The Wall Street Journal is urging Phoenix police to investigate after one of its Black reporters was handcuffed and detained while working on an assignment on the city’s north side.
Phoenix police officials told NBC News on Thursday that the department has agreed to a probe after Editor-in-Chief Matt Murray wrote a letter dated Dec. 7 to Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan “expressing concerns” regarding the incident. On Nov. 23, Dion Rabouin, who covers finance for the Wall Street Journal, was detained in a police car while conducting interviews outside a Chase Bank. An officer accused the reporter of trespassing and took him into custody.
“We’re deeply concerned that Wall Street Journal reporter Dion Rabouin was detained, handcuffed and placed in the back of a police vehicle while reporting,” a Journal spokesperson said in a statement. “No journalist should ever be detained simply for exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Rabouin was interviewing passersby for a story about savings accounts when a pair of employees walked up to him, asked what he was doing and went back inside, he told ABC affiliate KNXV. He said the employees did not ask him to leave. Soon, Police Officer Caleb Zimmerman approached and told Rabouin he was trespassing, he said.
“I saw a police car pull up. And the officer came out, walked into the branch, after about five minutes came out and talked to me,” Rabouin recalled to KNXV, adding that he told the officer he did not know that the sidewalk was private property. “He asked me what I was doing. I identified myself. I said, ‘I’m Dion Rabouin. I’m a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. I’m working on a story. I told the people in the branch what was going on.’ And he said, ‘Well you can’t do that.’”
Rabouin told KNXV that Zimmerman wouldn’t look at his credentials and he told the officer he would leave, but Zimmerman blocked him when he tried to walk away.
“After we talked a little more, he said, ‘I’m done with this,’” Rabouin recalled. “And he started grabbing me. Grabbing at my arms. And I was kind of flustered and drew back. And he was like, ‘This could get bad for you if you don’t comply and don’t do what I say.’ So he grabs my arms and really wrenches them behind my back and proceeds to put me in handcuffs.”
Katelyn Parady, a bystander, said she saw the situation unfolding and began recording on her cellphone. Footage showed Rabouin speaking to the officer while detained in the patrol car with his hands behind his back.
A Phoenix Police Department spokesperson told NBC News that bank personnel called the police after customers complained Rabouin was approaching them and asking personal questions. Zimmerman wrote in a police report that Rabouin had refused to leave the property or show him identification.
Rabouin was ultimately let go.
A spokesperson for Chase Bank said that officials have apologized to Rabouin directly, but would not comment on the employees’ actions.