Last October we reported about the arrest of Wilfred Michael Stark III.
Stark, a reporter for the political news website Shareblue Media, was arrested at Annandale’s annual community parade. Fairfax County police said that the arrest occurred after an officer asked Stark to move from the street onto the sidewalk. Police say Stark was blocking the start of the parade and creating a disturbance.
A video shows Stark moving onto the sidewalk but then arguing with the officer and cursing. As the officer tries to handcuff Stark the video appears to show him becoming unruly. As more officers arrive, the video showed Stark being taken to the ground and, eventually, being handcuffed.
Two sides to the story
Stark told a different story. He sent an email to the Washington Post claiming the incident began when a police officer asked him to stay away from a van carrying Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie as the parade was about to begin. Stark claims he told the officer he was a reporter covering Gillespie.
Tuesday afternoon a Fairfax County General District Court judge found Stark guilty of disorderly conduct and fined him $500. Judge Mark Simmons told the courtroom that officers gave Stark “a lot of breaks” and that he went from “being a reporter to an actor.” Stark was found not guilty of resisting arrest.
“I am pleased with the judge’s decision,” Fairfax County police Chief Edwin C. Roessler, Jr. said in a news release. “I continue to stand behind the great men and women of the Fairfax County Police Department who work diligently to keep our community members safe every day.”
The police department’s Internal Affairs Bureau continues to investigate the incident.
[UPDATE: An earlier version of this story said that police “assaulted” Stark. Assault is a legal term and should not have been used in this context.]