No charges will be filed against a journalist arrested last month during a confrontation with Sausalito police at a homeless encampment, Marin County District Attorney Lori Frugoli announced on Tuesday.
Sausalito officers arrested Jeremy Portje on Nov. 30 on suspicion of battery on an officer and resisting arrest. During a scuffle with Portje, an officer suffered a laceration and bruise to his face, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said they were unable to gather enough evidence showing Portje intended to injure the officer.
In response to Frugoli's announcement, First Amendment Coalition Executive Director David Snyder said, “We are very glad to hear that Mr. Portje is not being charged. He should not have been arrested in the first place.”
“The fact remains that police obtained a warrant for a journalist's devices, contrary to clear California law and, as far as I know now still have Mr. Portje's camera, storage devices and iPhones, Snyder said. “It was a violation of Mr. Portje's constitutional rights that police ever obtained these materials and they should have been returned to him weeks ago.”
“While we take all allegations of assault on a police officer seriously, in this case a team of veteran prosecutors who reviewed the case found that the evidence did not show beyond a reasonable doubt that Portje intended to injure the officer,” Frugoli said in a statement. “Beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard of proof required by ethical and legal standards for prosecutors to move forward with a case. It is a higher standard than probable cause, which is the standard required by law enforcement to make an arrest.”
As part of the investigation Portje's video camera and cell phone were seized. Although prosecutors obtained search warrants to examine the phone and video footage, prosecutors said they will not review them.
The First Amendment Coalition earlier this month accused the district attorney's office of violating Portje's constitutional rights by obtaining a search warrant for a journalist's devices.
Under California's Shield Law, law enforcement is prohibited from forcing journalists to hand over unpublished material or reveal confidential sources.