Police Used Excessive Force on 2 Australian Journalists, U.S. Finds
Two U.S. Park Police officers used excessive force against two Australian journalists covering a George Floyd protest outside the White House in June 2020, according to an investigation by the Interior Department’s inspector general.
The investigation, published Wednesday, found that the officers violated U.S. Park Police policies when one pushed a cinematographer’s camera with his shield and the other struck a reporter with his baton.
“We determined that an objectively reasonable officer on the scene would not have concluded that the reporter posed a threat under the circumstances,” the investigation stated. It added that the findings had been delivered to the National Park Service director for “any action deemed appropriate.”
The Australian prime minister at the time, Scott Morrison, called for an inquiry into how police officers treated the two journalists, who were on assignment for Australia’s Channel 7, one of the nation’s major networks. Other journalists also faced attacks as they covered the demonstrations against racial injustice in the United States.
The journalists, who were not named in the investigation, were identified in a New York Times article at the time as Tim Myers, the camera operator, and Amelia Brace, the reporter.
Mr. Myers and Ms. Brace were covering the demonstration as President Donald J. Trump threatened a crackdown on protests in a Rose Garden speech that started at 6:43 p.m. Before Washington’s 7 p.m. curfew, officers in riot gear and National Guard soldiers started to disperse the crowd.
An officer hit Mr. Myers with a riot shield, knocking his camera to the ground. As Mr. Myers and Ms. Brace started to run, another officer appeared to swing a baton at Ms. Brace’s back.
Mr. Myers filmed as the officer slammed into him, with the footage airing live on Australian television. When Ms. Brace was back on camera, she said: “You heard us yelling there that we were media, but they, they don’t care.”
On Wednesday, the inspector general’s report said U.S. Park Police guidelines call for officers “to use ‘only the minimum level of reasonable force necessary to control a situation,’ which includes a requirement that an officer ‘shall de-escalate the amount of force to the lowest level necessary to maintain control’ of a subject.”