Photographer Shot by Police After Camera Mistaken for Weapon

Photographer Shot by Police After Camera Mistaken for Weapon

Various news outlets are reporting that a photojournalist in the small Ohio town of New Carlisle has been shot without warning by a police officer who apparently mistook his camera for a weapon.

Reports are coming in that photographer Andy Grimm, a photojournalist, had left the office on Monday night to take pictures of the lightning before the storms came in. Grimm had pulled up in his Jeep at a traffic stop which he wasn't part of and in full view of law enforcement began to set up his camera and tripod to take some pictures. It was at this point Grimm was shot in the side without any warning.

According to the local news in the area, Grimm is quoted as saying:

I was going out to take pictures and I saw the traffic stop and I thought, 'Hey, cool. I'll get some pictures here.'

At this point, Grimm pulled into a parking lot and got out of his Jeep in full view of the deputy dealing with an unrelated incident. Grimm then began setting up his camera equipment.

I turned around toward the cars and then 'pop, pop.'

Grimm was shot in the side and was rushed to Miami Valley Hospital for surgery. Thankfully he is expected to recover from his wounds. The Attorney General’s BCI division is investigating the incident, but at this point no other information has been released.

As you can imagine people are coming out to defend both sides of this story, and while I appreciate that our police officers have to make split second decisions, the actions taken in this instance seem rather disproportionate.

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36 Comments

Jason Friedman's picture

Yeah, a camera AND tripod look just like a gun. I'd like to see that dash/body cam footage.

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

Yup, there was a case of a AT squad called for a female photographer with a tripod, which was mistaken for a machine gun, but it ended up with a funny selfie of squad and her, fortunately.

Paul Adshead's picture

I'm not surprised this mistake has happened before. Sadly I don't think it will be the last either...

Charles Yeager's picture

Totally agree. Moving around, carrying a dslr in one hand, people stop and double take all the time.

Paul Adshead's picture

Great point Jason. Let's hope there is some footage of this incident in the hope that lessons can be learned...

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Good luck with getting any dash or body cam footage...unless it shows a machine gun.

Darren Nana's picture

T'would seem US "law enforcement" often suffer from "unfortunate" issues with dash/body cams such as them being off when questionable acts on their part are concerned. Good luck

Seems like nobody is safe these days. Don't be a photographer or a woman in Pajamas reporting a crime or of an ethnic origin other than white.

Crazy idea... get rid of your guns! Or introduce VERY strict licensing.

Edward Lakes's picture

Wow!!!!,Scary

Kirk Darling's picture

Okay, now if this were a combat zone, a guy with a camera on a tripod might be mistaken from long distance as the spotter for a mortar team. But if that police officer thought someone was setting up a machine gun just for him, he needs his blood drawn.

When you just pull a tripod from a bag it is long and with pipes. May be mistaken for a gun.

Kirk Darling's picture

"Mistaken by a gun" only by evilly stupid people--people both stupid and evil. Ordinary stupid people will just say "Wut?" Even soldiers in combat will look twice.

Only evil stupid people will see "pipes" and start shooting.

joe o sullivan's picture

Photographers do it all the time, shoot first, ask questions later. Glad he's going to be OK. #PhotographersLivesMatter

William Howell's picture

Sounds like a bad , very bad mistake.
This calls for immediate dismissal.

Frank Withers's picture

What a moron.

Paul Adshead's picture

It's a valid question, Robert. No further information has been released at this time...

Rodford Smith's picture

There have been similar incidents where amateur - and sometimes even professional - astronomers were arrested as terrorists with rocket launchers. (Well, they're putting up this tube on a tripod in a dark field. They also yell at the police for shining lights on them.)

I'm surprised geocachers haven't had more problems. (They're using encrypted instructions to hide or retrieve an object in a secret location.)

Glad the photog in this case is expected to recover.

Gary Bill's picture

Sadly this shit happens. However after looking at other websites on this subject, I have to ask why an experienced journalist/Fotog would set up a tripod in an active parking lot around several light (strobes from Police units) to photo night skies and lighting.

Paul Adshead's picture

Interesting questions Gary, it was rather late so the active parking lot may have been pretty empty and unused at that time of night, from what I have read the location is a very small town.

"I was going out to take pictures and I saw the traffic stop and I thought, 'Hey, cool. I'll get some pictures here.'"

Based on the quotes I've seen I wonder if maybe he was trying to get the police incident in his shot? Would make an interesting shot combined with some dramatic lightning...

Purley speculation at the point.

Alex Cooke's picture

Traffic stops normally only last 10-15 minutes; that was probably his pre-chosen shooting spot and he probably figured the cop would be gone by the time he set up his gear.

Robert Nurse's picture

Gary, it sounds like you're saying he should have, somehow, known better not to have set up where and when he did. If I'm wrong, please, correct me.

Kirk Darling's picture

Personally, I have my camera on a tripod nearly all the time. Good thing I don't shoot 4x5 anymore.

Gee, what a surprise, another idiot cop. Well, that photographer will be retiring early. People need to stop defending police as if they are somehow above the law and common sense. It's no wonder there are so many incompetent and abusive cops. Many cops today are simply looking to shoot someone.

Jozef Povazan's picture

OK so let me think. You have these crazy drunk criminals in USA driving on streets chased by 25 cops cars in a line behind, watched from helicopters by TV crews for entertainment of private TV channels and no one shoots at the tires of the car to stop it ASAP so they do not put in danger public... am I right, just keep the entertainment running until everyone is happy? Then as an opposite you have a shot fired on a person who in darkness was taking pictures but did not do anything crazy, no crime just setting up a camera and tripod.. how about next time a blind man comes out of a door of his house with his blind stick for walking and he gets shot because he carried a long stick in his hands which looked like a sniper rifle..? Just my 50 cents but there is something very wrong in society happening :(. SAD !!!

...."SAD !!!"

Not sad but alarming. Those cops are killers!

Michael Kormos's picture

So it's night time. Probably very dark. A police officer had just pulled someone over for who knows what, and then a random Jeep parks nearby, and an unidentified person starts setting up what looks like a support device with a long barrel, and starts pointing it right at the police officer.

I'm just trying to picture all possibilities and viewpoints. It's easy for us to be armchair experts, basing our comments on catchy headlines.

It would've been smart to tell the officer exactly what you're doing ahead of time. They probably would've avoided this whole situation. I feel that both parties are to blame.

I hope the photographer is ok.

Paul Adshead's picture

Michael Kormos says:

"So it's night time. Probably very dark. A police officer had just pulled someone over for who knows what, and then a random Jeep parks nearby, and an unidentified person starts setting up what looks like a support device with a long barrel, and starts pointing it right at the police officer..."

*If* the way you describe the situation is accurate then the police officer MAY have thought his life was at risk. The problem is it's all speculation.

I'd like to add that the location in question is a small town which is quoted as being a place where everybody knows everybody. In fact, Grimm the photographer who was shot actually knew the police officer who shot him.

If the officer in question regularly works in the evening and the photographer regularly takes pictures at night you'd have thought in such a small town where everybody knows everybody the officer would have recognized the vehicle at least? Just like your suggestions mine is also speculation.

As for your comment on "catchy headlines,"
"Photographer Shot by Police After Camera Mistaken for Weapon" might be catchy but it only contains the facts of the story. My intention was to accurately summarize the story.

Michael Kormos's picture

Well look, I'll tell you this much. A local police officer has his fair share of pulling plenty of out-of-towners over. I don't think his first thought when he saw the unidentified person setting up a contraption of sorts was "Oh hey, that's the local photographer. He must be setting up a tripod with a telephoto lens with me in focus, and the stormy clouds behind me."

It's one of those split second decisions. Shoot or be shot. When both sides make the wrong decision, this is the sad result.

Kirk Darling's picture

Setting up a tripod doesn't happen in a split second.

I've actually been meaning to trick out my monopod with bright colored tape and/or unicorn stickers because walking through the woods with a long piece of black metal no longer seems wise.