By David Brand
Charges were dismissed Wednesday for a freelance photographer on assignment at LaGuardia Airport who was issued a court summons for “loitering.” Angus Mordant received the summons from Port Authority Police after he photographed a law enforcement team rushing through an entrance to the airport, prosecutors said.
The dismissal came a day after the Eagle reported on the case.
Mordant had finished photographing the arrival of former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for an Australian newspaper when he noticed the team of police officers rushing toward Terminal D shortly after 9 p.m. on Sept. 2.
“I’m pleased that the court did the constitutionally right thing by dismissing the case upholding my constitutionally protected right as a photojournalist to document law enforcement activities in a public place,” Mordant said. “The summons was absolutely ridiculous.”
Mordant parked his car in the arrivals area and was issued a parking ticket, according to court documents. He said he did not dispute the ticket — though he has press plates issued by the NYPD — and paid the fine.
Port Authority Police approached Mordant and told him he should have contacted their office before photographing a breaking news event like a spur-of-the-moment police action in a public area of the airport. Mordant did not enter the airport to take the photographs and instead took the photos through glass windows.
“Taking photographs and video of things that are plainly visible in public spaces is a constitutional right — and that includes transportation facilities, the outside of federal buildings and police and other government officials carrying out their duties,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Mordant appeared in Queens Criminal Court Tuesday for a desk appearance before Judge Phyllis Flug. He was charged with loitering or remaining “in any transportation facility, unless specifically authorized to do so, for the purpose of soliciting or engaging in any business, trade or commercial transactions involving the sale of merchandise or services, or for the purpose of entertaining persons by singing, dancing or playing any musical instrument.”
As of press time, the Port Authority did not provide comment.