The Los Angeles County sheriff mentioned on Tuesday that he used to be investigating a reporter at The Los Angeles Instances who had reported allegations that he used to be interested by covering up a case of inmate abuse, a press release that drew accusations that he used to be violating the reporter’s First Modification rights.
The reporter, Alene Tchekmedyian, printed an article on Monday detailing a felony declare filed through an officer, during which the officer accused Sheriff Alex Villanueva of blocking off an investigation into the incident and retaliating towards whistle-blowers.
Ms. Tchekmedyian additionally printed safety video pictures of the incident, during which a police deputy handcuffed an inmate who had punched him within the face. As soon as the inmate used to be at the ground, the officer saved his knee at the inmate’s head for 3 mins.
At a information convention on Tuesday, the sheriff mentioned he used to be investigating “all events” concerned within the leaked video, which he mentioned used to be “stolen belongings that used to be got rid of illegally.” He stood subsequent to huge pictures of Ms. Tchekmedyian and two people.
“What she receives illegally and the L.A. Instances makes use of it, I’m beautiful positive that’s an enormous complicated space of legislation and freedom of the clicking and all that,” Sheriff Villanueva mentioned. “On the other hand, when it’s stolen subject matter, sooner or later you in reality change into a part of the tale.”
Kevin Merida, the chief editor of The Los Angeles Instances, mentioned in a observation that “Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s assault on Alene Tchekmedyian’s First Modification rights for doing newsworthy reporting on a video that confirmed a deputy kneeling on a handcuffed inmate’s head is outrageous.”
“His try to criminalize information reporting is going towards well-established constitutional legislation,” Mr. Merida persevered. “We will be able to vigorously shield Tchekmedyian’s and The Los Angeles Instances’s rights in any continuing or investigation introduced through government.”
Katie Townsend, the deputy govt director for the Newshounds Committee for Freedom of the Press, mentioned the investigation of a journalist as a result of her reporting violated the First Modification.
“Publishing newsworthy details about an alleged legislation enforcement cover-up that sought to dam an investigation into the usage of over the top pressure is constitutionally safe process, and is obviously within the public passion,” Ms. Townsend mentioned. “We condemn the dep.’s movements within the most powerful phrases, and urge it to instantly drop this purported investigation.”
Ms. Tchekmedyian, who covers the sheriff’s division, broke the story on March 25 that Los Angeles County officers didn’t price the inmate as a result of they had been anxious the incident would generate damaging exposure for its resemblance to the homicide of George Floyd, a Black guy who died in Would possibly 2020 in police custody after an officer knelt on his neck.
Ms. Tchekmedyian’s article on Monday implicated Sheriff Villanueva as the only directing the cover-up.
On the information convention on Tuesday, Sheriff Villanueva denied the cover-up claims and mentioned that he used to be investigating the leak of the video.
“We will be able to now not be the one birthday celebration investigating this,” Sheriff Villanueva mentioned. “There shall be different businesses who can be totally investigating this and tracking what we’re doing. And it is going to be passed over to the fitting prosecutorial businesses so that they make a decision.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Division mentioned in an e-mail on Tuesday that the dep. used to be “not able to remark any longer because of a number of energetic ongoing investigations, pending litigation, together with a legal investigation.”
“What we will say is Sheriff Alex Villanueva is dedicated to transparency and duty,” the dep. mentioned.