Deputy Tries To Stop Recording Of Fight

John Madewell
WTVC NewsChannel 9
Jun. 20, 2010

A fight broke out at the Strut Monday night and a trained video camera operator captured it.

Chris Winston is a freelance videographer. Winston was working on a rap video down at the Strut when the fight broke out. Aside from the officer's physical action, he says his civil rights and press rights were violated.

People start screaming and running down Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Winston rolled when this melee broke out at the Strut. After officers force the young man to the street, an unidentified female Hamilton County deputy quickly approaches Winston and grabs him by his shirt. He keeps shooting and the video points skyward at an angle. You hear him say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, you got no right."

NewsChannel 9 sat down with Winston, "If you don't use your rights, then you have nothing." He believes the deputy came at him for one reason, "Because I had a camera and it's like she was trying to protect what was being done to an individual."

The confrontation happened near the intersection of MLK and King Street. After the contact, Winston says what happened next upset him even more. He says the officer tried to take the camera away from him. His camera picked up his immediate comments, " No you don't. No you' don't. You better get up off of me."

He gave a further explanation, "She was pulling the camera and my shirt at the same time and as she realized she couldn't take it because it was strapped on, she let go because she seen the green light on the camera."

An attorney told Winston because he wasn't injured and the camera wasn't damaged, he had no assault claim.

Sheriff's department spokesperson Janice Atkinson said, "If this person feels he has been wronged, he needs to file a complaint with the Internal Affairs Division."

As of today, he has not. Meanwhile Riverbend Friends of the Festival officials say video recording is banned when artists are on the stages down by the river. But Winston had every constitutional right to have his camera at the Strut.

Public Relations Director Andy Tallent said, "It's a free event so video cameras would be fine at the Strut."

Winston's video shows officers saying nothing to other people passing by, but a CPD officer singles out Winston. You can hear her say, "Move back, move back. Don't let me ask you one more time, or you're going to jail."

Winston says he understands officer's duties to respond to situations like a fight in a huge crowd but, "I had no problem with them doing their job, I just didn't like how they did it."

Winston hasn't filed a complaint against CPD either. He just feels officers need a better understanding of the First Amendment and freedom of the press.

NewsChannel 9 shared this video with both law enforcement departments. C-P-D information officer Kim Noorbergen said this was not about the video. "When we're telling people to move back, we're trying to disperse the crowd, not concerned with the video. When officers tell people to move back, that is a lawful order."

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