Three years ago, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies forcefully arrested LAist reporter Josie Huang while she was covering a protest.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to charge Huang, noting that the reporter for LAist — an NPR affiliate then known as KPCC — was “in a public area filming a protest.”
“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,” prosecutors wrote at the time.
While then-Sheriff Alex Villanueva defended the arrest, there’s a new sheriff in town, as Villanueva lost his reelection bid to Sheriff Robert Luna.
The county and LASD have reached a $700,000 settlement with Huang, according to a Monday statement from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
The RCFP said to their knowledge, the payout is “the largest award to an individual journalist whose rights were violated in connection with protest coverage in 2020.”
“The settlement … sets a new benchmark for journalists arrested or assaulted by law enforcement,” the organization said in a statement. “The agreement is also significant for its training requirements, intended to help prevent local law enforcement officials from unlawfully arresting and assaulting journalists in the future.”
In a statement, an LASD spokesperson noted that “there was a thorough internal investigation into this incident and the appropriate administrative action was taken.”
“We understand the role of the media during newsworthy events and make every effort to accommodate them with a designated press area and appropriate access,” the statement said. “We have department policy that addresses news media interactions and first amendment privileges.”