Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Attorney General Will Not Prosecute Publisher

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Attorney General Will Not Prosecute Publisher

Article excerpt

After mulling it over for nearly a year, the California Attorney General's office has decided not to prosecute Pulitzer Prize-winning publisher Dave Mitchell over an incident he and the whole town of Point Reyes Station, Calif., would just as soon forget.

In September 1994, Mitchell recalls, a state Highway Patrolman knocked him to the ground, shoved his face in the dirt and handcuffed him while he was trying to shoot pictures of a horror movie being filmed at a local school yard. Mitchell, editor and publisher of the weekly Point Reyes Light in Marin County, was charged with obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor.

The newsman said he was driving his wife Cynthia back from San Francisco, after her foot surgery, when he noticed California Highway Patrolmen (CHP) blocking off the road adjacent to the elementary school, where director John Carpenter was filming a scene in the picture Village of the Damned for Universal Pictures.

"It was quite a scene," Mitchell said. "School kids were being used as extras in the movie and a lot of them were lying on the ground in the yard as if they were dead."

Mitchell, who always carries a camera in his car, began pumping the shutter from just outside a fence surrounding the school. As Mitchell recollects, an assistant director rushed over, yelling that it was a closed set. He then pushed his hand in front of the lens and when that failed, took a swing at him despite the fact that Mitchell had identified himself and his paper.

When Mitchell ducked the punch, he said, the director summoned the patrolman who was working off-duty for the studio.

"Thank God, I thought to myself," Mitchell recounted. "The cops would come over and I could explain the situation. But before I could say anything, one of them got me in an armlock and forced me to the ground. A few seconds later, I was handcuffed and put in a patrol car."

During the struggle, the journalist said, his 35 mm camera was knocked to the ground and damaged but not so badly that Cynthia couldn't retrieve it and begin shooting frames of her husband being arrested. …

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