Cops Stop Photo Ops


Did some of New York’s Finest get too rough at the anti-war rally? These exclusive
photos, shot sequentially in a span of 11 seconds by photographer Rob Bennett, show New York Daily News photographer Susan Watts getting knocked down at the intersection of 53rd Street and Third Avenue on February 15, 2003. The News complained about the incident to the NYPD, which is conducting an Internal Affairs investigation. Cynthia Cotts reports on how the cops harassed photographers in this week’s Press Clips.

In between buses headed uptown on Third Avenue, photographers take shots of police officers handcuffing protesters on the street. The next frame was taken moments later.

Two unidentified officers charge Watts, who is seen falling, center right. New York Post photographer Matthew McDermott is visible
with camera and facial hair, center. Daily News photographer Michael Appleton appears with back to camera, right.

This photo first appeared in the News on February 16. A uniformed officer extends an arm toward Watts as she falls, in what some sources later dubbed an attempt to help her. A camera worth thousands of dollars was ruined.

Watts hits the road in the path of an oncoming bus. Visible from left to right are a member of the NYPD’s DCPI, or public information office; an officer in riot gear; McDermott; the uniformed officer; and Appleton. Also visible on the right are several photographers who witnessed the event, including, top right, Frank Fournier, who wears a brown leather jacket and knit hat. The DCPI officer’s face is clearly recognizable.

As Watts begins to gather herself, the uniformed officer turns his back, while the DCPI officer, left, and the officer in riot gear approach the fallen photographer. According to McDermott, protesters reported that one of the two officers who charged Watts was whisked away to the north. Visible on the far left is an officer who is videotaping the event.

Watts yells as officers and Appleton help her to her feet. The uniformed officer appears second from left, walking away from the scene.

Here, the face of the officer in riot gear is clearly recognizable.

Watts is now on her feet, and she looks pissed.

Watts is now on her feet, and she still looks pissed.

As Watts faces the DCPI officer, center, he looks southeast on Third Avenue, directly at the officer with the video camera. The officer with the camera wore a jacket labelled TARU, a/k/a the NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit, which performs surveillance and other technical support.

Return to the main story.