Stunning photos showing St. Charles County SWAT Team members “disassembling” an Al Jazeera America news crew’s camera equipment during unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, went viral on Wednesday night — but police say the circulating images and reports are very misleading.
In a statement on Thursday, the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department said SWAT Team officers were actually “assisting the media in moving their camera equipment and media personnel to a safer area with their consent so that they could continue to cover the event.” The news crew was caught in tear gas and had to leave their position.
The officers reportedly located the journalists and put them into an armored car and proceeded to disassemble and load their equipment. However, people snapped photos and seemingly drew their own conclusions.
According to KTVI-TV, the Al Jazeera reporters even “thanked the officers.”
“On Wednesday, August 13th, video footage was taken of St. Charles County SWAT officers handling media camera equipment,” the statement reads. “The position of the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department is that the media has the right to cover these events and supports the freedom of the press, and the SWAT Team has not been any part of attempting to prevent media coverage.”
Watch the raw video below: