A radio reporter taken into custody while covering a demonstration the night two sheriff’s deputies were shot three years ago reached a $700,000 settlement on Tuesday with Los Angeles County.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the payout to Josie Huang, a journalist for NPR affiliate LAist.
“Journalists in Los Angeles County should be able to record police activity in public without fear of unlawful arrest,” Huang said in a statement after the supervisors’ vote. “My arrest was traumatic, but I hope that some good can still come of this experience.”
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Deputies slammed Huang to the ground Sept. 12, 2020, and accused her of interfering with the arrest of a protester outside a hospital where deputies were being treated for gunshot wounds. The demonstration occurred during a series of protests following the murder of George Floyd.
After she was released from jail, Huang tweeted she was “filming an arrest when suddenly deputies shout ‘back up.’ Within seconds, I was getting shoved around. There was nowhere to back up.”
In cellphone video, Huang could be heard shouting “I’m a reporter” as she tumbles to the pavement. She said she was wearing a press pass.
In agreeing to the deal, the county and sheriff’s department admitted no wrongdoing. The settlement includes a requirement that the department issue guidance to deputies on the laws and policies governing their interactions with members of the news media.
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“There was a thorough internal investigation into this incident and the appropriate administrative action was taken,” the department said in a statement. “We understand the role of the media during newsworthy events and make every effort to accommodate them with a designated press area and appropriate access.”
Alex Villanueva, who was sheriff at the time, said Huang was too close to the deputies during the man’s arrest. The district attorney’s office declined to file criminal charges, saying it did not appear that Huang was intentionally interfering and was only trying to record the scene.
A letter at the time from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press condemning the arrest and calling for the charges against Huang to be dropped was signed by 64 media organizations, including The Associated Press.
Huang said she planned to donate some of the money from the settlement to charity.