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New York Times complains NYPD assaulted a photographer

By Josh Halliday, The Guardian
Monday, August 6, 2012 16:15 EDT
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NYPD Officers. Image via Agence-France-Presse
 
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The New York Times has complained to the city’s police department after one of its photographers said he was assaulted by officers who arrested him on Saturday.

Robert Stolarik, a freelance photographer, claimed a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer “slammed” his camera into his face before he was dragged to the ground, kicked and arrested.

Stolarik was on assignment with two other reporters in the Bronx when he was stopped by police on Saturday evening.

Police ordered Stolarik to stop taking pictures of a teenage girl being arrested. When he refused, an officer reputedly grabbed Stolarik’s camera and dragged him to the ground.

Stolarik claimed he was then kicked in the back and received scrapes and bruises on his face, legs and arms as a result of the arrest. He was charged with obstructing government administration and of resisting arrest.

The New York Times reported that a video of the arrest taken by another journalist showed Stolarik face down on the pavement beneath a huddle of about six police officers.

A spokeswoman for the New York Times told MediaGuardian: “In our view, Robert Stolarik, a freelance photographer working on behalf of The New York Times, was doing nothing more than his job when he was roughed up and arrested.

“This action is not in keeping with the agreement we have had with the NYPD and we plan to notify them of our distress about this today.”

The NYPD said that Stolarik “violently resisted being handcuffed” and that an officer was cut on the hand during the arrest.

The police claimed that Stolarik “inadvertently” struck an officer in the face with his camera when he refused to leave the scene and stop taking photographs. A spokesman for the NYPD said the force had no further comment to make on Monday.

It is the third time since December the paper has written to the force about its treatment of Stolarik, who covered the Occupy Wall Street protests for the New York Times.

George Freeman, a lawyer for the New York Times, added: “This is an incident where it seemed the photographer was doing his job taking photographs, and the police overeacted and attempted to intimidate him and block him, leading to his arrest.”

Stolarik is scheduled to appear in court in November.

Police obstructed Stolarik from taking pictures of an arrest at an Occupy Wall Street rally in December 2011, and again in January.

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