Student charged after taking traffic-stop photos
PHILADELPHIA | Philadelphia police violated a college student’s First Amendment rights by arresting him as he took photos of a traffic stop outside his house, a journalism advocacy group said Monday.
Temple University photojournalism student Ian Van Kuyk has been charged with obstruction, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in a case described as a “miscarriage of justice” by an attorney for the National Press Photographers Association.
“He was just taking pictures, as is his right, [as is] every citizen’s right,” attorney Mickey Osterreicher said Monday.
Police Lt. Raymond Evers said Mr. Van Kuyk and his girlfriend were arrested for other offenses, not for taking pictures.
“It’s very clear the officers were aware of their First Amendment rights to take photos,” Lt. Evers said, citing a police report. “Other things happened that caused them to be arrested.”
Lt. Evers said the department is investigating internally and that he could not release further details about the case, or the police report on the March 14 arrest.
Mr. Osterreicher laid out the student’s version of events in a written complaint to police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.
Mr. Van Kuyk was sitting on his front steps in the city’s Point Breeze section when police pulled over a vehicle. The student began taking pictures to fulfill a course assignment for shooting at night. He was not using a flash and obeyed one police command to move back, Mr. Osterreicher said.
But officers then asked Mr. Van Kuyk to stop taking photos. When the student asserted his right to use the camera on public street, one officer reportedly said: “Public domain, yeah we’ve heard that before.” Police allegedly pushed, shoved and threw Mr. Van Kuyk to the ground before handcuffing him.