LA County Awards LAist Reporter $700,000 Settlement Over 2020 Arrest Incident

Officers in the county’s department will be required to undergo re-training on journalists’ rights

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L.A. County has awarded former LAist 89.3 radio reporter Josie Huang, who was arrested and injured by sheriff’s deputies while covering a 2020 protest in Lynwood, California, $700,000 for the incident. The platform is an affiliate of NPR.

“This settlement upholds the rights of journalists and helps ensure that what happened to me won’t happen to other reporters,” Huang said in a statement that the LAist posted in a story covering the settlement on Tuesday. “My arrest was traumatic, but I hope that some good can still come of this experience.”

On Sept. 12, 2020, Huang was arrested after she left a press conference for then-Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva held in Lynwood. When she was returning to her car, she saw deputies responding to a protest and started to record. A series of demonstrations took place following the police murder of George Floyd in March 2020.

Huang claimed in a legal complaint that she was detained without legal justification, while officers stated Huang got in the way of them arresting a protester. After she was released, Huang posted to X (formerly known as Twitter) that she was “filming an arrest when suddenly deputies shout ‘back up.’ Within seconds, I was getting shoved around. There was nowhere to back up.” In her captured footage, Huang can be heard yelling “I’m a reporter” as she hits the ground.

The LASD agreed to the $700,000 settlement but didn’t admit to any wrongdoing.

“There was a thorough internal investigation into this incident and the appropriate administrative action was taken,” the department said in a statement, while “We understand the role of the media during newsworthy events and make every effort to accommodate them with a designated press area and appropriate access.”

As part of the settlement, LASD deputies will be required to undergo training or re-training on journalists’ rights prior to their patrolling tasks. Additionally, the LASD must provide a written notice to its staff members outlining the laws surrounding their interactions with the media.

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