NYPD officer faces up to 7-year sentence for fabricating charges against photojournalist
posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 1:47 PM EDT
Last year, New York Times freelance photographer Robert Stolarik was arrested while photographing a brewing street fight. Police officer Michael Ackermann claimed that Stolarik had disobeyed "numerous lawful orders," fired a strobe repeatedly in the officer's face and "violently resisted being handcuffed." Now those claims have been disproven, and the officer faces three felony counts and five misdemeanors for fabricating the reasons for the arrest, and could face up to seven years in prison.
Ackermann had claimed that Stolarik interfered with the arrest of a teenage girl by firing his flash in Ackermann's face. However, this claim fell apart when evidence showed that Stolarik did not use his flash, and didn't even have one on his camera at the time. Not only that, but no witnesses -- police or otherwise -- reported seeing the flash.
According to the New York Times, Ackermann has been charged with "several counts related to filing false records and official misconduct," and not only could serve time in prison, but also could lose his job if convicted.
Stolarik was photographing the beginnings of a street fight, when he was ordered by New York City police officers to not take photos of an arrest. He identified himself as a journalist with the New York Times, and kept snapping shots. He claims that an officer then slammed the camera into his face, took his camera from him, and then forced him to the ground. Stolarik had previously clashed with police during the Occupy Wall Street movement. A video of that incident went viral, which is where the image above comes from.
All charges against the photographer have been dropped.