U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

TV reporter charged at by man with ax while covering eviction

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 26, 2017
Ben Hall (WTVF)


Was the journalist targeted?
April 26, 2017

Reporter Ben Hall of NewsChannel 5 was assaulted on April 26, 2017, while reporting on an individual living in a vacant home in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.

According to NewsChannel 5, Hall was investigating claims that the individual, Jude Pischke, had been living in an unoccupied house in a suburban Nashville neighborhood for more than two years despite not having any legal claims to the property. Hall confirmed to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that photojournalist Bob Stinnett was with him at the time of the incident.

Video of the incident shows Hall approaching Pischke and questioning him about the house. Pischke demands that the reporter and news crew leave, then retrieves an ax from the bed of a pickup truck and charges toward the reporter.

As Hall and Stinnett back away from Pischke, Hall can be heard saying, “We’re backing up. We’re leaving right now,” as Pischke swung the ax toward the news crew’s feet.

The Tennessean reported that as the news crew rushed to leave, Pischke got into his vehicle and drove aggressively toward them. Police officers issued an arrest warrant for Pischke, and he was detained during a traffic stop later that same day. Pischke was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and three counts of reckless endangerment for assaulting the news crew.

The Tracker filed a public records request for the incident report with the Mt. Juliet Police Department, which was unfulfilled as of publication.

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