Ferguson Cop Pulls Gun On Photographer Who Was Asking Directions to the Media Area

By now we all know that the stories of media/police confrontation from Ferguson, MO have two sides. On the one hand, seemingly unnecessary arrests of major photojournalists had even the President of the United States condemning that officers’ actions. On the other, a photojournalist on the ground explained why he was embarrassed by the way the media is acting in the area.

And yet, it’s hard to imagine there being a good reason why, on a relatively peaceful protest day, a police officer answered a journalist’s seemingly innocent question by pulling and pointing a gun at him.

According to the NPPA — whose general counsel, Mickey H. Osterreicher, has filed a formal letter of complaint and request for an investigation with all three police departments who have officers deployed in the area — photojournalist Raffe Lazarian simply asked the police officer, “which way do I need to go in order to get to the media area?”

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What happen next is perhaps best described by Osterreicher himself:

In contravention of all known and accepted firearms policies, the officer drew his weapon and pointed it at Mr. Lazarian in a threatening manner and then used it to gesture in the direction he wanted him to go.

“Pointing a lethal weapon at someone without provocation goes far beyond creating a chilling effect on First Amendment rights,” continued Osterreicher. “It is unfortunate that some officers do not understand or respect the Constitution which they swore to uphold.”

This comes days after a viral video showed a St. Ann Police Department officer pointing a semi-automatic assault rifle at a peaceful protester and threatening to kill him. That officer was suspended from duty indefinitely as of yesterday. It’s safe to say Osterreicher and the NPPA would like to see the same thing happen in this case.

NPPA’s Lawyer Requests Investigation Into Ferguson Police Gun-Pointing Incident [NPPA]

  • Zos Xavius

    It’s time to put all these pigs out of jobs and into jail where they belong and tear down the blue wall. Americans shouldn’t be taking this lying down. Give citizen’s review boards actual power and a lot of things would change. The police work for us. We pay their salary. It’s time to show them who is their boss.

  • OtterMatt

    While the response may have been unwarranted, that’s a hell of an assumption to draw from one twitter post and a single sentence description. Given how unstable the situation up there has been recently, this officer could very easily have been threatened just moments prior to this random gentleman walking up to him.
    And I wouldn’t tell any officers you meet in person that “you pay their salary”. Not only is that a gross oversimplification (you pay taxes to a city for the RIGHT to live there and vote for local offices, not to determine city legal policy however you personally see fit), it’s demeaning and condescending. Of course, you don’t strike me as much of a “logical” type, so I’m assuming this will all basically go in one metaphorical ear and out the other.

  • TheLocNar

    Yeah. Tear gassing reporters, people in their own yards, and telling a camera man you’ll f’n shoot them for exercising their Constitutional rights is being respectful.

    As has been said already, if these officers of the law are acting like this when they know the world is watching them, just how do they act when the cameras are gone?

  • Stan B.

    You’re absolutely right, Ottermatt! If someone threatens me- I have every right in the world to take it out on you!

  • OtterMatt

    Hey, I’m just saying. In a situation as tense and polarized as this one, the first casualty is always understanding. Things don’t go up from there, and wildly slinging around accusations and such don’t help things either. I’m not defending his actions, God knows I was taught from day 1 with a weapon that it only gets aimed at something you intend to destroy or kill, but do you really think that throwing around epithets like “pigs” is building trust or destroying it? That street runs two ways.

  • Stan B.

    Do you really think for one second that Ferguson exploded just because of Michael Brown? The tension has been a long time brewing with a basically all White police force who don’t live there and whose main priority is to protect and serve themselves.

    I’m supposed to feel bad about cops being called “pigs” when they’re threatening to shoot civilians at the point of a gun for no good reason? Really? And that’s with… the whole world watching! What about all the years prior, when no one but the residents of Ferguson were watching, and enduring?

    The one truly amazing thing in all this is that ALL the Fergusons in this country aren’t Uprising!

  • ModeBeast

    The cops are getting tired, and “sick and tired” of these “fing protesters”, and by the weekend I predict they will start shooting them in large numbers.

  • OtterMatt

    Disrespect begets disrespect, and violence begets violence. If you feel good keeping that cycle moving around, then I’ve got nothin’ for you.

  • Stan B.

    I guess you didn’t read, are incapable of understanding, or chose to completely ignore what I said concerning that it’s a minor miracle that people everywhere have been willing to put up with police abuse for as long as they have- without responding in kind…

  • OtterMatt

    What other people do isn’t in your control. I said if YOU want to keep the hate going, then that’s your choice. Everyone is responsible for their own reactions. You can make all the assumptions you want to about who may or may not be mistreated when no one is looking, that’s just speculation. I prefer not to, because when the truth comes out the speculators don’t often look too good in hindsight, but spitting hate serves ONLY to drive the cycle onwards. Take that however you will.

  • Stan B.

    You make the blatant, outright assumption that I have never witnessed police abuse, or… been personally subject to it.

    Police have a long (long) history of reacting to and behaving differently with people of color than they do with Whites. I’m not for encouraging hatred, I’m for both sides owning up to their actions. And as someone brought up earlier, yes, the bar should be higher for police- aren’t they the ones who are supposed to mirror and exemplify the standard?

  • William Lanteigne

    12% voter turnout in a town that’s 2/3 black. That means that less than half the whites are voting, and none of the black population. If half the black population voted, it would be a very different story. All the protests will mean exactly NOTHING if the people don’t get off their butts and VOTE in November. Otherwise, this cycle will continue.