EDITOR WEAVER ARRESTED FOR PHOTOGRAPHING ACCIDENT SCENE

(02/07/2006)

Bob Weaver, editor of the Hur Herald, was arrested last night after taking photos of a car accident on Pleasant Hill.

Weaver was arrested by Cpl. Doug Starcher of the WV State Police after he told Weaver to not take pictures.

Weaver complied to the officers request, took no further pictures and left for his vehicle.

Starcher then followed Weaver to his car, yelling for him to stop, then claiming he was verbally assaulted or threatened by Weaver.

Weaver was at his car when Starcher arrested him for obstructing an officer and assault of an officer.

He claims Weaver was taking photos of a partially exposed female, which was not the case.

Starcher claims Weaver said he was going to "stick something up the officers a--" and "he hated this officer."

Starcher advised his superior that Weaver is a "cop hater," indicating that something must be done.

Calhoun EMS advised Starcher that Weaver has an agreement with their agency to photograph emergency situations for training purposes.

Starcher had threatened to arrest Weaver at two other emergency situations, a car wreck and fire.

One incident was in the presence of members of the Arnoldsburg Fire Department, who said they were baffled by the officers behavior.

In that case, Weaver was getting in his vehicle to leave as Starcher was arriving on scene, but Starcher claimed he saw Weaver rifling through the wrecked vehicle, the accusation was not supported by members of the fire department.

That night the fire department made Weaver an honorary member.

While taking pictures of a house fire at Minnora, Starcher verbally placed Weaver under arrest for trespassing, which was not a justified complaint. Starcher decided not to press charges.

Weaver says there have been other incidents by State Police violating first amendment rights, contending that any person, not just a reporter, has the right to take plain-view photos.

In a previous incident Trooper Fred Hammack walked into a pasture field where Weaver was photographing an accident scene, demanding him to cease picture taking.

Weaver said "Readers of the Herald know that we use careful judgment with photos, and more often than not provide them to family members when problems occur."

"Media and TV take such photos every day, everywhere, but unfortunately in Calhoun, the rules are different," Weaver said.

"In last night's situation, the deceased were friends of mine, and like most everyone, I was upset over their tragic death," he said.

Weaver, if found guilty for assault, is facing a $50-$500 fine and/or up to one year in jail, while facing 24-hours to 6 months in jail and/or up to $200 in fines on the obstructing charge.


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