Napa County Sheriff’s Deputies detained ABC7 reporter Wayne Freedman (background) and photographer Craig Southern, seized their camera and intentionally broke their cell phone while the pair were attempting to cover a grass fire on Wednesday, the station reports.
News Director Kevin Keeshan said he will press criminal charges and file a civil lawsuit against the deputies.
“I’ve been a journalist for 30 years in California and never in my 30 years have we ever had a reporter or photographer arrested or detained for doing their job,” Keeshan told the Napa Valley Register. At left, a handcuffed Friedman is placed in a squad car.
Keeshan said Friedman and Southern were detained by deputies over an argument about whether the journalists were too close to the fire. Keeshan said deputies broke one of the men’s cell phones in half after he used it to film the other man being detained. Keeshan also said deputies confiscated their camera.
Both Freedman and Southern were handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car for 15 minutes, ABC7 said. A sheriff’s department captain later apologized and both were released without being charged. (Photo credit: Kim Komenich, Chronicle. Click here to see additional photos.)