Napa County Sheriff’s deputies detained Multi-Emmy award-winning ABC 7 reporter Wayne Freedman and his photographer Craig Southern while covering a grass fire.
When the crew questioned officer’s orders to stop taking pictures of the fire from a checkpoint, deputies confiscated their camera. News director Kevin Keeshan said deputies broke one of the men’s cell phones in half after one used it to film the other being detained. Wayne and Southern were then handcuffed. A San Francisco Chronicle photographer shot the incident. KGO captured some of the scuffle prior to the confiscation of the equipment.
A sheriff’s department captain later apologized. Both were released without being charged.
California state law allows the media to report and take pictures from within police lines and entitles the media to proceed through fire & police lines at their own risk in absence of a crime scene.
ABC7 station management says it plans to file a complaint against the two deputies and to pursue all legal options.