A San Francisco State University photojournalism student who witnessed a killing while taking pictures for his senior project is covered by the California shield law, a judge ruled Wednesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The student was working in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood April 17 when the subject of his photographs, Norris Bennett, was shot and killed. The student refused to give police an interview at the scene. The police then obtained a search warrant for DNA and his apartment, where they seized several items.
The student challenged the search warrant after it was executed on the grounds that he is protected by the state shield law. His attorneys argued that he was a freelancer actively trying to sell the project to The Wall Street Journal and the Bay Area News Group. The state argued that the student was not a journalist because he was not working for a news outlet and the photos were for a school project.
On Wednesday, the Chronicle said, Superior Court Judge Tomar Mason ordered police to return evidence seized from the student’s apartment because he is covered by the shield law.