U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

BuzzFeed News journalist arrested in Seattle while asking for comment

Incident Details

Date of Incident
November 4, 2018
Seattle, Washington

Arrest/Criminal Charge

Arresting Authority
Seattle Police Department
  • Trespassing
    • Nov. 5, 2018: Charges pending
    • Oct. 2, 2019: Charges dropped
Detention Date
Release Date
Unnecessary use of force?
November 19, 2018 - Update

Restraining orders dismissed

On Nov. 19, 2018, a Seattle judge dismissed both of the temporary restraining orders against Montgomery.

November 4, 2018

On Nov. 4, 2018, BuzzFeed News reporter Blake Montgomery was arrested in Seattle on suspicion of trespassing.

The Stranger, a Seattle alt-weekly, reports that Montgomery was arrested while in the process of reporting out a story about Tank Hapertefen, a man who died after injecting silicone into his genitals. When Montgomery went to the Seattle home of Tank's former partner, Dylan Hapertefen, to ask him for comment, the occupants of the home called the police. The police arrested Montgomery and took him to jail. After spending almost 24 hours in jail, he was released on $1,000 bail on the evening of Nov. 5.

Dylan and another man living with him, Daniel Balderas Hapertefen, also filed for temporary restraining orders. On Nov. 6, a judge granted both Dylan and Daniel temporary restraining orders against Montgomery.

On Nov. 15, BuzzFeed News published an article about Tank's death. The article — co-written by Montgomery and his BuzzFeed News colleague Katie Notopoulos — mentions Montgomery's arrest.

"Dylan and the four pups who lived with Tank in Seattle until his death initially did not answer multiple requests for comment via emails, calls, and texts," Montgomery wrote in an article about Tank, published on Nov. 15. "When a BuzzFeed News reporter attempted to reach them in person, they called the police. That reporter was arrested and jailed. The following week, Dylan and a pup, Daniel Balderas Hapertefen, filed restraining orders against the same reporter. A week later, Dylan responded to an email from BuzzFeed News, answering a series of questions."

In a statement, BuzzFeed News criticized the Seattle police department.

"This was an outrageous and disproportionate response to a reporter doing his job," the statement reads. "We strongly dispute the Seattle Police Department's account of what transpired, and look forward to reviewing all the available evidence — including camera footage — to understand what warranted the jailing of a reporter for nearly 24 hours."

The Seattle district attorney's office ultimately declined to bring trespassing charges against Montgomery.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].