New York Times freelancer Robert Stolarik was arrested and allegedly beaten by the NYPD on August 4 while taking pictures for the paper in the Bronx. Yesterday, the police department gave Mr. Stolarik back his press credential, which was taken at the time of his arrest. The National Press Photographers Association, which has had its general counsel, Mickey Osterreicher, working with Times lawyers and negotiating with the NYPD on Mr. Stolarik’s behalf announced the return of his press pass in a blog post.
“We are very appreciative that the NYPD reconsidered their position with regard to the return of Robert’s credentials but still believe it is unfortunate that they were taken in the first place and we will work very diligently to see that the charges are dismissed,” Mr. Osterreicher said.
Mr. Stolarik was charged with obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. The NYPD said Mr. Stolarik refused to comply with officers’ orders to stand back from another arrest resulting in an officer being “inadvertently hit in the face” with the photographers’ camera. Afterwards, the NYPD said Mr. Stolarik “violently resisted” his own arrest. Mr. Stolarik described the police department’s version of events as “the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” He claims he was arrested and “beaten” by officers without cause.
Along with his press credentials, the NYPD also gave Mr. Stolarik back his camera equipment a few days after his arrest. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Mr. Stolarik had described the return of his press pass and equipment as his “main concern.”
“This is my living. This is how I survive and I did nothing wrong. All I did was try to do my job. It’s like, I show up to take pictures, do my job and the next thing I know, I have no equipment, no press credential,” he said.