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Police officers harass, try to run over journalist

(CEPET/IFEX) - On 25 May 2010, municipal police in Tijuana, Baja California, harassed and tried to back their patrol car into José Luis Camarillo Téllez, a photojournalist with "El Sol de Tijuana", while he was covering a confrontation between police and taxi drivers near the border with the USA. The State Attorney General and the local Human Rights Prosecutor's Office (Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos y Protección Ciudadana de Baja California, PDH-BC) have each opened an investigation into the case.

The incident took place at approximately 9:00 a.m. near the San Ysidro border crossing, where a taxi driver and an individual got into a heated discussion that ended in them throwing punches and other drivers getting involved. Municipal police arrived and attempted to stop the fight, but when they tried to arrest some of the drivers the situation deteriorated.

Reporters and photographers from various media outlets arrived to cover the confrontation. Camarillo got out his equipment to take photographs and it was then that he saw one of the police vehicles coming toward him where he was standing on the sidewalk.

"Apparently the officer veered towards the sidewalk where I was standing, because he was annoyed that I was taking photos", said Camarillo. Other police officers harassed and insulted him, threatening to detain him. They also tried to seize his camera, interfering with his work.

Camarillo filed a complaint with the State Attorney General. He also said that he was further harassed when he went to the Municipal Police depot, north of Tijuana, when he went there to photograph the detained taxi drivers. The same officer who had driven the patrol car tried to intimidate Camarillo by driving by the station.

Heriberto García García, the head of the PDH-BC, pledged that his organization would fully support Camarillo saying, "we cannot let this type of intimidation happen to journalists." He added that they would fight against actions such as these taken by police who are following an unwritten rule to harass the media.

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