Reporter says he was violently arrested for trying to ask questions

Liberal blogger Mike Stark says he was just trying to put his phone away when police officers pulled his feet out from under him.

FALLS CHURCH, VA (WUSA9) - WUSA9's Bruce Leshan went one on one with the reporter thrown to the ground and arrested in Annandale, Va. while trying to question a candidate for Virginia governor.
  
Liberal blogger Mike Stark said he was just trying to put his phone away when police officers pulled his feet out from under him.

The Fairfax County police chief said his officers acted lawfully when they grabbed the reporter and threw him to the ground.

There’s video, and when it starts, Mike Stark is standing on the sidewalk, being told to back away from Republican candidate Ed Gillespie's campaign bus, which you can see in the background. The Annandale parade was just about to start.

“A policeman walked up to me and told me pretty forcefully to get out of the road and to leave that bus and everyone on that bus alone,” Stark said.

Stark is banged up, but OK. Police have charged him with disorderly conduct and avoiding arrest.

He said he told the officer he had a right to try and ask Gillespie questions, and he admits both he and the officer were pretty heated about that.

“One policeman said, 'If you cuss one more time, I'm going to have you arrested.’ I did cuss again, and I was arrested. It was an unlawful arrest. Cussing is not something you can be arrested for," he said. 

Police say Stark was initially compliant, but then pulled his hand away. He says he was just trying to put his phone in his pocket, but the police chief said officers had no idea what he might be reaching for.

“He does not know if this gentleman has a concealed weapon. He does not know what intent this gentleman has,” said Chief Ed Roessler Jr.

This is not the first time Stark has been manhandled while trying to question a Republican candidate. Aides to then Senatorial candidate George Allen wrestled him to the ground back in 2006. That was also caught on video.

But Stark said neither incident will stop him.

“You can't stop being a reporter because it's hard," he said. 

The Gillespie campaign declined to say anything about the arrest. But Stark is convinced a campaign worker asked the police to intervene. He said he'll be back trying to ask Gillespie questions again Wednesday night, despite his bruises. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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