OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Police confiscated video footage Friday from an Oakland Tribune photographer who was filming students protesting federal immigration policy.
Tribune employee Jane Tyska was outside the Fruitvale BART station when she was detained and her tape taken away by an Oakland
Unified School District police officer, according to the newspaper.
Oakland schools spokesman Troy Flint said officer Art Michel was escorting the protesters, and that the officer took the footage as evidence that Tyska was interfering with his ability to perform his duties.
He said the incident began when Tyska ran into Michel's patrol car, scratching the vehicle and bending a side mirror.
But Tyska told The Oakland Tribune that Michel's car grazed her as she was walking backward.
She said the officer yelled profanities at her and threatened to arrest her.
"I immediately identified myself as a photographer for The Oakland Tribune, showed him my press pass and said I was just doing my job," she told the paper.
Tyska was eventually released without being cited, according to the newspaper.
Flint said authorities could still file charges against Tyska.
"(Michel) took the tape away not out of spite, but as evidence to document the crime which occured," Flint said. "His feeling was he was cutting her a break by not arresting her."
Police are generally not allowed to seize what they think could be evidence in a future case without a warrant or subpoena, said Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition.
"That just gives police huge powers that they don't have," he said, calling the incident "very unusual."
The Tribune is trying to get the tape back, said Pete Wevurski, managing editor of the Bay Area News Group-East Bay, part of the
Tribune's parent company.
"We think the confiscation of news gathering material by police was wrong," he said.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)