Police Abuse

Journalist Busted in Ferguson Fights Back in Court

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Trey Yingst
Trey Yingst

In November, a grand jury in St. Louis County announced Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting death of Michael Brown. I traveled to Ferguson prior to the announcement and wrote about the events that preceded and followed. As protests ramped up in the days before the announcement, demonstrators and police clashed resulting in arrests each night.

One of the individuals arrested, however, was not a protester. He was a journalist from Washington D.C. named Trey Yingst, and I was standing around 100 feet away when he was arrested. An on-scene commander named Lt. Lohr informed me that Trey was charged with failure to disperse (from the street) despite the fact that hundreds of witnesses saw him taken into custody while standing on the sidewalk. 

Now, Trey is fighting back in federal court. The ACLU of Missouri has filed a civil rights action on his behalf. Mr. Yingst wants to make sure others' rights won't be violated as his were. When I spoke with him after the lawsuit was filed, he stressed deterrence as his primary motivation: "I'm not looking for any money out of this, I'm not looking for any fame. I'm really just looking to see that this doesn't happen to me again, and that it doesn't happen to other journalists."

It was evident as soon as Mr. Yingst was arrested that a court challenge was likely. Just one day before his arrest, a federal court order secured by the Missouri ACLU:

Ordered that Defendant County of St. Louis, Missouri, its officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and all persons under their supervision, or within their control, are permanently enjoined from interfering with individuals who are photographing or recording at public places but who are not threatening the safety of others or physically interfering with the ability of law enforcement to perform their duties.

The Legal Director of the ACLU of Missouri, which is representing Mr. Yingst, spoke with me about the importance of using litigation as a tool for police accountability:

The Constitution secures important rights for the press and citizens and the injunctions we have obtained against St. Louis County make clear that those rights include they very protected activity that Trey was engaged in when he was arrested. If Lt. Vollmer and St. Louis County insist on ignoring the constitutional rights of the public and defying court orders, then we will resort to lawsuits like this one to hold them accountable.

St. Louis County has a history of disregarding citizens' constitutional rights. Within days of the shooting of Michael Brown, the County was sued for violating Missouri's open records law. That same week, another suit was filed against St. Louis County for arresting journalists and citizens who chose to film the police in public settings. Another lawsuit challenging the police practice of arresting protestors who remained stationary for more than five seconds while protesting was also necessary, and resulted in an injunction.

Let's hope this most recently filed case, on top of all the others, succeeds in reminding police that they too are required to follow the law.

NEXT: Brickbat: We'll Get It Right Next Time

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  1. When I spoke with him after the lawsuit was filed, he stressed deterrence as his primary motivation…

    Unless he’s some crazy how able to sue the bad actors directly, even a huge payout won’t deter squat.

  2. Why doesn’t he join a class action suit with the protesters or is this another “I’m one of the special people. You can’t do this to me!” scenarios?

    1. I’d rather see them have to fight 100 lawsuits instead of just one

      1. I’m not really against suing the police 100 times, it just bothers me when people claim special rights based on profession, sex, race, handicap, age, etc. rights should be universal. If it is wrong to arrest a reporter for something it should be wrong to arrest anyone for the same action.

        1. I agree,now I need to shovel snow.

    2. It’s odd to see someone criticized on a libertarian site for pursuing his individual case rather than trying to join a class action suit.

      1. Since when did a simple question become criticism? Oh, oh, I know! When Bo the retard came to town!

        1. “or is this another “I’m one of the special people. You can’t do this to me!” scenarios?”

          Yup, no hint of criticism in there!

          1. Yes I was critizing him, maybe unfairly, because the press loves to get close up shots of protesters being arrested and then go happily off to write a cop felating article about law and order. That is unless a reporter gets arrest and then it is a massive rights violation that shakes the republic to its foundation.

            1. Fair enough point about some journalists, but I don’t think anyone with an individual cause of action should be faulted for not trying to join a class action.

              1. It was a snarky way at pointing out the hypocrisy of the press. I’m not familiar with this particular journalist, so that maybe unfair to him, but when you site freedom of the press rather than the right of the people to freely assemble in your complaint, I’m skeptical of your motivation.

    3. I don’t think he is acting special snowflaky at all. I wish we would see more suits from the media who were arrested in Fuckastan. I think his case would have different issues than the protesters, as they had the specific court order about leaving media alone.

  3. just before I looked at the draft four $9879 , I didn’t believe that…my… father in law had been truly erning money part time from there computar. . there dads buddy has done this for only 21 months and just repaid the dept on their apartment and bourt a great Land Rover Range Rover .
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  4. It’s time for one of these lawsuits to make it to the discovery phase. Includi personal emails/texts from all the bad actors involved. I bet a throurough perusal of personal data from these assholes will be very useful in dismissing a bunh of bullshit prosecution.

    Btw why hasn’t anyone gone after policeone boards yet. A whole lotta bias up in there?.

  5. Let’s hope this most recently filed case, on top of all the others, succeeds in reminding police that they too are required to follow the law.

    “Hope is not a strategy!”

    1. It won two presidential elections…

      1. When was the last time someone running for H.M.F. IN CHARGE had a plan?

        1. “Plans are useless; but planning is essential.” — Eisenhower

          1. They have a plan,to get elected.They do not think any farther ahead.

    2. Exactly. Ferg cops are not known for learning their lessons so long as they remain unaccountable.

  6. Good for this guy! Hope he wins

    1. If he wins money, the tax payers lose. Not sure if he can sue for bad actor termination? Is that even possible?

  7. I remember a scene a couple decades ago when I was saw the cops beat up a bunch of college kids, and I stopped on the sidewalk to watch in shock. This was back in those days when I naively thought the cops were there to serve and protect. Anyway, one of them threatened to arrest me for loitering because I was standing still on the sidewalk. According to him, sidewalks are for traveling. And if you’re not going somewhere, then you can be arrested. So if this guy was arrested while standing on the sidewalk, then I could see an asshole prosecutor offering loitering as a plea. Either way, nothing will happen to the cops.

  8. stongarmrobberybyathug! Trey Yingst got what he deserved!

    Napalm all those who dare protest the death of an Imperfect Negro!

  9. Why does anyone stand anymore when “…land of the free, and the home..” is played?

    That anthem has become a joke. Free people do not put up with this sort of nonsense.

    1. True ,they protest and shut down highways and other areas to drive their point home.Just like during the civil rights protests. You have to be a major pain in the ass to not only the government ,but,the people in general.

  10. just before I looked at the draft four $9879 , I didn’t believe that…my… father in law had been truly erning money part time from there computar. . there dads buddy has done this for only 21 months and just repaid the dept on their apartment and bourt a great Land Rover Range Rover .
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  12. Til I looked at the bank draft that said $9222 , I didn’t believe that my father in law woz like they say actualey bringing home money part-time on their laptop. . there best friend has been doing this 4 only about 1 year and just now repayed the morgage on there villa and bourt a brand new audi .
    Check This Out ………….. http://www.jobsfish.com

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    ???????? http://www.paygazette.com

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  16. my best friend’s mother-in-law makes $88 an hour on the laptop . She has been without a job for ten months but last month her check was $12564 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check out here………
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  17. Someone kill the bot!

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