KEY POINTS

  • Christian Petersen allegedly held a cameraman reporting a lockdown protest at knifepoint
  • The First Amendment gives the public the right to assemble and the press a right to report it
  • Petersen's attorney called the incident a result of "gross misunderstanding”

A lawyer learned about the First Amendment the hard way Friday (April 17) when he was arrested after allegedly threatening journalists covering protests against California’s lockdown order, according to multiple reports. The amendment gives the public the right to assemble and the press a right to report it, among other things.

A KTTV news team was reporting on a protest over the continuing shutdowns required by coronavirus in Huntington Beach when Christien Petersen approached the reporter and cameraman. Petersen is alleged to have pulled a pocket knife out, forced the cameraman into the news vehicle and demand that the latter delete footage of Petersen protesting.

The reporter called the police. When police arrived, Petersen was still holding the photographer at knife point inside the van, KTTV reported. Petersen was allegedly intoxicated at the time, according to reports.

Petersen was arrested on counts of kidnapping and exhibiting a deadly weapon other than a firearm. He is listed as a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles on the avvo.com directory.

KTTV is a Fox station. The unidentified photographer and reporter were not injured, according to the station. “Obviously they were shaken up by the incident, but thankfully they are OK,” Fox spokeswoman Erica Keane told The New York Post.

The employees are expected to return to work in the next few days, Keane said.

Petersen’s attorney contends it was all a “gross misunderstanding.”

“A man took [Petersen]’s photo and [Petersen] objected because he was not part of the protest and did not want to be associated with it. We do not believe that an attempted kidnapping is supported by the facts and that all that has happened to [Petersen] is due to a gross misunderstanding,” Christopher Darden said in a statement to The Post.

“[Petersen] just wanted to verify the man had deleted the photo as he agreed to do. [Petersen] was seeking a new job and did not want the publication of a misleading photo to cause him to lose a job opportunity. … Needless to say, my client is concerned for the welfare of anyone that might have been affected. When and if the opportunity arises he intends to offer his personal apology to the cameraman,” Darden said.

Petersen remained in custody in lieu of $100,000 bail as of Monday evening, inmate records show, The Orange County Register reported. Petersen was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.