Back in August of last year, New York Times photographer Robert Stolarik was taking photographs of a street fight when he was arrested.
According to Stolarik, his arrest was brutal. While he was photographing the street fight, he suddenly found himself on the ground under six officers. He had to spend the night in the hospital afterwards. “They said I have no broken bones or internal injuries,” he told New York Magazine at the time. “That’s a relief, because it feels like I have broken bones and internal injuries.” More important, he still doesn’t have his cameras.
Michael Ackermann, the officer who arrested Stolarik, wrote in his arrest report that the photographer had discharged his flash in his face as he was trying to arrest a teenage girl. However, prosecutors now believe that account to be bogus, The New York Times has reported. Stolarik’s camera was later found to not have had a flash on it at the time of the arrest.
On Monday the Bronx District Attorney announced that Ackermann had been indicted for allegedly filing false records and official misconduct. The New York Times reports that if he is found guilty, he will lose his job and face seven years in prison. Reuters says he has been suspended without pay.
Ackermann pleaded not guilty, according to the Associated Press.
Here’s how the Times described the arrest at the time:
Mr. Stolarik was taking photographs of the arrest of a teenage girl about 10:30 p.m., when a police officer instructed him to stop doing so. Mr. Stolarik said he identified himself as a journalist for The Times and continued taking pictures. A second officer appeared, grabbed his camera and “slammed” it into his face, he said.
Mr. Stolarik said he asked for the officers’ badge numbers, and the officers then took his cameras and dragged him to the ground; he said that he was kicked in the back and that he received scrapes and bruises to his arms, legs and face.
The Times also notes that police said Stolarik had “inadvertently” hit an officer with his camera and had “violently” resisted arrest.
Stolarik, who has been a photographer for more than 10 years, doesn’t appear to be commenting on the news. However, Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, spoke to Gothamist:
“As we’ve seen so many times in this narrative, very often the officer’s version is a work of fiction […] I think the officer in this case decided to get a little too creative with the flash business … Robert doesn’t even own a flash.”
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