New Haven police defend arrest of reporter at crime scene

New Haven police defend arrest of reporter at crime scene


NEW HAVEN — A reporter for a local news website is facing criminal charges after police arrested him earlier this month while trying to photograph an investigation into possible explosive devices outside a library.

New Haven police spokesman officer David P. Hartman said David Sepulveda, 62, of the New Haven Independent, crossed into a secured area to photograph police as they inspected suspicious pressure cookers found outside the Westville Library on Whalley Avenue.

Sepulveda was charged with interfering with police and third-degree criminal trespassing following the Dec. 6 incident and was released on a promise to appear in New Haven Superior Court on Monday.

The New Haven Independent reported about the arrest Friday on its own website.

Arrests of reporters are rare, but Hartman said Sepulveda’s actions “put officers lives at risk” as they attempted to get him out of the secured area.

Police closed off streets in the area of the pressure cookers while a bomb squad investigated — similar devices were turned into the homemade bombs used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Hartman also said police were on heightened alert after a Dec. 5 fire at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven. Officials only announced this past Thursday that the fire was caused accidentally.

Paul Bass, editor of the New Haven Independent, said he understands the officer’s concerns, but believes police could have resolved the issue without arresting Sepulveda. A video of Bass interviewing the arresting officer is on the New Haven Independent web site.

Police said Sepulveda ignored commands to leave and crouched down, a move they considered suspicious. When Bass asked if police could have escorted Sepulveda away, the arresting officer said; “It doesn’t work like that.”

Bass and Sepulveda said there was no police tape, barricades, or anything else blocking access to the area.

Hartman said police had nearby intersections blocked, though, and accused Sepulveda of crossing through a library courtyard just to avoid them. When asked during an interview Friday how Sepulveda would know he entered a crime scene without police tape, Hartman said “he knew” before ending the interview.

Bass and Sepulveda also accused New Haven police of attempting to seize the camera and asking for Sepulveda to turn over his memory card. Hartman denied the claim, saying police only asked to review photographs to look for possible evidence.
Twitter: @reporter_savino


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