Press photographer arrested at protest over chokehold death

NEW YORK (AP) — A working photojournalist was among about a dozen people arrested at a protest over last week’s chokehold death of New York City subway rider Jordan Neely.

Stephanie Keith was arrested Monday at the protest outside a Manhattan subway station and charged with disorderly conduct.

Video posted on Twitter shows Chief of Patrol John Chell, one of the highest-ranking members of the NYPD, shouting “Lock her up” as he hands Keith over to two community affairs officers to be handcuffed.

Asked about Keith’s arrest at a news conference late Monday, Chell said that “the reporter interfered in at least two arrests in the middle of the street” and later interfered a third time.

Videos that have been posted on social media appear to show Keith stepping out into the street to get a good shot of something, not interfering with arrests.

Keith said in a text that she could not discuss the arrest itself while charges are pending.

Keith is a freelance photographer whose clients include Getty Images and The New York Times. The New York Press Photographers Association called her “an intrepid photojournalist” and said in a statement, “We support our colleague and believe that a review of the evidence and circumstances will compel the Manhattan D.A. to drop any charges against her.”

Police officials said at the news conference that about 150 people attended Monday’s protest and there were 11 arrests, mainly for disorderly conduct.

Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said that a Molotov cocktail was found on the ground among the protesters.

“This is something that’s dangerous,” Maddrey said. “It could hurt members of the department. It could hurt other protesters. It could hurt innocent people who are passing by.”

A photograph displayed by officers shows a glass mineral water bottle with a rag inside. It was not clear Tuesday whether a flammable substance was found in the bottle. A police spokesperson did not answer a question about the results of any tests.

The demonstrators were protesting the May 1 death of Neely, a sometime Michael Jackson impersonator with a history of mental health problems, who was placed in a chokehold by U.S. Marine veteran Daniel Penny.

Penny said through his lawyers on Friday that he acted to protect himself after Neely behaved in a treatening manner on the subway train.

No criminal charges have been filed over the fatal encounter. The district attorney’s office is investigating.

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