Court documents show that Leon Felipe Gonzalez Cortes, a reporter for Univision Arizona, was covering the death of a Chandler police officer in Gilbert on April 30. He was on the wrong side of the police line at the time. The court paperwork claims that two officers knew Cortes was reporting and that he was clearly identifiable as a journalist. It also alleges one of the officers “derisively used the word ‘compadre,’” in reference to his Latino heritage.
The Arizona Broadcasters Association released a statement saying, “The Arizona Broadcasters Association adamantly supports the critical role played by reporters in covering the news and keeping our communities informed. We are concerned by the allegations against the Univision crew, support the rights of our local press, and call upon the leadership at Gilbert police to closely review the incident.”
In a statement sent Friday morning, the town attorney’s office said that Cortes “intentionally walked inside a clearly-marked crime scene.” They also said that the reporter “by his own admission, captured digital photographs and/or video footage from inside the scene.”
Joe Donnarumma, the president and general manager of Univision Arizona, sent a statement to Arizona’s Family calling the seizure baseless and made on “unreasonable grounds.” He added, “the police department’s violation of his constitutional rights diminishes the rights of us all.”
GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A Phoenix journalist has filed a motion alleging that the Gilbert Police Department unlawfully seized his cellphone while he was reporting in the field.
The complaint states that Cortes was charged with criminal trespass and interference with a police officer and was taken into police custody. At the time of the arrest, another officer seized Cortes’ cellphone, which has not been returned.
The department told Arizona’s Family that they are “confident that when the actual facts come to light, the Gilbert Police Department will be exonerated from the allegations levied by the attorneys for Mr. González Cortés.”
The Town of Gilbert is confident that when the actual facts come to light, the Gilbert Police Department will be exonerated from the allegations levied by the attorneys for Mr. González Cortés.
Editor’s note: In an earlier version, we incorrectly wrote that the court paperwork was a lawsuit. It’s a motion filed in the criminal case.