“I don’t care about no damn lawsuit” officer yells at media
March 19, 2012
Two NBC journalists were handcuffed and threatened by Chicago police after attempting to report on the murder of a 6-year-old girl yesterday, NBC Chicago reports.
Another NBC journalist was also detained by police outside Mt. Sinai Hospital, where the girl had been taken following a fatal shooting during city wide violence over the weekend.
Police were called to the hospital shortly after reporters arrived on the scene. The journalists said they has already moved away from a public sidewalk and across the street at the request of the police.
One police officer was then caught on camera telling other members of the media “Your First Amendment right can be terminated if you’re creating a scene or whatever. Your First Amendment right has got limitations.”
When the reporters asked for clarification on how they were creating a scene, the officer replied, “Your presence is creating a scene.”
“This is what we do for a living!” one reporter replied, before another added“You’ve got a lawsuit coming.”
“I don’t care about no damn lawsuit!” the officer fired back. “F*ck a lawsuit. Just ’cause you sue doesn’t mean you’re going to win.”
Photographer Donte Williams and WGN Reporter Dan Ponce were then handcuffed and briefly detained by the officer, who threatened them with trespassing charges.
Watch the video:]
The police say they acted following claims that the reporters had attempted to enter a secure area of the hospital.
The two reporters, along with NBC Chicago Reporter Christian Farr deny that they attempted to go inside the hospital. The two were released without charge.
Later appearing on WLS Radio, Dan Ponce said “This is in front of a hospital. The reporters and photographers were standing on the median sidewalk when the officer started yelling at us, telling us to get further away. We decided to take a stand.”
The Chicago Police Department released the following statement on the incident:
The Chicago Police Department did not charge anyone with criminal trespass in connection with yesterday’s incident, which involved the unfortunate and senseless loss of a young child. We removed two individuals from the hospital at the request of hospital security guards, who asserted that the individuals had tried to go past them into secure and private areas of the hospital. The security guards declined to press charges and the individuals were released.
Our members were attempting to protect and respect both the grieving family members of the child, and the memory of the child herself during a very stressful time for all parties involved.
As always, we will carefully review the allegations in the event further action is warranted.