Nov. 1, 2007 · Miami-Dade Schools Police Officers arrested a local TV reporter Oct. 23 for trespassing on school property while carrying a loaded handgun.
WPLG-TV reporter Jeff Weinsier, at Miami Central Senior High School working on a story about school violence, was charged with resisting arrest, unlawful entry onto school grounds and being in possession of a firearm on school property after officers said he was asked numerous times to cross the street.
A videotape of altercation shows Weinsier attempting to convince officers that he had the right to be on the sidewalk before he was handcuffed. When police searched him, they discovered the loaded .38 revolver.
“I was never trying to get onto school property, I just wanted to interview people outside of the school, like parents picking their kids up,” Weinsier said.
Weinsier said he was carrying a gun because of death threats he had received while covering other stories for the station.
WPLG Vice President Dave Boylan said the station stands behind Weinsier’s actions although he was suspended for two weeks for violating a company policy by carrying a gun without permission.
Media attorney Charles Tobin of the Washington, D.C.-based Holland & Knight LLP said the case was troubling.
“I think all too often, law enforcement is too quick to turn what should be a cooperative news gathering situation into a short confrontation,” Tobin said. Weinsier “was adjacent to school property; he was trying to get a story though a legitimate means and the authorities were not giving any cooperation at all and then the situation escalated. This seems to happen time and time again with government officials and it’s troublesome.”
Weinsier, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 13.