Charges dropped in attack on Miami reporter
Charges were dropped against two people who attacked reporter Bobeth Yates and photojournalist Ebenezer Mends of Miami TV station WFOR-TV while they were filming in Miami Beach, Florida, according to Miami-Dade County case files reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
Yates and Mends were recording a fight in the South Beach nightlife area on May 12, 2021, when some of those involved in the fight approached them and demanded not to be filmed, subsequently attacking both journalists and damaging Mends’ camera.
Miami Beach police officers arrested Alysia Nicole Freed and Billy Lee Bronner that day, charging both with criminal mischief and battery and Bonner with resisting an officer without violence. Bronner was issued stay-away orders from Yates and Mends on May 13 and June 10 in 2021.
Prosecutors declined to prosecute both sets of charges. Bronner’s case was closed on July 6, 2022, and Freed’s on Aug. 8.
Bobeth Yates, a reporter for CBS4 News in Miami, Florida, was attacked on May 12, 2021, while she was working on a story about rising crime rates in South Beach.
Yates was near Fifth Street and Ocean Drive in South Beach to report on the Miami Beach City Commission passing a resolution to stop alcohol sales past 2 a.m. in the city’s entertainment district as a way to curb unruly behavior, the station reported.
Yates was with photojournalist Ebenezer Mends doing research in the busy nightlife area about 9 p.m. when they started recording a fight in front of them. After Mends started filming, some of the people involved in the fight came over and demanded not to be filmed.
When they started pushing the camera and hitting Mends, Yates said in the report, she tried to get in the way.
“To be honest, I've been reporting for a very long time,” Yates said in the report. “I don't want to date myself, but about 20 years and I've never been attacked like this on a story.”
She said both she and Mends were hit. “The first hit came when we tried to kind of block the camera and I kind of stood in between everything because they started really coming on to Ebenezer and attacking him.”
At one point, Yates said, maybe four or five people surrounded Mends. She said she tried to push them back but they hit her and tried to attack Mends and the camera, which was damaged.
“They also threw a bottle of liquid what I believe is some sort of alcohol because it was literally burning our skin, my eyes,” she said.
Yates, who didn’t respond to U.S. Press Freedom Tracker requests for comment, called police and followed the people who harassed her and Mends, the report said.
Miami Beach police officers detained two subjects near Seventh Street and Ocean Drive. The subjects were arrested for criminal mischief, resisting an officer and battery, the Miami Beach Police Department confirmed to the Tracker.
Police also confirmed damage to the Sony PXW-X400 video camera, belonging to the CBS News crew, and stated damage was estimated at $90,000, if the camera needed to be replaced. Mends’ assault and the equipment damage is documented by the Tracker here.
Editor's Note: The date of the assault is May 12, 2021, not May 15, as originally published.