Reporter sentenced over argument at emergency scene
CALIFORNIA–A freelance photojournalist in Redlands was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation for attempting to take pictures of an injured police officer and a crime scene.
Photographer Larry Erickson was arrested during the aftermath of a police foot pursuit of bank robbery suspects in Redlands, Calif.
The accounts offered by Erickson and the officers involved differ significantly. Erickson said that when he approached the crime scene, he was stopped by an officer who told him that he could not proceed any further. He then told the officer that he was a photographer and wanted to get pictures of the scene, he said, but the officer would not let him cross the street, saying he might interfere with the crime scene.
Erickson said he argued that since traffic was then flowing on the streets, there no longer was a crime scene. Another police officer approached and became upset as Erickson continued to try to get closer to the crime scene, according to the photographer. The second officer then placed Erickson under arrest while Erickson’s daughter was in their car watching. Erickson claims that allowing his daughter to watch him be arrested has caused her emotional trauma.
In their written report on the incident, the police officers countered that Erickson was uncooperative. The first officer reported that as Erickson approached the crime scene, the officer told Erickson that he could not enter the area, at which point Erickson said the officer could not stop him and then walked past the officer. After a similar encounter with a second officer, the second officer put up his hand to stop Erickson, according to the report. Erickson pushed past him, saying, according to the officer, “You can’t stop me, this is open to the public.” The officer reported that he then arrested Erickson to preserve evidence at the crime scene, including footprints on the median Erickson was moving toward.
Erickson was released 20 minutes later after agreeing to appear in court, according to the report. As he walked away, the officer said, Erickson continued to be belligerent, directing profanities at a police corporal.
Erickson’s attorneys plan to appeal the decision. (California v. Erickson; Media Counsel: Dennis Wilkins)