LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office is not filing charges against KPCC reporter Josie Huang who was pinned to the ground and arrested while covering demonstrations following the shooting of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in Compton.
Huang was cited under California Penal Code Section 148 for obstructing a law enforcement officer from performing his or her lawful duties. However, prosecutors cited insufficient evidence as the reason for not pursuing charges.
“Ms. Huang was in a public area filming a protest,” they wrote. “When asked to back up, she is almost immediately grabbed by deputies and taken to the ground, giving her little, if any, time to comply. It does not appear she was intentionally attempting to interfere with the deputies, but merely trying to record the occurrence.
“While she was in close proximity to deputies making an arrest, and while deputies had reason to ask her to back up, Ms. Huang was not given the opportunity to comply with their demand.”
Huang, a radio reporter for KPCC, was at the hospital following the aftermath of the shooting when a handful of anti-police protesters converged outside of St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, Calif.
According to the sheriff’s department, the protesters were blocking the entrance and exits of the emergency room, spurring the department to issue a dispersal order.
As deputies issued the dispersal order, one of the male protesters refused to comply and cooperate, according to deputies.
“During his arrest, a struggle ensued at which time a female adult ran towards the deputies, ignored repeated commands to stay back as they struggled with the male and interfered with the arrest,” the sheriff’s department tweeted.
The sheriff’s department claimed she didn’t have proper media credentials, failed to properly identify herself as a reporter and was “interfering with a lawful arrest” of a protester — claims Villanueva later repeated stating that her actions were more “activism” than journalism.
But video from Huang’s cell phone showed her repeatedly identifying herself as a reporter, shouting “KPCC,” and saying, “You’re hurting me,” while crying out in apparent pain.
The D.A.’s office said in its report that the videos it reviewed show “she is quickly taken to the ground and can be heard screaming that she is a reporter and screams the call letters KPCC. She also has a lanyard around her neck…at a press conference the sheriff’s department announced it was her KPCC work identity card.”
According to the report, video evidence also shows that one deputy can be heard acknowledging her stating that she is a reporter.
“He can be heard to say, ‘Do what you’re told if you’re a reporter,'” the report says.
Huang’s arrest, as well as several other incidents in the past few weeks, has prompted some local officials to express concern over Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s version of events leading to the arrest. Some members of the civilian commission that oversees the agency have called on the sheriff to resign.