Journalists Bilgin Şaşmaz and Trey Yingst, who were both arrested for recording police during two separate protests in Ferguson, will not be charged and St. Louis County will aid their efforts to have information about their arrests removed from their records. The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed lawsuits on their behalf and announced today that both cases have settled.
On the evening of Aug. 19, Şaşmaz had been photographing Ray Albers, a former St. Ann police office, who was pointing his weapon at protesters and yelling that he was going to kill them. A St. Louis County Police officer threw Şaşmaz violently to the pavement, handcuffed and arrested him, even though Şaşmaz repeatedly identified himself as a member of the media. Şaşmaz, of Middle Eastern descent, was working alongside many Caucasian reporters and photographers, who were not arrested but documented the interaction. The ACLU of Missouri filed a civil rights lawsuit last November.
Today, the Circuit Court of Cole County agreed that the Missouri Department of Corrections broke the law by failing to honor a Sunshine Law request to disclose the name of the pharmacy that supplied the drugs it uses to administer the death penalty.
On May 15, 2014, the ACLU of Missouri, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Chris McDaniel, a reporter, filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Corrections for violating the Sunshine Law by withholding public information regarding the state’s recent executions, including the name of the pharmacy that supplied its lethal injection drugs. The court ruled that the Missouri law, which requires individual execution team members’ identities be kept confidential, does not permit the Department of Corrections to “define the execution team as it wishes, without limitation.”