A former news cameraman for the Bay Area’s KGO-TV (the ABC affiliate) is suing the Oakland Police Department after several officers assaulted him in 2009. Douglas Laughlin was outside Highland Hospital trying to film an ambulance carrying a wounded officer when several officers attacked him and broke his camera. (See the video for the angry mob of officers shoving Laughlin, threatening him with arrest for “interfering with a crime scene,” and trying to tear his battery pack, among other things.)
Police officials say emotions were running high and that explains their behavior; it was the deadliest day in Oakland PD history with four officers killed on the job. But Laughlin was on a public sidewalk covering a big news story, and trying to block and/or physically impair the media does nothing productive. In fact, the only thing they achieved was a big, fat lawsuit and years of headaches.
I get police have a difficult job, and that was a tragic day for their department. What I don’t get is the uncontrolled rage and flagrant disregard for the law that officers like this display. It gives all police officers a bad name.
Article from San Francisco Chronicle