Two reporters forced out of restaurant, equipment attacked

May 21, 2019

Two members of an Atlanta, Georgia-based news crew were forced out of a restaurant and had their camera equipment repeatedly attacked while reporting a story on May 1, 2019.

CBS46 photographer Dimitri Lotovski and reporter Adam Murphy were in a Denny’s in Lithonia asking employees about the restaurant’s failing inspection score when, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one employee became aggressive.

In raw video footage of the incident posted by CBS46, a Denny’s employee can be heard yelling at the reporters to get the camera “out of my face,” screaming profanities, and threatening to call the police.

Two employees shoved the camera, which was held by Lotovski, and then aggressively forced both reporters out of the restaurant.

Another employee can be seen repeatedly slapping the camera. Soon after, officers with the DeKalb County Police arrived at the scene and confirmed that the reporters had the right to be on the premises and ask the restaurant employees questions.

CBS46 published the statement it received from Denny’s corporate office:

“We are disappointed by the inappropriate and unacceptable behavior by employees at our restaurant in Lithonia, Georgia earlier this week. As a family dining restaurant, Denny’s expects the highest ethical and personal behavior from our team members, and we do not tolerate this type of behavior. We have spoken to the franchisee at this location and he has taken immediate action to ensure the restaurant meets our high brand standards and has taken appropriate action with employees.”

Murphy told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that in years of covering restaurant inspection stories, this incident was the most aggressive altercation he had experienced.

“We’ve had a hand in the camera before,” he told the Journal-Constitution, “but not numerous punches like that. It was the most violent encounter I’ve ever experienced.”

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

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