Journalist says Yuma police violated his 1st Amendment rights during arrest
YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — An independent journalist is sharing video of what he considers a violation of his First Amendment rights at the hands of the Yuma Police Department.
He was recording officers arresting someone else earlier this year when, he says, police shoved him and arrested him after he was filming the scene. Arizona’s Family obtained a couple of clips of what went down, including the recording freelance journalist Lucas Mullikin took and video from his girlfriend on scene. He doesn’t understand why police reacted with what he says is excessive force. Documenting police is part of the job for Mullikin.
“Police are not our enemy, but they definitely deserve to be monitored,” he said.
He’s now at the center of a story involving his own arrest when he says all he did was exercise his First Amendment rights. It all stems from a situation in Yuma in May when Mullikin saw police arresting someone. He claims officers were acting aggressively, so he started to record the confrontation. But then, police turned their attention to him. He said he was shoved and hurt and then charged with failure to obey a city official and resisting arrest. In the middle of all of this, he turned off his phone in order to protect his footage. His girlfriend took her own video. Mullikin later returned to the scene and used a tape measure to show he was 6 feet away while recording the initial arrest.
In 2022, a judge blocked a law that would have made it illegal to film officers within eight feet in Arizona.
“I’m a journalist. I am in the field all the time documenting in spaces, and I work closely with law enforcement, you know, I cover social unrest, and I know to give people their space, and I backed up and was letting them maintain the scene,” said Mullikin.
He hopes this case will spark change and increase accountability among Yuma Police.
“I’m really lucky I was able to record this and document this,” he said.
The Yuma Police Department says their body cam footage tells a different story. The chief is expected to address this issue next week, potentially releasing the body cam video at that time as well. Arizona’s Family will share that video once it is released.
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