U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Phoenix television reporter hit by projectile; news van vandalized

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 30, 2020
Phoenix, Arizona


Was the journalist targeted?

Equipment Damage

Equipment Broken
REUTERS/Nicole Neri

Protesters march toward Phoenix Police Department headquarters on May 29, 2020.

— REUTERS/Nicole Neri
May 30, 2020

Phoenix television reporter Josh Sanders was hit in the thigh with a rubber projectile while reporting across from police headquarters on protests in the city on May 30, 2020. Sanders and his crew were unable to retrieve their news vehicle due to the protests, and found it vandalized the next morning.

The protests were sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Sanders, a reporter for 12 News, Phoenix's NBC affiliate, was standing outside of Phoenix Police Department headquarters when police fired the projectile, hitting him in the thigh. In a live broadcast after the incident, he said the impact was “very painful” and that he didn’t know why police shot in his crew’s direction.

Later, he found another such projectile on the ground and posted the photo to Twitter.

He also posted a picture of his thigh, with a large pink, red and purple bruise.

Sanders did not immediately reply to an interview request from the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

Sanders wrote on Twitter that because of the protests his crew could not retrieve its 12 News car parked outside of Phoenix City Hall until the next morning. When 12 News retrieved it, it had been tagged in black paint with George Floyd’s name.

In an emailed response to a request for comment, Phoenix Police Department spokeswoman Mercedes A. Fortune wrote that she has not briefed on that specific incident.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred total incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country related to the death of George Floyd while in police custody. Find all of these cases here.

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