NYPD officer Michael Ackermann was convicted Thursday on a felony charge of of falsifying a record to justify the 2012 arrest of a New York Times photographer in the Bronx, the New York Times reports.
On August 4, 2012, according to the Times, the photographer, Robert Stolarik, was taking pictures of police arresting a young black woman in the Bronx for a story about the use of stop-and-frisk tactics in the 44th Precinct.
Officer Michael Ackermann claimed that Stolarik—who had previously been arrested during Occupy Wall Street—had interfered with the arrest by repeatedly shoving the camera’s flash in his face: Stolarik was charged with obstructing government administration and resisting arrest.
Officer Ackermann was silent as Justice Michael A. Gross in State Supreme Court in the Bronx read the verdict following a bench trial that included emotional testimony from the officer, who admitted making a mistake. The judge did not offer an explanation for his decision.
Officer Ackermann, a 10-year veteran of the Police Department, has been on modified duty since being indicted in August 2013. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 2 and faces up to four years in prison, prosecutors said. After the verdict was announced, the department said Officer Ackermann had been suspended without pay.
In multiple interviews after his arrest, Stolarik said the officers tried to prevent him from photographing the encounter, and that when he asked for their badge numbers, he was “surrounded and taken down — dragged, kicked, and stomped on.” Stolarik spent the night in jail, and his equipment and press credentials were confiscated; he was also charged with obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest, though those charges were eventually dropped.
“I think it’s important; it’s rare that people are held accountable for their actions,” Stolarik said outside the courtroom on Wednesday. “In this case, he lied, and he lied to protect himself, and it turned on him.”