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Photographer arrested, equipment seized at accident scene

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Photographer arrested, equipment seized at accident scene

  • A St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer’s arrest came after police claimed he interfered with emergency workers.

Jan. 5, 2005 — Police in a St. Louis suburb arrested Gabriel B. Tait, a photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch , Saturday while he was shooting photos of an accident scene. Berkeley, Mo., police say Tait was in the way of paramedics and other emergency workers.

The arrest occurred when Tait was photographing an overturned vehicle on the side of Interstate 70. Tait told his paper that an officer told him to stop taking pictures and leave. The officer then grabbed his camera, pushed him against a vehicle, and handcuffed and arrested him.

Police took his camera and towed his car, and Tait was jailed for four hours before being released on a $500 bond.

Berkeley Capt. Frank McCall told the Post-Dispatch that Tait refused to move when emergency workers arrived.

“The intent was to try to clear that area so our fire department personnel would have room to work,” McCall said.

He also told the paper that police “have no problem with any news agency that wants to take pictures because that’s their job. But we do ask that they show the common respect to know that you can’t be right up one the scene.”

As of Wednesday, Tait had not yet been charged, but McCall told the paper that police will seek a municipal misdemeanor charge.

Tait’s equipment was returned on Monday.

Arnie Robbins, managing editor of the Post-Dispatch said Wednesday that the paper fully backs Tait.

“After reviewing the situation, it is clear that our photographer did not interfere with emergency workers in any way whatsoever,” Robbins said in a statement. “As a newspaper we have a responsibility and a right to cover matters in the public interest. Gabe Tait was simply doing his job at a safe and respectful distance from the accident. The actions of the Berkeley police constitute a totally unjustified interference in the right of the news media to do their job.”


© 2005 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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