A 60-year-old photojournalist with more than 20 years of professional experience was assaulted by deputies after they accused him of impersonating a firefighter because he was wearing protective gear while covering a wildfire.

Tim Dunn, photo director of the Reno Gazette-Journal, was wearing yellow protective fire gear, a helmet and goggles, which is standard gear for all photojournalists covering wildfires.

But a pair of Washoe County sheriff’s deputies were oblivious to this fact, which is why they slammed him down to the ground, planted a foot on his back and pushed his face against the gravel as they handcuffed him.

They ended up citing him on obstruction and resisting charges before releasing him.

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Dunn said he was told to leave the area, and directed to another location farther away from the scene. He said he was ultimately taken to the ground by two deputies — one who shoved his foot on his back, and the other who pushed his face in the gravel. His cheek has a large scrape on it.

Dunn said the deputies accused him of trying to impersonate a firefighter because he was wearing yellow, protective fire gear, a helmet, and goggles. Annual media training recommends wearing these clothes while covering wildfires.

“I kept thinking this was not really happening,” Dunn said.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Deputy Armando Avina said the deputies used their discretion and did not arrest Dunn. He said because reports in the case have not been completed, he could not comment on the incident.

Now the Reno Gazette-Journal is preparing a complaint against the sheriff’s department as well as encouraging Dunn to file a civil suit.

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