NYPD Cop Indicted for Filing False Report in Arrest of New York Times Photographer



A New York City cop who arrested a New York Times photographer last year to prevent him from photographing an arrest was charged with falsifying records Monday, a charge that could land him in prison for seven years.

Although we know he will never spend a a day in jail, it is refreshing that the Bronx District Attorney’s Office even brought the case before a grand jury in the first place.

After all, cops falsifying records is something that takes place on a daily basis throughout the country, which is why so many of them take issue with citizens recording them.

NYPD officer Michael Ackerman claimed that Robert Stolarik had repeatedly fired a flash in his face, which blinded him and I imagine, caused him to fear for his life.

But it turns out, there was no flash on Stolarik’s camera.

However, that didn’t stop another cop from shoving the camera in Stolarik’s face, which prompted the photographer to demand their names and badge numbers. That, of course, prompted six cops to pounce on him where one cop ended up with a cut hand, which lead to the claim that Stolarik had “violently resisted.”

Everything in this story is straight out of the police playbook we have seen so many times over the years, attacking the photographer, only to claim the photographer had attacked them, then claiming the camera was used as some kind of weapon.

The only difference is that one cop ended up facing criminal charges.

According to the New York Times:

A New York City police officer who had arrested a photographer working for The New York Times has been indicted on three felony counts and five misdemeanors accusing him of fabricating the reasons for the arrest, the Bronx district attorney announced on Monday.

The officer, Michael Ackermann, 30, claimed that the photographer interfered with an arrest last year of a teenage girl by repeatedly discharging his camera’s flash in Officer Ackermann’s face. But the officer’s account unraveled after the office of Robert T. Johnson, the Bronx district attorney, examined photographic evidence and determined that the photographer, Robert Stolarik, did not use a flash and did not have one on his camera at the time. Prosecutors added that no other officers or civilian witnesses reported seeing a flash.

Officer Ackermann, 30, was arraigned at State Supreme Court in the Bronx. He was charged with several counts related to filing false records and official misconduct. If convicted on the top count, he faces up to seven years in prison and could lose his job. He was released without bail pending the outcome of the case.


When an officer told Mr. Stolarik to stop taking pictures of a girl being arrested, he identified himself as a Times journalist and continued taking pictures. Another officer grabbed his camera and slammed it into his face, Mr. Stolarik said at the time. As he asked for their badge numbers, the officers took his cameras and pulled him to the ground.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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  • JoeyWall

    A damn good start, relatively speaking, at least.

    But what about the other officers?

    • Frodo

      No action will be taken against them, beating up citizens is part of the job of being a cop.

      • http://principlecondition.blogspot.com/ Steven

        “They get up early to beat the crowds.”

        • Jim

          Beat the crowds and then complain their clubbing hand has carpal tunnel. Apply for ‘disability’.

      • Jim

        RISE of the WARRIOR COP.
        COP to citizen: “You don’t need no stinking rights!”

    • Rail Car Fan

      Joey Wall…

      That’s the same question I had after reading the article.

      Rail Car Fan

      • Jonah Manke

        Well if they didn’t know we can’t get on their case, if they did well that’s another story. Proving they did however will be difficult. I hope this sets a brutal legal standard for the rest of our police to curb this nonsense.

    • blackbellamy

      They didn’t alter official documents so they didn’t get charged. That’s why you beat the crap out of the civilian and then let your partner fill out the papers.

  • http://dailygrackle.wordpress.com NoelArmourson

    Would this have happened if he was a blogger instead of a NYT photographer?
    Still, agreeing with JoeyWall, a good precedent.

    • Jim

      DIANE FEINSTEIN says you’re only a ‘reporter’ and can photograph police IF you’re getting paid.
      That would mean a BLOGGER has no 1st Amendment protection. Along with no 2nd, 4th, 5th. heck, throw out the whole Bill of Rights. Cops say it gets in the way of ‘arresting criminals’.
      That’s why they need M-4s, night vision, military uniforms, MRAPS and drones.

      • Dean Nandana

        Now that’s something the MSM have not been talking about! You must be listening to the No Agenda podcast, perhaps?

  • tiny

    i dont think he will get time, but if they went this far, if they dont give him something to plead to, and put him in front a jury, he would be stupid to let it go that far, he may very well see a year or so. he would be sure to be found guilty one way or another, even if he pleads guilty that is. good for the system, so far, on this one. one thing i can be proud of happening in NYC. and they are few these days, very few.

  • http://www.rockinghorseguy.com/ TheFlashingScotsman

    This is some refreshing news.

  • Frodo

    A cop being charged with falsifying a police report seems a bit suspicious to me. Why target him out of all the other cops that do the exact same thing? Maybe someone should look into the MO of the DA to find out why he’s doing this.

    • PIssed

      hes targetted due to the New York Times Muscle pushing the issue..

    • Phred

      The article notes that photographic evidence makes it clear the cop was lying about the photographer using a flash. With hard evidence of falsifying a report, it becomes more difficult to sweep crap like this under the rug. Thus the charge.

      • Frodo

        How many times have we heard prosecutors say there isn’t enough “evidence” even when a cop has been photographed or video recorded doing something completely illegal? It’s really not hard to sweep something under the rug if you just ignore the evidence.

    • http://dailygrackle.wordpress.com NoelArmourson

      Perhaps the DA is really ticked off that he could have been humiliated in court by any semi-competent photographic forensics expert, or perhaps he is actually a principled individual making an example of egregious misbehavior.

  • megmclain

    “he faces up to seven years in prison and could lose his job”

    what an oddly structured sentence. so, there is a chance he could go to jail, but KEEP his job?

    • Carlos_Miller

      Maybe he can work it out so he is on paid administrative leave while he is in prison, so his job will be waiting for him when he is released.

    • Difdi

      Convicted felons can’t be police, but judges often hand down non-felony sentences to prevent them from having to find a new career after being convicted.

  • MarkKalan

    As a New Yorker let me explain; This would ONLY happen in the Bronx where the majority poor and minority population have been fed up for years by the way the NYPD treats them. Bronx prosecutors have the lowest conviction rate in NYC. Juries in the Bronx rarely believe the “facts” as the police present them because a majority of them have been hassled by the cops for no reason. The fact that the Bronx DA actually brought charges to the Grand Jury is the real victory. The other cops were probably not charged because they didn’t file the arrest report.

  • John

    Brick by brick.

    Keep up the good work!

  • DocRambo

    Does anyone think that in this banana republic run by the lawless Mr. Holder, that this officer will be punished by more than a slap on the wrist or have the charges dropped by loss of evidence, uncooperative witnesses, or some BS technicality?

    • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-Lawyer

      Holder has nothing to do with a state prosecution.

    • Dean Nandana

      EC-LS has the right of it, but I got to say you make a good point that the douchebag Holder is the poster child for police state bullcrap.

  • rick

    Due to cop Ackerman’s lies how much jail time was Stolarik facing?
    How about that potential jail time being added to the seven years Ackerman now faces?

  • bacchys

    I have the same question: What about the other officers?

  • Nick

    This asshole cop should be in jail but will never spend a day! The corrupt assholes that run the police will more than likely promote the guy!