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Student photographer faces misdemeanor charges after riot

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A photographer for a Pennsylvania State University newspaper has been charged with two misdemeanors while covering a riot, The Daily Collegian…

A photographer for a Pennsylvania State University newspaper has been charged with two misdemeanors while covering a riot, The Daily Collegian reported.

The riot in downtown State College began on Oct. 25 after a Penn State football victory, and quickly spawned destructive and illegal behavior, according to State College police. Michael Felletter, a student photographer for The Collegian, said he received a call from his editor-in-chief to cover the riot.

"While I was there, I did my best to record the ensuing riot with my camera," Felletter wrote in an e-mail.  "I never obstructed the police in any way, nor did I make any act to escalate the situation further."

According to the criminal complaint summarized in The Collegian, State College Police Officer Nick Argiro told Felletter to leave the area twice, after seeing him shooting photos of an arrest.   Twenty minutes later, when Argiro saw Felletter again, he took Felletter’s driver’s license.

Police told The Collegian that Felletter was "causing the crowd to become more exhuberant [sic], excited, and destructive."

"When I was told to leave the area, I did so," Felletter countered. "When I was told to hand over my I.D., I cooperated and handed the officer my license. I was there to do my job, nothing more."

State College Police Captain Dana Leonard said in an interview that he is not sure the district attorney is "completely aware" that one of the 14 people charged so far was working at the scene as a journalist. The district attorney’s office can drop the charges against Felletter – which include failure to disperse and disorderly conduct – but so far has not.

Terry Casey, editor-in-chief of The Collegian, also said in an interview that the newspaper will help Felletter however possible, since he was there doing the job that was asked of him.

"We stand behind our staff members," Casey said Friday.