Prosecutors Says Sheriff Mishandled Arrest Of Reporter, Declines To File Charges

Written by on September 25, 2020

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva got a public slap down from the district attorney yesterday.

The D-A’s office criticized the sheriff for arresting a reporter … and said the evidence shows no charges are warranted.

The sheriff had personally campaigned for criminal charges to be filed against a reporter from KPCC radio  … who was tackled and arrested by deputies while taking video of the arrest of an anarchist outside a hospital southeast of L A.

The reporter … Josie Huang … was arrested for supposedly with interfering with police officers.

The Sheriff himself pronounced support for the take down.

He told said Huang failed to identify herself as a reporter … important because reporters are protected under state law even in closed areas.

That arrest did not occur in a closed area.

Huang’s phone kept recording while she was in handcuffs … recording her continually announcing she was a reporter … as deputies stomped on the recording device and tried to kick the evidence away.

Although Villanueva also claims his deputies did not know Huang was a reporters …  one deputy can be heard on the tape … commanding Huang to “do what you’re told … if you’re a reporter.”

The Los Angeles County District attorney’s office issued this comment.

“Ms. Huang was in a public area filming a protest.

“When asked to back up, she is almost immediately grabbed by deputies and taken to the ground, giving her little if any time to comply.

“It does not appear that she was intentionally attempting to interfere with the deputies, but merely trying to record the occurrence.”

And the D-A’s office specifically mentioned that the law that specifies what constitutes interfering with police … specifically allows people to record police actions.

It says that people cannot possibly be interfering … if their only act is to record police action.

The sheriff has publicly proclaimed that KPCC ’s reporter had “crossed the line from journalism to activism” and defended his deputies’ actions.

It should be noted that the attack on the reporter came a week after a different public radio station …. KCRW … reported that sheriff’s deputies had illegally attended a raucous party at a Hollywood bar … against COVID regulations.

Villanueva … in his subsequent statements …. also confused the two public radio stations.

The Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating itself.

And the outside county Inspector General … Max Huntsman … is attempting to investigate as well … although the sheriff is resisting that.

As for the KPCC reporter … Huang is seeking to have the arrest wiped form her criminal record.

And she says she is “grateful for the 1st Amendment, which entitles all Americans — not just journalists — to the rights of free speech and assembly.”

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