(Christopher Robbins) An NYPD officer has been charged with falsifying documents relating to the beating and arrest of New York Times photographer Robert Stolarik on a shoot in the Bronx last August. According to a release, Officer Michael Ackermann of the 44th precinct claimed that Stolarik repeatedly discharged his camera's flash in Ackermann's face while he was trying to arrest a 15-year-old girl, "blinding him and preventing him from performing his duties." In fact, police later found that no flash was attached to Stolarik's camera, and none had been used that night.
At the time, the NYPD also accused Stolarik, a photographer for the Times for more than ten years, of striking an officer in the face with his camera. Before his arrest, Stolarik says he was kicked in the back and head by several officers. His equipment and press credentials were confiscated, and he was charged with obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. Both those charges have been dropped, and Stolarik's credentials were eventually returned to him.
"As we've seen so many times in this narrative, very often the officer's version is a work of fiction," Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association tells us. "I think the officer in this case decided to get a little too creative with the flash business...Robert doesn't even own a flash."
Ackermann, 30, was formally indicted by a grand jury with two counts of falsifying business records, two counts of tampering with public records, offering a false instrument for filing in the first and second degrees, making a punishable false written statement, and official misconduct. Tampering with public records is a class D felony, punishable by a sentence of up to 7 years in jail.
Photo: Bombaert Patrick/Shutterstock