A former National Press Photographers Association president was arrested Friday as he was photographing a house fire in Washington.
Tony Overman, a veteran photographer for The Olympian, was charged with “simple assault” on a police officer, according to the newspaper.
However, the Olympian says it was the officer who assaulted Overman.
And judging from the incidents I’ve covered on this blog, including my own incident in which an officer bashed my head into the ground, I am siding with the Olympian on this one.
Olympian Publisher John Winn Miller promised that the newspaper will fight the charges.
“This is a very disturbing incident where a very experienced photographer who knows his limits was apparently accosted by an overly aggressive officer,” he said.
“It was an uncalled-for reaction and interferes with our ability to cover the news in a lawful fashion, and we intend to fight it in court.”
Overman, whose right arm and hand were injured during the arrest, has filed a complaint against the Lacey Police Department.
The Olympian said the arrest unraveled in the following manner:
Overman said that while he was taking photos, an officer put up a police-tape boundary behind him. Overman said that when Lacey detective David Miller told him to move outside the boundary, he complied.
He said that as he walked away, he overheard the detective tell another officer that Overman should be arrested immediately if he crossed the police line.
Overman said he turned around and approached the detective.
“I just wanted to understand why he was singling me out when I had complied with everything he asked me to do,” Overman said Saturday.
“I wasn’t angry,” he added. “I just don’t like seeing the media singled out and picked on.”
Overman said that the two walked toward each other and that the detective screamed at him.
They got so close that their noses briefly touched, Overman said; he says he was shoved backward and arrested.
Detective David Miller has worked for the Lacey Police Department for 14 years. Overman has worked at the Olympian for 11 years. He is a two-time regional photographer of the year and the immediate past president of the National Press Photographers Association.