U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Colorado TV news reporter assaulted while attempting to conduct an interview

Incident Details

Date of Incident
July 26, 2019


Was the journalist targeted?
Screenshot via KRDO

Colorado-based television news reporter Stephanie Sierra, right, and chief photojournalist Chappin Everett, behind the camera, were assaulted while attempting an interview. The camera was also attacked.

— Screenshot via KRDO
November 20, 2023 - Update

Case likely sealed for business owner who pushed TV journalists

The case against the business owner who pushed two journalists while they were attempting to interview him has likely been sealed.

Reporter Stephanie Sierra and photojournalist Chappin Everett were reporting a piece for KRDO-TV on illicit spas in Southern Colorado, and went to a business owned by Michael Reeg in July 2019 to interview him about a spa that was leasing property from him.

As soon as Sierra asked him about the spa, Reeg told the journalists to leave, took a swipe at Everett’s camera, and pushed both Sierra and Everett out the door. Everett told the police that aside from losing a rubber eyepiece, the camera was unharmed.

KRDO reported at the time that the police had issued Reeg a citation for harassment. But a representative for the Colorado Springs Police Department told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker via email on Nov. 20, 2023, that “a public criminal record does not exist” for Reeg and pointed to Colorado law on sealing of records, which allows for sealing following an arrest if there was an acquittal or if charges were not filed or were dropped.

July 26, 2019

A KRDO News Channel 13 reporter was assaulted while attempting to conduct an interview in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 26, 2019.

Reporter Stephanie Sierra walked into Tri-Star Masonry with chief photojournalist Chappin Everett at approximately 12:30 p.m. looking to interview the owner, Michael Reeg, in connection with the station’s investigative reporting on illicit spas in Southern Colorado, KRDO reported.

In the video published by KRDO, Reeg initially agrees to answer Sierra’s questions. When her first question mentions the spa leasing property from Reeg, he cuts her off, tells them to leave and moves toward her.

“Why don’t you guys get the hell out of here,” Reeg is heard saying. “I’m telling you to get the hell out of my place. And get that camera out of here.” Reeg can be seen moving past Sierra toward Everett, growing hostile as he attempts to swipe the camera away. A second unidentified man seems to attempt to prevent Reeg from hitting the camera.

According to the police report released to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, “[Sierra] said that [Reeg] then grabbed her wrist as they were walking to the door.”

“She also told me that Mr. Reeg was yelling obscenities at them as they were leaving,” Officer Tyler Koets wrote in the report. “I asked her if any of the interaction caused her pain and she said that it did not, but it was alarming.”

The video becomes shaky as the camera is jostled, and it appears that both Sierra and Everett were pushed out of the door. Once outside, Reeg again swipes at the camera and an object can be heard hitting the ground.

In the article for KRDO, Sierra wrote, “Our team decided to file a police report today because of Mr. Reeg’s reaction to our questions after he agreed to answer them and because his actions occurred while we were in the process of leaving his business — as requested.”

Officers issued Reeg a citation for harassment.

Sierra declined to comment until the incident has been fully resolved.

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