Yuma Police release body-cam footage of journalist arrested

Yuma police released on Monday the body-cam video of the arrest of a freelance journalist who says officers violated his First Amendment rights.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 7:15 PM MST
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YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — The Yuma Police Department released body-cam footage of the arrest of a freelance journalist that happened earlier this year. Lucas Mullikin said his First Amendment rights were violated in May. Yuma Police Chief Thomas Garrity said that’s not the case.

Mullikin was driving when he saw police detaining a man who they said had been trespassing. Yuma Police said Mullikin got out of his car and started recording the officer. “When you start interjecting yourself into the scene, that’s when we have a problem because the officer was by himself. When you have an active resistor where the officer is fighting by himself, he’s gonna need a little bit more space,” Garrity said. Garrity said whether it’s a journalist or not, people recording an arrest need to stay at a distance where officers feel they can handle the situation safely for all parties.

The body-cam video released on the Yuma Police Department’s Youtube channel shows the moment Mullikin begins recording the officers. Keeping a short distance from the officer, he begins asking the officer questions. The officer answers Mullikin and then asks him to step back. “Mr. Mullikin was asked a total of eight times to get back. Never once in those eight times was he asked to stop recording. Never once was his phone taken to prevent him from recording,” Garrity said.

Garrity said that’s when the first officer on scene calls for assistance. Body-cam video from a second officer then shows what led to Mullikin’s arrest. He was asked to move back and when he didn’t, the officer forced him to move back, and he was then shoved to the ground. Mullikin can be seen getting up and walking closer to officers to record. That’s when he’s shoved back to the ground and arrested.

An officer can be heard on body-cam video saying “six feet” at least three times during the incident, referring to the distance Mullikin should stay back. The statements are seemingly referencing a law signed by then-Gov. Doug Ducey in July 2022 making it illegal to knowingly record video of police at a distance of eight feet or closer if the officer tells the person to stop. However, a federal judge blocked enforcement of that law last September after the ACLU and multiple media outlets argued it violated the First Amendment.

Mullikin, who’s an independent journalist, said his rights were violated and is seeking accountability. The Yuma police chief said Mullikin was in an active zone. Mullikin was arrested for resisting arrest and was given a court date. Yuma police said the incident is being investigated.

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.

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