Hamilton police arrest and fine a journalist - the 3rd incident in 2 years

A Burlington journalist says he's reviewing his legal options after he was arrested by Hamilton police Thursday and required treatment in hospital.

Andrew Collins says he required hospital attention after he got a trespassing fine

Andrew Collins has been a videographer in Hamilton for 11 years. (Andrew Collins)

A Burlington journalist says he's reviewing his legal options after he was arrested by Hamilton police Thursday and required treatment in hospital.

Andrew Collins says he was shooting footage at St. Joseph's West 5th campus around 7 p.m. when an officer threw him to the ground and handcuffed him. Collins says he was given a $50 trespassing ticket, and that he was treated and released at Burlington hospital for bruises, cuts and scrapes.

"My knuckles are all cut up from (the officer) landing on top of me and putting my face to the ground," said Collins, a freelance videographer. "That's how hard they took me down."

Andrew Collins says he took his photo Thursday night after his interaction with police. (Andrew Collins)

He's asked for a meeting with Hamilton Police Service (HPS), he said. He's also considering his legal options.

Collins said he was filming a disturbance at the West 5th campus when the interaction happened.

He said he was already leaving the scene when a St. Joe's security guard approached him and told him to delete his footage. Collins said he refused, then the officer approached him.

Hamilton police confirmed the incident in an email Friday.

"Security staff at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton requested police assistance with a freelance photojournalist who refused to leave their property when directed," said spokesperson Jackie Penman in a media release.

Collins says he received bruises on his wrists and face from being handcuffed. (Andrew Collins)

"Police also requested that the media member leave as per hospital policy but the individual continuously refused to leave the premises.

"The individual was arrested, issued a ticket under the Trespass to Property Act and released. The matter is now before the courts and we won't be commenting further."

St. Joe's, through spokesperson Maria Hayes, said an incident Collins attended to report on involved "an individual damaging property." 

"St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton security requested a freelance photo journalist, who was taking video, to leave the property of the hospital. Hospital policy does not allow taking of photos or videos of patients and staff without their permission to protect their privacy," Hayes said.

Jeremy Cohn, a Global TV videographer, is suing Hamilton police after he was arrested last year and released without charges. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

"When the individual refused to leave the hospital property, security asked police to request that the individual leave the property."

Collins sells his footage to numerous media outlets, including CBC News.

This is third incident in two years of Hamilton Police Service (HPS) officer arresting a journalist. 

Dave Ritchie was charged last year and negotiated a deal with prosecutors to have the charges dropped. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

In 2017, freelance videographer Dave Ritchie was arrested at the scene of a fatal collision. He was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer, and later reached a deal with prosecutors that would see the charges dropped.

Jeremy Cohn, a Global TV videographer, was arrested at that same scene but released without being charged. He is now suing HPS.

Collins was there when those arrests happened too. He filmed an officer arresting Cohn, and can be heard off camera asking why Cohn was being arrested.

"I said there was a culture problem when Jeremy and Dave got arrested," said Collins, who's been working in the Hamilton area for 11 years. 

About the Author

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca