Fla. newspaper threatens to sue city over reporter’s arrest

Thursday, August 13, 2009

NAPLES, Fla. — The News-Press in Fort Myers has informed the city of Naples that it plans to sue because police officers handcuffed a reporter who was attempting to interview former NFL star Deion Sanders at a recent youth football game.

News-Press attorney Steve Carta said the newspaper sent a letter to Naples Mayor Bill Barnett, City Manager Bill Moss and Police Chief Tom Weschler on Aug. 7 informing them of an intent to sue.

The newspaper said sports reporter David Dorsey was prevented from joining other media to interview Sanders during a youth football game at a city park on Aug. 1. After several attempts to get onto the field, Dorsey was handcuffed and led away. He was later released without being charged.

The newspaper reported that Carta wrote: “The goal of my clients is to rectify the wrongs that were committed by falsely arresting the reporter and interfering with their right to gather the news.

“It is my clients' hope the matter can be satisfactorily resolved without the necessity of a lawsuit.”

Naples police say it is department policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Executive Editor Terry Eberle said in a News-Press report that “Dorsey was just doing his job.”

Eberle was quoted as saying, “It's outrageous that the Naples police officers thought they should take orders from a citizen and to treat another citizen in such a brutish manner.

“He had every right to be on the sidelines. That's his First Amendment right, not to mention it's a public park, paid for with taxpayer dollars.”

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