Last Saturday, near the Baltimore Police Department's Western District precinct, I filmed as a line of police in riot gear overwhelmed CP Photo Editor J.M. Giordano. At the same time, they arrested a Reuters photographer, Sait Serkan Gurbuz, while taking a photograph. He was later released.
Then on Monday, at Mondawmin Mall, I saw a number of police standing over a man who was lying on the ground. Someone yelled, "He was just taking pictures!" I began to film. He was yelling: "I'm not resisting! You're hurting my back. You're hurting my back."
As the police led him away, I yelled and asked him his name so I could try to follow up on what had happened to him. He did not answer.
As it happened, I found him Wednesday evening, as 101 people were released without charges from Central Booking. He is a freelance photojournalist named Shawn Carrié. He was shot in the head by police with a pepper pellet. After he was released, he went to Mercy Hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion, which had not been treated in the roughly 48 hours he was held in custody without being charged.
"I was taking pictures and . . . [the officer] aimed at me and he shot three. One I saw go to my right, one went over that way, and one went boom, right in my forehead. And I was like almost blacked out," Carrie told me outside the jail. Then they arrested him. He said he told them, "I'm a reporter, here's my press pass."
On his Twitter feed he explains more of what happened: "About 15 minutes later [after being shot], a police captain pointed me out while taking photos & said 'He goes' – then they arrested me.
"I complied with all police orders, & they were very cordial. I showed my press pass, & officer asked his supervisor if he could release me
"Captain insisted they take me in. The cop who arrested me said: I don't even know why they told to arrest this guy, he's a reporter.'"
On Tuesday night, after the curfew was imposed, the Baltimore police began to announce that members of the media needed to clear the area at Pennsylvania and North avenues or they would be arrested. They began shooting projectiles and then filled the area with tear gas. A number of reporters, including me, were affected.
But by the onset of curfew Wednesday night, we found that the intersection of Penn and North was almost like a media relations area. The space was swarmed with news outlets and police—but no one else. It is as if the police had the media cordoned off to ensure no one saw what happened in the rest of the city—or perhaps the media cordoned themselves. I was standing there for a moment when someone began to yell "Hey buddy" over and over. It sounded like a cop and I turned around, alarmed. It was a TV dude.
While the national press crowded that intersection, Giordano and I watched New Jersey state police lift up a shoeless and handcuffed man at Mount and North and carry him off.
We don't want to see the media targeted by the police, but it is also disheartening to see so much national media staying right where the police want them—where nothing is going on.
As this story was posted, a representative from the Baltimore Police returned our call. We will update with a statement as soon as they provide one.