A New York City police officer was indicted Monday on charges he fabricated the reason for arresting a photographer on assignment for The New York Times last summer.
Officer Michael Ackerman pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of falsifying business records and tampering with public records. He was released without bail and his lawyer had no comment.
Chief New York Police Department spokesman John McCarthy said Ackerman, 30, has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case.
The Bronx District Attorney’s office said the officer claimed that freelance photographer Robert Stolarik interfered with an arrest in August 2012 by repeatedly snapping a bright flash in his face, temporarily blinding him.
Stolarik was on assignment for the Times, shooting images of a growing street fight in the Concourse neighborhood in the Bronx. He was arrested on charges of obstructing government administration and resisting arrest.
A probe by prosecutors and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau later revealed there was no flash attached to the camera, and it can’t discharge without the attachment. Also, the photographs taken the night of the arrest showed no flash was used and no other witnesses reported a flash.
The charges against Stolarik have been dismissed. He did not comment Monday. The Times did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.