NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · LOUISIANA · Newsgathering · Oct. 11, 2005
Officer assaults journalist at tail-end of New Orleans melee
Oct. 11, 2005 · A New Orleans police officer who shoved an Associated Press producer against a car hood while the journalist held his credentials to the officer’s face has been suspended without pay. The incident occurred late Saturday after an AP Television News cameraman videotaped New Orleans police beating and arresting a 64-year-old man.
Officer Stewart Smith had ordered AP producer Rich Matthews and his cameraman to stop recording the beating of Robert Davis, The Associated Press reported.
When Matthews held up his credentials and explained that he was a working journalist, the officer grabbed him, leaned him backward over a car, jabbed him in the stomach and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade, AP reported.
Both incidents involving Matthews and Davis were caught on camera by AP and brought suspension without pay against officers Smith, Lance Schilling and Robert Evangelist after high-ranking police officials watched footage of the attacks. The officers were arrested late Sunday and charged with battery on two civilians.
Smith, the officer who assaulted AP’s Matthews, pleaded not guilty to battery charges Monday at a New Orleans temporary court facility, The Times-Picayune reported.
A police news release, which concedes that “Matthews was grabbed and pushed against a parked car with several unprofessional remarks expressed by Smith,” said the all three officers had been placed on leave without pay for an unknown period of time.
Mike Silverman, AP’s managing editor, said AP has not yet decided whether to take any legal action against the New Orleans Police Department.
“At this point the police are investigating and that’s all that’s happened,” Silverman said.
The attack on Matthews came shortly after Schilling and Evangelist were attempting to arrest Robert Davis, 64, for public intoxication, simple battery and public intimidation on the corner of Bourbon and Conti streets.