OHIO — A student photojournalist wasbriefly detained by university police last week while covering the escape of twocows on Ohio State University’s campus.
On April 21, two cows from the agriculture school got loose and universitypolice were working with people from the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine totry and manage the “agitated, angry, nervous and certainlydangerous” animals, said Chief of Ohio State University Police Paul Denton.Alex Kotran was covering the bovine blunder for OSU’s TheLantern when a university employee approached him and asked him to leavethe scene.
“I was being pretty adamant about the fact that ‘I’mpress and I really don’t have to explain anything to you beyond the factthat I’m press. So get a police officer,’ ” Kotran said.
Kotran was then approached by an Ohio State University police officer, whoasked him to leave because the situation was dangerous, he said. Afterrelocating, Kotran said he was then approached a second time by police and askedto leave his second location. He said that although he “compliedimmediately,” he was then handcuffed and told he was under arrest.
Lantern faculty adviser Tom O’Hara said university policeinsist that Kotran was not arrested.
“They’re very adamant that he wasn’t arrested. But theyput handcuffs on him and detained him and dug in his pockets and took out hiswallet and wrote up a report and … the incident report says ‘charge:criminal trespass.’ Just to be clear, they’re still investigatingand he was not arrested,” O’Hara said.
Kotran was detained, Denton said, but whether or not it was considered anarrest is just “semantics.” He said no criminal charges had beenfiled yet against Kotran, who he said presented no press credentials during theincident.
Lantern Editor-in-Chief Collin Binkley said the paper will continueto support Kotran as the situation unfolds, and maintained that he was not inthe wrong.
“Basically, the police are saying that Alex was endangering himself.And if they’re going to say that, whether that’s true or not,that’s up to them to decide. We can’t argue that, but from what wecan tell he was standing at a safe distance from the cows. Obviously, once anofficer gives a direct order you have to follow it,” Binkley said.
Both Binkley and Denton said there has been a good working relationshipbetween the Lantern and the OSU police department this year.
Denton said other journalists were on the scene and thatKotran’s actions had set him apart from the rest, which led to hisdetention. He could not specifically comment on what the behaviors were, as theyare under investigation to determine potential charges.
Kotran said he has received no notice of charges filed since the incident,and was given no indication of when he may find out if he is being charged andif so, with what. He said he would be trying to secure legal counsel. Dentonsaid the investigation could take several weeks.