Leaders avoid questions; Nakamoto escorted away in handcuffs, given summons
WHITE CASTLE - Police detained WBRZ reporter Chris Nakamoto while Nakamoto was pursuing a story on town government operations Wednesday.
Nakamoto was put in handcuffs, escorted to the police department and written a misdemeanor summons. The summons was written for an alleged violation of statute 14:63, remaining after being forbidden.
A WBRZ video photographer recorded the entire situation. Watch the attached video of Nakamoto's discussion with a White Castle Police officer who eventually puts handcuffs on Nakamoto. Also, CLICK HERE for video of Nakamoto being escorted with his hands behind his back to the police station.
The summons requires a court appearance in April.
Nakamoto, the Chief Investigator of the WBRZ Investigative Unit, was in White Castle looking into questions about the mayor's salary. This week, WBRZ submitted a public records request related to how much the mayor makes. A public records request is a formal inquiry anyone can make to get access to public government documents. An elected official's salary is public information. Nakamoto was at city hall checking on the records request.
Previously, WBRZ and WBRZ.com have reported documents obtained by the Investigative Unit indicated that during the week of April 6 until April 19, 2015, Mayor Jermarr Williams earned $20.31 per hour. That's about $40,000 per year. Later, from November 16 thru the 29th, check registers indicated his salary increased to $24.44; about $51,000. That hourly rate equates to almost a 20 percent raise. WBRZ is told any increase to the mayor's salary needs to be done by ordinance and the records request was set to show when an ordinance was approved by city council members for the new salary.
Last year, citizens of White Castle sued, claiming Williams and the town clerk refused to produce public records they requested. Friday, a judge ordered the town to produce the records and required the town to pay fees associated with the citizens' lawsuit.
The White Castle Police chief was unavailable for comment. Calls to the mayor's office have not been returned.
"WBRZ stands by Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto," Director of News Lee Polowczuk, said in a statement. "That’s first and foremost. The public expects this news organization to ask tough questions and hold the powerful accountable. Our reporters are not going to be intimidated by public officials when we are getting you answers. Station management is looking into all legal remedies regarding this incident."
Nakamoto, who also anchors WBRZ News 2 at 5:00, continues to report on the records request.
Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz
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