SAN FRANCISCO, CA - In the aftermath of a KGO-TV news crew being handcuffed and detained by Napa County Sheriff's deputies last week while the journalists were trying to cover a brush fire, KGO-TV news director Kevin Keeshan today says that an internal affairs investigation into the actions taken by two deputies has been started. In addition, KGO-TV photojournalist Craig Southern and reporter Wayne Freedman have individually filed official citizen complaints against the officers, and they have been interviewed by internal affairs investigators. Keeshan also says the Napa County District Attorney's office has, at the station's request, opened their own criminal investigation into the matter and Southern and Freedman are being interviewed by one of the DA's investigators.
It all started on Wednesday, July 11, when the two journalists were trying to cover a brush fire from a position where civilians and other photojournalists were standing and walking at the time. Southern and Freedman were briefly handcuffed and held in the back of a sheriff's car after a confrontation that ended up with Southern's TV camera being confiscated and Freedman's cell phone broken in two by the officers. The whole affair was photographed by San Francisco Chronicle photojournalist Kim Komenich, and the pictures showed an aggressive officer trying to take Southern's camera away from him while Southern tried to protect the gear from being harmed.
After the incident a Napa County Sheriff's department captain apologized for the incident when the journalists were released.
A detailed account of the incident step-by-step was later written and distributed to the San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographers Association by the KGO-TV duo. Southern and Freedman's accounts of the incident are online here.
A timeline for the duration of the investigations is not known at this time.