U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

LA police officer points weapon at videojournalist covering Lakers NBA championship win

Incident Details

October 11, 2020

Los Angeles Police Department officers threatened an unidentified videojournalist with a firearm amid fanfare in downtown Los Angeles, California, on the night of Oct. 11, 2020, according to social media posts.

Earlier in the evening, the Los Angeles Lakers had won the NBA championship, drawing thousands of celebrants outside the Staples Center. According to the Los Angeles Times, the festivities “quickly soured,” though, and “the scene devolved into another roving standoff between police in riot gear and throngs of people on the street.”

Throughout the summer, Los Angeles and cities across the U.S. saw similar scenes, as thousands took to the streets to protest police brutality. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

Photographer Ricardo Salvador Miranda posted footage on Instagram the following day that captured the scene, which he captioned, “LAPD pulls gun on Lakers fans and the Press.”

In the clip, the LAPD officer can be seen jumping out of a cruiser with his pistol drawn, pointing behind the vehicle as multiple objects appear to be thrown in his direction.

The officer quickly gets back into the vehicle just as an object — which appears to be a beer bottle — strikes the passenger side of the cruiser and shatters. The officer once again jumps out of the vehicle with his firearm drawn, aiming at the crowd, when he notices the broadcast cameraman.

The officer, lowering his weapon, approaches the videojournalist and appears to indicate that he should move back or out of the area as other projectiles crash around them. The officer then returns to the vehicle.

Freelance photojournalist Christian Monterrosa, who was on assignment for The Associated Press, also posted the encounter on social media. Monterrosa, who did not respond to requests for comment, captioned a photo on Instagram, “An LAPD officer points his firearm at Laker fans on the street including a TV news cameraman, and myself, who were documenting it.”

The Tracker was unable to identify the videojournalist.

LAPD did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.

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