Gladewater police officer Bryan Todd Naismith was unhappy that a Dallas Morning News reporter planned to do a story about a suspect shot by Naismith under questionable circumstances where the officer was never charged. Reported AP today:
Naismith must now permanently surrender his law enforcement license, take anger management classes and pay a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to unlawful restraint Friday in Upshur County.So a reporter doing an investigative story comes to the officer's home. The officer points a shotgun at him, unlawfully detained the reporter, and hollered at him threateningly for some unspecified period of time - presumably with the intent of intimidating the reporter not to write the story.
In March 2006, reporter David Michaels pursued a story about Naismith never being charged in the 2005 shooting of a suspect. When Michaels showed up at Naismith's home for a second time, Naismith allegedly pointed a shotgun through the reporter's car window and ordered him out.
Michaels was later let go after Naismith yelled at him, police said.
Naismith was fired from Gladewater police three months after confronting Michaels. As part of his plea deal, he was also given a one-year probated jail sentence and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.
Still, it took the Gladewater PD three months afterward to fire the officer, and his criminal sentence amounts to a slap on the wrist - 80 hours community service, a $1,000 fine, and one year probation is one of the lowest sentences I've seen for any gun crime in many a moon.
Several questions arise from this case and its outcome: What kind of jerk cop pulls a gun on a reporter? Don't they train these clowns? (That's an inexcusable response to the media asking questions about a legitimately controversial subject.) And once they knew about the incident, why did the Gladewater PD wait three months to terminate him? Why did prosecutors and the judge accept such a lenient plea deal? Finally, why was the Dallas Morning News investigating this story instead of the Tyler Morning Telegraph?Tack this incident on to the growing list of East Texas police officers arrested or indicted in the last couple of years.
Intimidation of the press is a police tactic I might expect south of the border, where journalists routinely take real risks to report crime news, but it's a shame to see Texas cops behaving so disgracefully.