Suffolk County police arrested a cameraman for Stringer News Service in Bohemia on Friday night after he was told repeatedly by an officer to “go away” and stop recording the scene of a police chase.
Stringer—a company that chases news in Nassau and Suffolk counties and sells photos and videos to local news organizations—posted the video on YouTube Friday night after the incident.
The cameraman, Phil Datz, was standing on the sidewalk of Sycamore Avenue in Bohemia, video taping the end of a police chase, when a Fifth Precinct police officer told him to “just go away.”
“Where do you want me to go?” asked Datz.
“I don’t care where you go, go away,” said the officer, who later warned Datz that he would “get locked up” if he continued to argue with him.
The cameraman asked the officer if he should call Suffolk County police’s public information office, and the officer responded by saying: “You can call the commissioner for all I care, you’re going away.”
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” the officer said, “there’s nothing you can hold over my head or anybody out there, go away.”
Datz called Suffolk police and walked one block away from the scene, where he was later arrested, the owner of Stringer News Service, Tony Ryan, told the Press.
Suffolk County police confirmed that Datz was arrested and said he was charged with obstruction of governmental administration. He was taken to the Fifth Precinct stationhouse in Patchogue where he was fingerprinted and had a mugshot taken. He was later released.
“We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the arrest” of Datz, a police spokesman said. Datz can be heard referring to the cop as a “Sergeant” but the name and rank of the arresting officer was not released.
Ryan said a police officer apologized to him at the precinct, but told him nothing could be done about the arrest because Datz had already been booked.
Ryan said cops approach his staff occasionally when they cover the scene of an investigation but “not on this level.”
“Every cop is different,” he said.
Ryan described Datz as a “clean guy” who doesn’t have a record. He said they are considering filing a lawsuit, but haven’t made any decisions yet. This was the third arrest in three years of one of his employees, he said. Two arrests were made by Suffolk police and the other was by New York State police, Ryan said.