A Los Angeles Times photographer was editing and sending photos from his parked car Wednesday when he was confronted by Simi Valley officers who ordered him out of his car, then threw him down on the ground and handcuffed him.
All because the 65-year-old photojournalist questioned their motives.
Ricardo DeAratanha had been parked less than a mile from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Ventura County where he had photographed a public viewing for the recently deceased Nancy Reagan.
A neighbor became alarmed when seeing his car because it was partially covered by a tarp and he was inside bent over with a cover over his head.
DeAratanha was using the tarp and the cloth to block out the light as he transmitted photos to his editors.
But the Simi Valley police officers who arrived did not buy that explanation, even after he showed them his Los Angeles Times press pass as well as media credentials from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
The cops wanted more.
DeAratanha, who is Brazilian, then suggested they were harassing him because he was not Caucasian.
Angry that they had just been accused of racial profiling, the cops ordered him out of his car and threw him down to the ground before cuffing him, telling him they were only trying to keep terrorists from interrupting Nancy Reagan’s viewing.
“This is not something we want to happen,” (Simi Valley) Deputy Chief David Livingstone said. “Had he cooperated, we would have had a different outcome.”
An attorney for the photographer, Mark Werksman, disputed the police account.
He said DeAratanha provided “multiple unassailable press credentials,” including identification cards issued by The Times and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The officers “kept asking him for more ID,” Werksman said. “Then they ordered him out of the car when they weren’t satisfied with his answer.”
At some point, Werksman said, the photographer suggested the officers were harassing him because of his ethnicity. DeAratanha is “Brazilian … of tan complexion,” he said.
“They resented that he would question their motives,” Werksman said. “They swarmed him and threw him to the ground and cuffed him.”
DeAratanha, who was worked for the L.A. Times since 1989, was transported to the hospital with a sprained ankle. He was charged with resisting and obstructing.
CORRECTION: We initially reported the arresting agency was the Los Angeles Police Department, but that was a mistake on our part. The arresting agency was the Simi Valley Police Department.