Police in Phoenix have launched an internal investigation into an incident during which officers briefly detained a reporter working for The Wall Street Journal.
The reporter, Dion Rabouin, was reporting for a story outside a Chase bank in Phoenix on Nov. 23 when he was approached by officers. Police told Rabouin that he was trespassing, at which point he offered to leave, Journal executive editor Matt Murray wrote in a letter to the Phoenix Police Department.
Video taken by a bystander and posted to social media shows police handcuffing Rabouin and putting him in the back of a police car. Rabouin repeatedly tells the officer he is happy to leave the scene.
Eventually, after more officers arrive on scene, Rabouin was taken out of handcuffs and released.
In a letter blasting Phoenix police and provided to The Hill, Murray said he was “appalled and concerned” that officers “would attempt to interfere with Mr. Rabouin’s constitutional right to engage in journalism and purport to limit anyone’s presence in a public location.”
“Such conduct is offensive to civil liberties, and also a pretty good news story,” Murray wrote in his letter. “The Journal and Mr. Rabouin are still determining what further action to take in response to his detention by your officers.”
The incident has gained widespread attention in recent days after local television station ABC15 reported on it.
In a statement to the station this week, the department said Murray’s letter was shared for review with its Professional Standard Bureau, which is conducting an administrative investigation.
“Bank personnel contacted police after they received customer complaints that a man was approaching people as they entered the bank asking them personal questions,” the statement said. “The interaction between the officer and the man who was the subject of the complaint took place on private property.”