NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · VIRGINIA · Newsgathering · July 25, 2006
Photographer arrested at police standoff
July 25, 2006 · A photographer for a Norfolk, Va., newspaper was arrested Thursday after she took pictures of a standoff between police and an armed suspect in a bank robbery in nearby Portsmouth, Va.
Police allege that Sonya Hebert, 29, of The Virginian-Pilot, did not listen to officers who asked her to move away from the scene.
“She had gone into a restricted area and was warned by our police several times to leave the area and when she did not she was taken into custody,” said Portsmouth police spokeswoman Ann Hope.
Hebert, who was charged with two misdemeanors — obstruction of justice and passing established police lines — is due in court on July 28.
Hebert declined comment and Pilot Editor Denis Finley did not return repeated phone calls. He told his paper: “I hope it was an unfortunate misunderstanding, because our people are professionals and the police are professionals.” He added that “sometimes, in the heat of moment, misunderstandings can happen.”
Obstruction of justice is a class one misdemeanor with a punishment of not more than 12 months in jail, a fine of no more than $2,500, or both. Crossing police lines is a class three misdemeanor with a fine of not more than $500.
The standoff, which lasted more than four hours, occurred after a bank robbery in a busy shopping center and ended with the suspect’s arrest, the paper reported.
(Editor’s note: Hebert will not be prosecuted at the request of the chief of police, the prosecutor handling the case told General District Judge Morton V. Whitlow on July 28, according to The Virginian-Pilot.)