‘I wanted to show everybody that I didn’t do anything wrong’ Bilgin Sasmaz says.
WASHINGTON (AA) – An Anadolu Agency journalist arrested during violent clashes in Ferguson, Missouri has been cleared of wrongdoing by a St. Louis court.
At the time of his arrest, Bilgin Sasmaz was photographing the arrest of a protester who one of dozens who amassed on West Florissant Avenue.
The street was a flashpoint for protests after the police-shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old black man Michael Brown in August 2014.
Photos of Sasmaz's arrest show him being forced to the ground by five police officers, one of whom is pointing a pepper spray canister at his head.
The arrest “was based on false information”, the St. Louis court found nearly two years after the incident, ordering that Sasmaz’s arrest records be expunged.
“I wanted to show everybody that I didn’t do anything wrong,” Sasmaz said. “I am satisfied by the court’s decision.”
Sasmaz said he will not seek further legal action but hopes the situation is never repeated “for anybody.”
Tony Rothert, Sasmaz’s lawyer, says that “a pretty high standard” was met during the case, allowing for Sasmaz’s arrest record to be cleared.
Sasmaz was one of nearly 20 journalists who were detained during what has been widely criticized as an excessively heavy-handed police crackdown on protesters following a number of police shootings resulted with death.
From August through November 2014, 24 journalists were arrested, according to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.