Amos Newsome, commissioner of Dothan, Ala.’s District 2, was arrested Tuesday after being caught on camera hitting a local television reporter twice, causing injury, the Dothan Eagle reports.
Newsome, 82, was taken into custody and charged with third-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor. The commissioner reportedly hit WTVY reporter Ken Curtis Tuesday after the reporter inquired about voter-fraud allegations related to his 2013 election. Curtis asked Newsome if he planned to resign, and Newsome lifted his hand, appearing to hit the reporter and reportedly causing Curtis to bleed from his right cheek.
“WTVY is extremely disappointed and horrified by the actions of Dothan City Commissioner Amos Newsome for his unwarranted physical attack on one of our employees. We understand that holding political office can be stressful, but that never warrants unwanted physical contact, let alone an open, public assault. Our employee was attacked in the course of doing their job, which they are entitled to do without the fear of physical violence,” WTVY Vice President and General Manager Spencer Bienvenu said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“Freedom of the press is a guaranteed right, one that should allow us to do our jobs in a safe, nonthreatening environment,” he continued. “WTVY intends to press charges against Commissioner Newsome, to ensure that no one else will be attacked in the course of doing their job. We’re grateful for the relationship that we continue to have with the Dothan City Commission and our elected officials.”
In the video, Curtis approaches Newsome outside the Dothan Civic Center and begins questioning him about voter-fraud allegations. Newsome attempts to move Curtis out of the way, but Curtis, undeterred, continues to pursue him. Newsome moves his arm to push Curtis away and makes contact with the reporter’s face. Curtis continues to ask his questions as Newsome is preparing to get into his vehicle, and it is at that point that Newsome lashes out at Curtis with his open hand. Curtis reportedly suffered a scratch mark on his cheek, which caused bleeding, and was treated at the scene.
Curtis, for his part, does not believe he did anything wrong, and filed an affidavit and signed a warrant on Tuesday.
“I’m just sorry Mr. Newsome felt it was necessary to do that. I’m sure it has been a very stressful time for him. But this is not about me. This is about freedom of the press. This is for the right we have to ask questions that the public has a right to know about,” the reporter told the Eagle.
As the site notes, Newsome hasn’t been charged with a crime related to the voter-fraud controversy, but three volunteers with his campaign were convicted this year on related charges. Three fellow city commissioners have called for Newsome’s resignation, but the commissioner has not made any public comments about his plans and continues to attend meetings, the Eagle notes.
Read more at the Dothan Eagle.