FREE PRESS — A judge ruled last week that a San Francisco State University photojournalism student who was at the
scene of a Bayview neighborhood street killing was a working journalist
in the eyes of state law and did not have to surrender his photos to
police, reports Jaxon Van Derbeken for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Francisco Superior Court Judge Tomar Mason ordered police to return
evidence they seized from the student's apartment after the killing,
saying the man was covered by California's shield law for journalists.
The law allows journalists to keep sources confidential and to withhold
unpublished information from law enforcement.
The 22-year-old student has refused to talk to police about what he
saw April 17 when Norris Bennett, 21, was gunned down during a dice
game at Griffith Street and Navy Road.
His attorneys say the man fears for his life and does not want his name publicized.
San Francisco police obtained a search warrant for his apartment in
May and seized photos and other items. The student, who was with
Bennett to gather material for a project on life in the Bayview,
demanded that the search warrant be quashed and the items returned to
Mason ruled Wednesday that evidence that the student had been acting
as a journalist was "uncontroverted," said Michael Ng, the student's
No one has been arrested in Bennett's killing.
"We're just going to try to find another anglewe're just going to
find some witnesses who aren't cowards, like this student is, hiding
behind the shield law," said Lt. Mike Stasko of the police homicide