Guilty verdict for reporter arrested at Annandale parade

Last October we reported about the arrest of Wilfred Michael Stark III.

Stark

Wilfred Michael Stark III
FCPD photo

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.]

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About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at FairfaxNews. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years.  This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns.  He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C. He has won two Ohio State Awards for his reporting and producing and he led coverage that won an Edward R. Murrow Award.