NYPD Officer Faces Up To 7 Years in Jail for Lying About Photographer’s Arrest


One year ago, in August of 2012, New York Times photographer Robert Stolarik was arrested for allegedly using his camera flash to interfere with police during an arrest. However, after taking a look at the evidence, it’s the police officer who is in hot water and may face up to 7 years in prison after being indicted on three felony counts and five misdemeanors.

According to The New York Times, the altercation took place on August 4th of last year, when Stolarik began taking pictures of a street fight at McClellan Street and Sheridan Avenue in the Bronx. When police officer Michael Ackermann asked him to stop, Stolarik quickly informed him that he was a New York Times journalist and continued photographing the proceedings.

This is where the stories given by Stolarik and Ackermann begin to diverge. Stolarik claims that one officer slammed the camera into his face, and then pulled him to the ground when he asked for badge numbers. The official statement given by the officers, however, told a different story.

The officers claimed that Stolarik pushed forward and accidentally struck a police officer with his camera after being given “numerous lawful orders” to step back. They also said he “violently resisted” being taken into custody, injuring another officer in the process. Ackermann’s statement in particular also claimed that Stolarik continuously discharged a flash in his face in order to interfere with the arrest.

Here’s a video showing another confrontation between Stolarik and the NYPD that happened while he was covering occupy protests in 2011:

Officer Ackermann’s story came apart when district attorney Robert T. Johnson examined the evidence and found that Stolarik did not use a flash. In fact, he didn’t even have one on his camera at the time. Additionally, no other officers or civilians reported seeing a flash going off.

Charges against Stolarik have been dismissed. Officer Ackermann, on the other hand, faces several counts related to filing false records and official misconduct, which could mean losing his job and up to 7 years in jail.

Speaking to her own newspaper, Times spokeswoman Abbe Serphos said the newspaper is “pleased that officials in the Bronx took a serious look at this case and brought an indictment after finding police misconduct,” but that they are still “troubled that the arrest of the photographer, Robert Stolarik, was made in the first place.”

(via The New York Times)

  • mlieberman85

    Sounds like someone’s getting 2 weeks paid suspension.

  • Fuzztographer

    IAB … should be DPV: Department of Paid Vacations.

  • agour

    Good! The police shouldn’t act like they are above the law

  • Matt Collins

    don’t drop that soap officer!

  • Rabi Abonour

    Yeah… The indictment’s a nice symbol, but does anyone actually believe this officer is going to prison?

  • Ryanwiz

    No on-board flash?

  • gantonr

    his camera don`t have bulit-in flash )))

  • superduckz

    Law enforcement and judges love to “make examples” of poor schleps who get too much unexpected attention. I think this would be a great opportunity for some of that the other way.

  • John Sluder

    Amen!!! The cop should be made an example.

  • sean lancaster

    My Canon 6D does not have a built in flash either. Neither does my NEX 5N.

  • lololalallll

    It’s only going to get worse.

  • gharadmin

    He’s shooting with a Nikon D3s and a 24-70 2.8. Big boy cameras don’t have pop-up flashes.

  • Steve Grob

    Big boys don’t need overpriced cameras. ;)

  • ProtoWhalePig

    “When police officer Michael Ackermann asked him to stop, Stolarik quickly informed him that he was a New York Times journalist and continued photographing the proceedings”.

    Why did officer Ackerman ask him to stop in the first place? The photog had every right to be doing what he was doing.

  • Rob S

    Exactly. And the rights of journalists are not better than the rights of the rest of us. Bottom line, the police officer was wrong and then he made it more wrong. He betrayed the public trust. Doom on him.

  • Ken Elliott

    I’m glad to see the NYPD followed the evidence and let the photographer go. I’m glad they say they’ll investigate the officer. But what would have happened if the photographer picked up a D700 (built-in flash)?

    This guy is very lucky. Very.

  • Keiran Blackwell

    Or 5D Mk1,2, 3. Or 1D or probably any of the high end Nikon, Olympus or Sony cameras.

  • jlo1965

    Yeah , not going to do anytime. NYPD is so corrupt !

  • jkantor267

    If you don’t hold police officers accountable, then all you have is a gang of thugs in uniform.

  • RE Casper


  • D

    Unfortunately they effectively are. The inmates, as they say, run the asylum.

  • zaakir


  • Steve Grob

    Point being is the price of your camera doesn’t make a “big boy” or otherwise. You can’t buy your way into good photography.

  • dov

    Which is relevant to the story at hand

  • ElaineJHanson

    If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative. Just move towards a new spam-free work to earn USD’s -+- Bay35.cℴm

  • Genkakuzai

    To be fair, Nikons D600/D700/D800 are as bit a professional camera as the 6D will ever be, the two latter by a good margin (AF, build quality and by actually being labeled professional cameras).

  • Keiran Blackwell

    Oh absolutely, they’re fantastic cameras. But the premise implied by Ryanwiz appears to be that a camera without built in flash is inferior, or in the very least worth questioning on the matter.

    It may also be the case that I’m reading too much into his questions in which case I apologize for inferring too much. I just wanted to understand the reason for the question.

  • Genkakuzai

    Oh certainly. Concur completely!

  • Seth

    After this police officer is reinstated, someone should check regularly to see when he’s scheduled to testify in court; the defense attorney can then ask him how often he lies in official documents or on the stand, and use this case to impeach anything he says.

    After he blows a few cases the DA will force the PD to stop letting him do anything.

  • Brad Maestas

    Finally! Most of my interactions usually consist of me teaching the police the photo laws. It has gotten better but crap like this still happens. Know your rights and stick up for them!

  • David Worthington

    the EXIF data would tell you if the flash was used, as long as he had all the files in sequence one could prove the flash did not go off. All journalism PROs even freelancers are required to keep accurate EXIF records.