Police Abuse

Reno Newspaper Photographer, 60, Assaulted by Deputies While Covering Fire

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Reno Gazette-Journal Photo Director Tim Dunn was thrown to the ground by a pair of deputies while trying to cover a fire. Via his own newspaper:

A 60-year-old Reno Gazette-Journal photojournalist was thrown to the ground, handcuffed and suffered minor injuries Monday after sheriff's deputies allege he obstructed and resisted them while trying to take photographs of a destructive fire in Sun Valley.

About 5:42 p.m., Monday Washoe County Sheriff's Office deputies cited Tim Dunn for obstruction and resisting.

Dunn, the newspaper's photo director and a 21-year employee there, was taking photos of a fire that broke out near Flora Way and East Fourth Avenue that ultimately destroyed two homes and multiple structures.

Dunn said he was told to leave the area, and directed to another location farther away from the scene. He said he was ultimately taken to the ground by two deputies — one who shoved his foot on his back, and the other who pushed his face in the gravel. His cheek has a large scrape on it.

Dunn said deputies claimed he was trying to impersonate a firefighter by wearing similar protective gear, which is the kind of thing you should wear when you're near a fire, which is why firefighters wear them in the first place:

Beryl Love, Gazette-Journal executive editor, said there have been several instances during the past year where staff were not given access to scenes where they had a right to be.

But Love said Monday's incident goes above and beyond press access.

"The brutal nature in which Tim, a veteran photographer with more than 20 years experience, was treated by sheriff's deputies is beyond comprehension," Love said. "Their use of excessive force on a fellow professional who also has an important job to do is shocking. His rights were clearly violated."

Love said the newspaper is preparing a formal administrative complaint and is advising Dunn on possible civil actions related to his injuries.

Hat tip to Thomas Lucente Jr.