Although Mark Saltz was standing outside the yellow crime tape area, he was arrested for interfering with an investigation Saturday afternoon.
Saltz, a photojournalist for The Baton Rouge Advocate, was standing outside the crime scene tape waiting for the coroner to cover the body of a murder victim so he could take a photo.
Baton Rouge police officer Derek Evans then approached Saltz, ordering him to leave that area. Saltz responded by saying he had the right to be there. He asked to speak to Evan’s supervisor.
Evans replied that he was the “acting supervisor” on scene.
When Saltz pulled out his cell phone to call the police department, Evans handcuffed him and confiscated the cell phone.
Lt. Charles Armstrong, a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department, told The Advocate that “restricted areas at crime scenes are either blocked by crime scene tape, natural barricades or officers’ instructions.”
“If someone enters that area, they are subject to arrest,” Armstrong said.
Any reporter who has covered the crime beat knows that Armstrong is wrong. If police don’t want reporters standing just outside the crime scene ribbon, all they have to do is expand the crime scene area by moving the yellow ribbon.
The reason for the yellow crime scene tape is to provide a barrier where non-police officers are not supposed to cross. Anything outside that area is considered accessible to the public. And any “officers’ instructions” to leave that area is an unlawful order.