A veteran news videographer is accused of striking an officer in the back with a tripod, then pushing him in the chest with his hand, because the officer ordered him to leave a “restricted area” inside Miami City Hall last week.
Tony Jerez, a longtime helicopter photographer for CBS4, ended up getting manhandled by ten police officers.
He is now facing a felony count of battery of a law enforcement officer.
The restricted area? Apparently nothing more than a hallway outside the council chambers.
And that is a sad indicator that perhaps they are not going to back up their own employee in this questionable incident.
According to Elfrink’s account of the incident:
I was sitting just a few feet away when the fight broke out, and — unless something happened that I didn’t see, and that didn’t make it into the police report — a felony charge seems completely insane in this case.
Here’s what I saw: A little before noon last Thursday, commissioners had just voted against a measure to change civil service rules when chairman Marc Sarnoff stopped midsentence and turned to his right, toward a passageway that leads from the audience chamber to the dais.
The area is screened from view by a wall, but loud voices could be heard. A split second later, a cameraman in a red t-shirt tumbled to the ground with a police officer on top of him. The officer dragged him through an open door behind the dais, and someone yelled, “Police! Police!”
Within 10 seconds, every other cop in the room — probably around ten in all — swarmed and blocked off the doorway. Sarnoff called a five minute break, and that was that. In other words: a minor scuffle, followed by a total police lock-down.
“I’ve been working in city hall for over 20 years and the sergeant can’t order me around,” Jerez allegedly told the officers.
It’s a shame that an uncensored account of the incident could probably be obtained from the video he was shooting, but that would first take CBS4 to acknowledge the incident even occurred.