Officers cite cameraman for interfering at gas leak scene
CALIFORNIA–A freelance camera operator was cited for not following the direction of a firefighter in early November at the scene of a gas main break along a freeway in Lake Forest.
Glenn Zachman, who for ten years has produced video footage of news events that have been purchased by local television stations, said that he was cited for disobeying the lawful order of a firefighter.
Zachman said that in early November, he went to the scene of a gas main break along Interstate 5 in Orange County. He said that when he arrived, a public information officer told him that the homes and apartments in the area had been evacuated.
When he went nearer to the gas main, Zachman said, a firefighter told him to move. When he refused to move, an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy cited him for disobeying the order.
Lt. Ron Wilkerson, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, said that Zachman was not allowed to drive into the emergency scene in a particular location. Wilkerson said that when Zachman was told he could cover the scene from a different location, the cameraman became argumentative. Wilkerson added that if Zachman went into the scene the way he wanted to go, he would have been in the way of the fire department, which was still working at the scene.
Zachman contends that he would not have been in the way of the fire department. “I know these guys are trying to save lives,” the freelancer said, “but I’m just trying to do my job.”
Zachman said he told the firefighter that California law does not allow him to remove journalists from emergency scenes. The law allows police to close areas to protect public health and safety, but states that police are not to prevent journalists from entering areas closed to the public.
Zachman said he is scheduled to be arraigned on December 29. (State v. Zachman)