Video has surfaced of a City News Service reporter’s arrest by Los Angeles police officers as he tried to leave the Occupy LA encampment the night it was cleared out by cops and it appears to contradict the authorities’ original version of events.
Los Angeles police moved in on the Occupy LA encampment on the lawn of City Hall shortly after midnight Nov. 30. In a video shot that night by Alex Mannone and posted to The Occupied Venice Journal, CNS reporter Calvin Milam can be seen on Spring Street facing west — away from the encampment — as he shows police officers his LAPD press credential. He then crosses the police line that ran up and down Spring Street between Temple and First. As he does so, he is brought to the ground by a number of officers in riot gear.
Milam’s arrest was first reported Dec. 1 by the LA Weekly. In that entry, he was described by a police officer as drunk and belligerent. LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman told the paper that Milam did not identify himself as a journalist and did not appear to be working. The post also referred to the unidentified CNS reporter as a woman.
Milam, who spent at least six hours in handcuffs following his arrest, tells The City Maven he was not drunk that night and hasn’t had a drink in more than 20 years. Additionally, copy from the wire service on the night of the arrest ran with Milam’s byline.
Milam is being represented by attorney Mark Geragos.
“I haven’t seen the police report yet but the video is completely at odds with the accounts I’ve been told orally (by the LAPD and City Attorney’s Office),” Geragos told The City Maven.
Milam posted a $5,000 bond and has an arraignment scheduled for Jan. 6, 2012. Once the police report is released in the case, Geragos said he will demand a retraction from the LA Weekly and may seek action against the police department for defaming Milam.
“We’re certainly not going to take this lying down,” Geragos said.
There was no immediate comment from the City Attorney’s Office or Los Angeles Police Department.
*Update: According to the City Attorney’s Office, the case was referred to the Alternative Prosecution Program last week to begin the intake process. The pre-filing diversion program requires participants to pay a fee and complete a curriculum based on the nature of the arrest.
**Update: LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith tells The City Maven the arrest will be reviewed by internal affairs. As to why the police department’s original account appears to differ from the video, Smith said there was a major miscommunication between the arresting officers and Media Relations.
Smith noted that even with a media credential, people cannot cross police lines. Folks who wanted to leave the City Hall lawn that night without being arrested could have exited out the north or south entrances, but not east or west.
Milam’s arrest can be seen at the 3:22 mark:
Full disclosure: I worked for City News Service from 2005 to 2009.