Man sentenced after attack on Washington state reporters
A Yakima, Washington, man who screamed and threw a beer bottle at two local reporters, and was said by one to have chased them with a knife before breaking their equipment, was sentenced on Jan. 14, 2019, to a year in prison and a year in a community custody, or probation program.
The man, Ramon C. Corona, approached reporters Maria Leal and Trisha McCauley in October 2017 while they were shooting footage in preparation for an interview with a local city council candidate. He screamed at them to stop filming, left during the interview, but then returned, throwing a beer bottle at them and threatening to kill them. Leal said Corona chased all three with a knife, then circled back to the interview site, where he broke their video equipment.
Corona was later arrested and charged with three counts of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and one count of malicious mischief for property damage.
In a phone call with the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, the Yakima County Superior Court clerk confirmed that Corona pleaded guilty to the first charge of second-degree assault against Leal, but that the other two counts had been dropped. His case was closed as of March 6, 2019.
Trisha McCauley, a reporter for local TV station KIMA, was chased and threatened by a knife-wielding man in Yakima, Washington, on Oct. 30, 2017. The man also broke McCauley's camera equipment.
McCauley and another local TV reporter — Maria Leal of KAPP and KVEW — were preparing for an interview with Jason White, a local city council candidate, when they noticed a man screaming at them from across the street.
“He was yelling, ‘Get the fuck out of here,’ and waving his arms, so I picked my camera up and moved closer to Maria,” McCauley said. “I felt safer in a group.”
McCauley said that when White drove up for the interview, the man approached him, but then suddenly left as they began the interview.
“We mic'd [White] up, and he was spelling his name for a mic check when I heard a bottle break,” McCauley said.
“We looked over, and the man had thrown a glass bottle that shattered on the sidewalk near us,” she said.
According to McCauley, the man continued demanding that she and Leal leave, so the reporters decided to pack up and continue the interview with White somewhere else.
McCauley said that she saw the man lift up his shirt and pull out a knife.
“We just took off running down the street,” she said, adding that the man chased her, Leal, and White for about half a block. The man then returned to the spot where McCauley and Leal had set up for the interview and began breaking their equipment.
“I turned around and saw him chuck my camera to the ground and break it, and there was a lot of cracking," McCauley said.
McCauley said that Leal called the police while the man hid in a nearby house. Police eventually took the man into custody after a police stand-off that lasted for several hours.
McCauley said that her TV station has sent her camera away to be checked for internal damage. In the meantime, she is sharing a camera with another reporter.