NY STATE POLICE DETAIN SYRACUSE JOURNALIST

By: Joe Strupp

Photographer Ticketed At Scene Of Accident


New York State Police detained a photographer for the Syracuse
Herald-Journal and Post-Standard for nearly an hour
Friday morning, and ticketed him after he refused to turn over
film he had shot of a fatal police car chase along a federal
highway.

John Berry, 46, said he arrived at the scene on Interstate 81 in
Syracuse, N.Y., just after 9 a.m. following the police chase of a
stolen SUV that began some 20 miles south in Preble, N.Y., and
ended when the vehicle steered off the road, killing the driver.
Berry, a 21-year veteran of Syracuse Newspapers (an Advance
Publications company that owns both dailies) said he had just
started taking photos of the accident from a bridge when police
told him to stop.

“I had not gotten more than a couple of frames off when they
started yelling at me,” Berry told E&P. “I yelled to them
that I was a staff photographer and they told me to leave the
scene, which I started to do.”

Berry said police then stopped him, asked for identification, and
took his driver’s license. He said he was ordered to get into his
car, where he was detained for 50 minutes. Eventually, the
officers asked Berry to hand over his film, which he declined to
do after consulting with the newspaper’s attorney, S. Paul
Battaglia, by cell phone.

Berry was allowed to leave after nearly an hour, but received two
tickets; one for stopping on pavement, the other for failing to
comply with a police officer.

Lt. Jamie Mills, a state police spokeswoman, confirmed that the
confrontation occurred, but said she had few details. “It’s my
understanding that he was asked to leave the scene and he
returned,” she said. “But that is all we know.”

Stan Linhorst, the papers’ senior managing editor, said no legal
action had been taken against the police, but said the papers
were exploring all options. “We don’t want to let it rest,” he
added.



Joe Strupp (jstrupp@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor for E&P.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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