Investigation finds that officers used excessive force against Australian correspondent, photojournalist
In an investigation released on May 24, 2023, the Interior Department determined that two U.S. Park Police officers used excessive force against two Australian journalists who were covering protests in Washington, D.C. in June 2020.
7News Australia correspondent Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myers were reporting live on protests in Lafayette Square sparked by the murder of George Floyd. In footage of officers advancing to clear the park, an officer wearing riot gear can be seen shoving Myers with a shield and hitting his camera.
As Myers and Brace fled the scene, a second officer can be seen striking Brace in the back with a baton. According to the Interior Department report, the blow damaged a camera lens in her bag.
The investigation determined that though the officer was justified in shoving Myers the first time, both officers used excessive force in the subsequent attacks on the journalists.
“We determined that an objectively reasonable officer on the scene would not have concluded that the reporter posed a threat under the circumstances,” the investigation stated.
It added that the report was sent to the National Park Service Director Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III for “any action deemed appropriate.”
A news crew for Australia’s 7News was assaulted by law enforcement while covering protests against police violence in Washington, D.C., on June 1, 2020, a chaotic day for demonstrations throughout the nation’s capital.
Correspondent Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myers were reporting live on-air amid a group of protesters facing a police line when officers rushed the crowd. An officer wearing riot gear can be seen pushing Myers with a shield and hitting his camera. As Myers and Brace fled the scene, an officer can be seen swinging a baton at Brace.
“They were quite violent and they do not care who they’re targeting at the moment,” Brace told in-studio anchors during a subsequent report for 7News.
“We were trying to move on. The last thing we ever want is to get in the way, but there was just no opportunity,” she continued. “There was really no choice but to try to hide in that corner, hoping that they pass by ... as you can see in those pictures, they did not.”
Brace also told the anchors that a rubber bullet hit her “on the backside” and that another round struck Myers on the neck.
7News did not respond to requests for comment or make its journalists available for interviews.
D.C. is notable for the large number of different police forces that operate within its borders. The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia did not respond to requests for comment on these incidents as of press time.
Protests against police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the country after a viral video showed a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.