PENNSYLVANIA — A photographer at Pennsylvania StateUniversity’s Daily Collegian was cleared of his remaining failureto disperse charge July 22 in a pre-trial motion after he was arrested last fallwhile covering a post-football-game riot.
“The Court does not believe that Defendant refused to or knowinglyfailed to obey dispersal orders,” stated President Judge David E. Grine inhis order to grant Michael Felletter’s dismissal. “The Court believes thatthe arrest of Defendant was made in good faith by an officer who believed thathe was doing what was necessary to keep the peace.”
In October 2008, Felletter was charged with several misdemeanorsafter he covered a riot on campus, during which police accused him of incitingthe crowd by taking pictures of the participants. On March 4, a judge threw outFelletter’s disorderly conduct charge and four of his five failure to dispersecharges.
“The testimony by Officer Argiro and Officer Pieniezek made it clearthat rioters were becoming more disorderly around Defendant’scamera,” Grine stated. “That, however, is not Defendant’sfault, and is the responsibility of those who were at the riot and actuallyacting disorderly.”
During the riot, police asked Felletter to leave, at which point heidentified himself as a journalist. Police still asked him to leave severaltimes throughout the evening, threatened him with pepper spray, and eventuallytook his license and informed him he was under arrest.
Felletter’s attorney, Andrew Shubin, said he is extremely pleasedwith the results of the case but that because the charge was dismissed without ajury, Felletter could be re-arrested or the case could be appealed — bothof which he says Centre County District Attorney Michael T. Madeira hasthreatened to do in the press.
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