U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

TV photojournalist attacked by man wielding a metal baton, news vehicle damaged

Incident Details

WWJ-AM/Mike Campbell

A man uses a metal baton to smash the windshield of a local TV station's news truck, on Aug. 2, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan.

— WWJ-AM/Mike Campbell
September 16, 2019 - Update

Detroit man sentenced in attack on reporters, news vehicles

A Detroit man who struck local reporters’ vehicles with a metal baton was sentenced on Sept. 16, 2019, to two years of probation and fined $1,819, according to court records reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

The man, Edmund Lionel Gilliam, first interrupted WXYZ-TV photojournalist Mike Krotche and reporter Nia Harden while they were filming a live shot from the scene of an earlier fatal car crash in Detroit. Gilliam then went to the nearby car of WWJ radio reporter Mike Campbell, who was also reporting from the scene, and struck it multiple times with a metal baton before going to the WXYZ news truck and smashing its windshield. Krotche and Harden were not injured.

Gilliam was later arrested and charged with three counts of assault; one count of assaulting, resisting or obstructing a police officer; and four counts of malicious destruction of personal property. He pleaded no contest to the obstruction charge and to one count each of assault and property destruction, though it was not clear whether those charges were tied to aggressions against a particular journalist. The remaining charges were dismissed.

August 2, 2018

On Aug. 2, 2018, photojournalist Mike Krotche and reporter Nia Harden of Detroit TV station WXYZ were attacked by a man wielding a metal baton. Neither Harden nor Krotche were injured in the attack.

Harden and Krotche were filming a live shot about a fatal car crash on Detroit's West Side when the man first approached them.

"While we were doing our live shot, towards the end of it, a man with a beer bottle and a baton-looking type of piece came over here, started interrupting us," Harden later said in a Facebook Live video about the incident. "I didn't think anything of it because he was kind of walking away after that."

When the live shot finished, Harden and Krotche returned to their WXYZ news truck. As Harden sat in the passenger seat of the truck, Krotche stood outside and waited for the truck's "mast" — the communications array on top of the news truck — to be lowered.

"When the mast is up, it's unsafe, you can't just drive away," Harden explained to her Facebook Live viewers. "You have to wait for the mast to go down. So as he was waiting for the mast to go down, he [stayed] outside of the truck, to make sure nobody was going to touch it or touch the vehicle, because it can be very dangerous."

While Krotche waited outside the truck, the man with the metal baton started to smash a nearby car, which WWJ radio reporter Mike Campbell was sitting in. Then he turned his attention to the WXYZ truck.

"He turns around very quickly, very quickly, and he runs — he looks at me, dead in the eyes — he looks at me, and he runs over to the car, runs over to the live truck, and he does this right here," she said in the Facebook Live video, showing cracks in the truck's windshield. "He starts hitting the front windshield where I'm sitting."

Krotche quickly jumped into the back of the news truck as the man smashed the WXYZ news truck's windshield and driver-side mirror.

Police later arrested the man.

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