Man sentenced after attacking New York TV reporter on camera
The New York man who attacked reporter Howard Thompson with a metal baseball bat on camera was sentenced to community service on Nov. 26, 2019, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker via email.
Thompson and cameraman John Frasse went to Jose Lebron-Pimentel’s auto repair shop in the Bronx in February 2018 to report for WPIX-TV on allegations that Lebron-Pimentel had refused to pay a court-ordered judgment.
Upon their arrival and while Frasse was filming, Lebron-Pimentel ran at them with a bat, chasing them into the street and hitting them both.
Under the conditions of a plea agreement, Lebron-Pimental pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon and was sentenced to a conditional discharge mandating 180 hours of community service. Charges for assault and attempted assault were dismissed.
As PIX11 reporter Howard Thompson tried to conduct an on-camera interview with a mechanic in New York on Feb. 6, 2018, the man attacked Thompson and his cameraman with a metal baseball bat.
Thompson is the host of "Help Me Howard," a news segment on PIX11 that confronts individuals accused of unscrupulous behavior.
On Jan. 25, Thompson made his first attempt to interview Jose Lebron-Pimentel, the owner of an auto repair shop in the Bronx. Thompson wanted to ask Lebron-Pimentel about allegations that he had refused to honor a court-ordered $2,000 judgement. Thompson left after failing to find Lebron-Pimentel.
On Feb. 6, Thompson and a PIX11 photographer, John Frasse, visited the auto repair shop again. They quickly found Lebron-Pimentel inside the garage, armed with a metal bat. PIX11 caught the entire altercation on tape.
"Jose? All right, no bats! No bats!" Thompson says as Lebron-Pimentel runs out of the garage with the bat.
Lebron-Pimentel chases Thompson and Frasse into the street, swinging the bat in their direction and striking Thompson in the arm and Frasse in the hip.
Thompson later said on PIX11 that he called the police immediately after the attack, and officers quickly arrived on the scene and arrested Lebron-Pimentel.
The New York City Police Department said that Thompson and Frasse were attacked around noon on East 180th Street, in the Bronx. Lebron-Pimentel was arrested on charges of assault and held on $5,000 bail.