‘He had no authority to be touching me at all!’ — NJ reporter’s experience
Charlie Kratovil, editor and publisher of New Brunswick Today, had no idea what he was getting into when he set out to cover the New Jersey Parent Summit at the Heldrich Hotel.
His coverage would end with him having his camera taken by CNN reporter April Ryan's bodyguard and him being escorted out by said bodyguard with his arm twisted behind his back, Kratovil says. The bodyguard Joel Morris of Illinois has been charged with assault and theft. Kratovil called into New Jersey 101.5 and gave his account.
Kratovil told me during my evening show that he'd been filming for two days with no problem. As soon as CNN's April Ryan took the stage, a security guard questioned his presence and threatened to take his camera if didn't remove it, he said.
"One thing led to another and he just grabbed the camera and bounced, he left the room," Kratovil said. He told me he gave chase saying, "Hey this guy stole my camera. Give me back my camera," and was eventually able to retrieve it.
Kratovil said he was ready to leave at that point, but Morris, who didn't want to be filmed, wasn't finished with him.
"He's in my face, sticking his hand in the camera and hitting the microphone. I'm not only worried about my physical safety, but also the camera being damaged, so I get away from him, get some space, and he chased me down, grabbed my left arm, twisted it behind my back almost like a police officer might do, put me in a compliance hold, and kept shoving me forward to get me out of the lobby of the hotel."
So where was hotel security?
"There were no security officers there at the time," Kratovil said. He told me he asked about security, but "they didn't make it until after I got ejected."
As far as I'm concerned, Kratovil wasn't doing anything wrong recording Morris because in New Jersey it's perfectly legal to record a conversation which you're a part of. This also took place in the hotel lobby, not where the summit was going on, so I don't think the guard had no authority at all to put his hands on Kratovil. Fortunately, it's all on video.
Kratovil left the house that day a fan of Ryan's, he said.
"I was not out to get her or anything like that. I was a fan of hers. I just wanted to get the full complete speech on video, put it on our YouTube channel. You'd figure that'd be a welcome thing, but for some reason she didn't want that and I think it's certainly hypocritical and really kind of strange," he said.
Kratovil says he's "exploring other options to hold Ryan accountable since she has not condemned this inappropriate illegal behavior of her employee."
Will he sue?
"It's possible. I would rather not go to court but it's the type of thing where if there's no response from Miss Ryan forthcoming and she's not at least condemning the actions" he might, he said.
Does Kratovil want an apology?
"Whether or not she apologizes to me is not the biggest deal, but I think she has a lot people that look up to her and she should do the right thing, and like any other journalist, don't support this," Kratovil said. "This is not OK but I haven't heard from her yet, so litigation is definitely a possibility."
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