(AP) Prosecutors dropped charges Monday against a reporter accused of failing to notify the fire department while reporting on a diesel spill at his newspaper’s building.
Deseret News reporter Jerry Spangler had been charged with a misdemeanor violation of the state’s unauthorized-discharges law.
“The prosecution made the right decision,” Spangler said outside the courtroom. “This is a victory for the First Amendment.”
City Prosecutor Simarjit Gill was in court Monday and not immediately available for comment.
Spangler wrote a story critical of his newspaper and its building managers after diesel fumes circulated through the nine-story tower’s ventilation system. The Jan. 3 spill was caused by a supplier who mistakenly pumped 400 gallons of diesel fuel into a tank that already was full.
Spangler interviewed a state environmental quality official, who told Spangler someone should report the spill to the fire department. The official did not report the spill.
Spangler told The Associated Press that he left a message for the fire department’s spokesman, but that the call was not returned.
“We are happy that the charges were dropped and Jerry won’t be prosecuted for doing his job as a news reporter,” said Jeff Hunt, attorney for the Deseret News.