Police in West Virginia arrested a local journalist Tuesday during an interaction with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. The reporter claimed he was arrested merely for attempting to ask questions, but police said it was for repeatedly trying to push his way past Secret Service agents.
Price and Conway were in Charleston, West Virginia, for an event focused on the opioid epidemic, WSAZ-TV reported.
After the event, Public News Service reporter Dan Heyman followed Price and Conway into a hallway in the West Virginia State Capitol. Heyman reportedly held out his phone, which was recording, as he asked Price questions about the American Health Care Act, the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. The GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted just last week to pass the legislation; it has not yet been taken up by the Senate.
Heyman was taken into custody by West Virginia Capitol Police who apparently thought Heyman was causing too much of a disturbance. Officers arrested Heyman and took him to jail. Heyman said police gave him no warning before handcuffing him, according to The Hill.
Heyman, 54, was released after posting a $5,000 bond. He was charged with willful disruption of governmental processes, a misdemeanor that carries a possible sentence of up to six months in prison and a $100 fine, according to the Daily Caller.
According to the complaint, Heyman was “aggressively breaching the Secret Service agents to the point where the agents were forced to remove him a couple of times from the area walking up the hallway in the main building of the capitol," WSAZ-TV reported. The document said that Heyman was “yelling questions at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price."
Eric Tegethoff, who also works for Public News Service, tweeted about the incident Wednesday evening.
"My colleague Dan Heyman @PNS_WV was arrested today for trying to ask Tom Price questions about the Republican health-care bill," Tegethoff tweeted.
"Price is an architect and booster of AHCA, so it seems fair for a reporter to get answers on questions Americans are most concerned about," Tegethoff said.
My colleague Dan Heyman @PNS_WV was arrested today for trying to ask Tom Price questions about the Republican health-care bill. 1/3— Eric Tegethoff (@Eric Tegethoff)1494364554.0
Price is an architect and booster of AHCA, so it seems fair for a reporter to get answers on questions Americans are most concerned about2/3— Eric Tegethoff (@Eric Tegethoff)1494364925.0
Tegethoff then tweeted a clip of officers escorting Heyman through a pair of double doors marked "Capitol Police."
A video of the arrest, shot by Valerie Woody with the West Virginia Citizens Action Group. 3/3 pic.twitter.com/Q1bOSotNEe
— Eric Tegethoff (@EricTegethoff) May 9, 2017
Heyman held a news conference Wednesday night. During the public appearance, Heyman spoke out about his arrest.
“First time I’ve ever been arrested for asking a question. First time I’ve ever heard of someone getting arrested for asking a question. It’s dreadful. This is my job. This is what I’m supposed to do," Heyman said during the news conference.
Lawrence Messina, director of communications for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which has oversight of the West Virginia Capitol Police, said officers didn't arrest Heyman for asking questions. Messina said Heyman "repeatedly tried to push his way past Secret Service agents."
"There were other reporters present who asked questions without incident," Messina said.