A bodyguard for CNN analyst April Ryan has been charged with assault after he allegedly grabbed a reporter's camera and forced him out of an event in New Brunswick.
Charlie Kratovil, editor of independent news outlet New Brunswick Today, reported on Twitter that the 30-year-old Joel Morris stole his camera as he tried to record Ryan's speech at an August 3 event. When Kratovil tried to retrieve his property, Morris twisted his arm behind his back in the lobby of the hotel where the event was taking place.
A subsequent video posted on Twitter confirmed that Morris had grabbed Kratovil in the hotel lobby.
Here is the surveillance video from the hotel, provided to me by Charlie. It shows @AprilDRyan's bodyguard trying to snatch his camera and assaulting the local reporter. The video ends with the bodyguard dragging him out of the building. pic.twitter.com/rnAM0iVNEc
— Marcus J. DiPaola (@marcusdipaola) August 14, 2019
Kratovil stated on Twitter that before arriving, he had received permission from the public relations firm running the event to cover it.
"Unlike many stories I do, I wasn't digging deep or trying to put anyone on the spot," he wrote. "Just thought it was cool that a well-known journo was speaking in my city & something our audience might appreciate."
Before the event, Kratovil spoke with other attendees, including Rep. Donald Payne (D., N.J.), whom he congratulated on supporting impeachment for President Donald Trump. But during the event, Morris asked Kratovil to take down his camera. Kratovil refused. When Ryan took the stage to speak, Morris whispered in her ear that she was being recorded. Ryan then refused to speak until Kratovil turned off his camera.
"What I will say, when I speak, I don't have news covering my speeches," Ryan told the crowd as Morris left the stage to remove Kratovil's camera.
"Don't touch my camera," Kratovil said. "Don't you dare. Put that down, sir. That's my camera."
Kratovil chased Morris out of the room and was able to recover his property, but not without an altercation. Kratovil later accused Morris of harassment, assault, and theft. In an interview with NJ.com, Kratovil said he does not understand why his camera was taken down when other local news outlets were allowed to keep their cameras. He also noted that Ryan has not commented on the incident.
"Her silence is deafening at this point. It's been more than two weeks," Kratovil told NJ.com. "Anybody who's a journalist should be condemning this."
Ryan has been a vocal proponent of press freedom, saying last year that she hired a bodyguard after receiving death threats. She also stated in June on CNN that she has to fight for her "survival" as a reporter asking questions in the White House.