In 2011, a freelance cameraman working for a news outlet began filming an arrest in Long Island, enraging an officer at the scene. Suffolk County Police Sergeant Michael Milton ordered Stringer News Service’s Philip Datz to leave the area or “get locked up,” so the videographer moved about a block away to a location where other people had gathered to watch and resumed filming. Soon after, Milton rolled up in his patrol car and arrested Datz, seizing his video equipment and charging him with obstructing governmental administration.
Not surprisingly, the charges against Datz were quickly dropped and the Suffolk PD was ordered to undergo media training. However, Datz pressed on and filed a federal lawsuit, which he just settled for $200,000. According to the AP, he didn’t just negotiate a monetary resolution:
Datz said as important as the financial settlement is, he is proud the agreement requires the department to create a committee to address problems between the press and the police department.
Representatives for the county executive and police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“When police arrest journalists just for doing their job, it jeopardizes everyone’s ability to stay informed about important news in their community,” said Datz in a statement.
For good measure, below is video of the incident that Datz himself recorded that should also serve as a reminder to police of what NOT to do: