WBRZ-TV reporter Chris Nakamoto was handcuffed and detained Wednesday and issued a misdemeanor summons after he was accused of harassing the town clerk and refusing to leave town hall when asked by local police.
But the reporter’s boss defended his actions and said Nakamoto was just doing his job by trying to hold public officials accountable.
The town’s clerk, Monica Hamilton, summoned White Castle police officers to Town Hall Wednesday morning, telling police Nakamoto was causing a disturbance, according to Town Attorney Valencia Vessel-Landry.
The incident took place in the lobby after Hamilton refused to be interviewed by Nakamoto on camera for a story the reporter was working on concerning the mayor’s pay and recent public records requests he filed, Vessel-Landry said.
“She told him she didn’t want to be on camera and she asked him to stop filming,” Vessel-Landry said. “He said ‘no’ so she ran to the back and he attempted to come into a restricted area to get to her. That’s when she called the police.”
Nakamoto was removed and issued a summons for allegedly “remaining after being forbidden” after police arrived on the scene and he refused their requests to leave, Vessel-Landry said.
Vessel-Landry said the officers detained Nakamoto because he was causing a scene, trying to get into a restricted area in Town Hall and impeding the employees from doing their work.
However, WBRZ News Director Lee Polowczuk Wednesday afternoon offered up a different account regarding what happened.
“It was simple: Chris put in a records request Monday with three different elements,” Polowczuk said. “He received two of three elements yesterday and was just going over there to inquire about the third element.”