JEFFERSON-Ashe County Sheriff Terry Buchanan said this week he won’t discuss possible disciplinary actions – and failed to disclose departmental training protocols – after an ACSO officer attempted to prevent a Jefferson Post staffer from filming Buchanan speaking to a woman following a tense meeting Monday night.
Following the meeting Buchanan and ACSO Chief Deputy Rick Clayton spoke with members of the public critical of their administration.
At one point, ACSO Deputy Colin Maultsby covered and shoved the camera of Jefferson Post Editor Adam Orr as Orr attempted to film an interaction between Creston’s Rose Price and Sheriff Terry Buchanan.
Video of the exchange is available on the Jefferson Post’s Facebook page as well as the online version of this article.
“Dude that’s crazy man,” Maultsby said after swiping the camera.
“Hey, hey,” Orr said. “Please don’t do that.”
“That’s wrong,” Maultsby said. “That’s wrong.”
A woman in the video then uses a vulgar term in reference to Buchanan.
“Take that now,” Maultsby said. “You heard what she said.”
Buchanan was asked the following day what disciplinary actions would be taken regarding Maultsby and how his officers are trained to handle citizens filming in public places.
“I had just walked out into the lobby to leave as the commissioners closed the meeting and as I entered the lobby I noticed a dozen or so citizens talking loudly and escalating their agendas in the courthouse,” Buchanan wrote. “1st Sgt Maultsby’s is a retired Highway Patrolman and has worked assignments as a Trooper guarding the NC Governor which is why he is in charge of maintaining order and security in the courthouse.”
Buchanan said Maultsby’s priority was to empty the courthouse immediately following the adjournment of Monday’s special meeting.
“Maultsby did not know who you were nor did you identify yourself as press by sitting up front with the other reporters,” Buchanan said. “I have discussed your concerns with 1st Maultsby and as you know I cannot discuss personnel actions. In the future I would recommend that you wear your press credentials when attending commissioners meetings.”
Working journalists, however, have no special privileges that members of the general public lack.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, “the public has the right to take pictures of anything in plain view in a public space including federal buildings, transportation facilities and the police as long as you are not interfering with law enforcement.”
The organization said police officers may not confiscate or demand to view “your digital photographs or video without a warrant and they cannot delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.”
Journalists are also not required to bring or produce any kind of “press credential,” prior to filming in public spaces. Credentials can be required by venues or personnel where space may limit the general public’s access to an area or event, but are not required to film in the Ashe County Courthouse.
Maultsby did not confront other media members who were also filming the exchange between Buchanan and Price – one local journalist stood just feet from the pair as they spoke – or other citizens who were closer to the exchange than Orr. Buchanan also offered no justification or rationale for the reason Maultsby tried to physically prevent Orr from filming.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.