A reporter with a liberal media outlet was found guilty of misdemeanor disorderly conduct Tuesday over an October confrontation with police as he was attempting to cover then-Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillepsie.
Shareblue Media’s Mike Stark claimed Fairfax County police officers mishandled the incident, part of which was captured on video and shows him being taken to the ground before his arrest. A Fairfax County General District Court judge imposed a $500 fine on Stark. A second misdemeanor charge for fleeing police was dismissed.
Judge Mark Simmons told Stark that officers had given him lots of breaks during the incident, that he “went from being a reporter to an actor” and had actually sought the confrontation.
Stark said he was disappointed with the outcome and was weighing what to do next.
“I took it to trial believing I had the law on my side,” he said. “So I’m surprised at the outcome.”
On the video, Fairfax County police officers can be seen arguing with Stark, before he is pushed against a fence and then forced to the ground at a parade in Annandale, Va., on Oct. 28.
The incident began when an officer asked Stark to stay away from a van carrying Gillespie, the reporter said at the time.
Stark said he told the officer that he was a reporter and would be covering Gillespie, but police claimed he was blocking a roadway on the parade route and was asked to move.
Stark was previously involved in an altercation caught on tape at a political rally for then- Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in 2006. In that incident, Stark said he was assaulted by Allen staffers.
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said Tuesday that he was satisfied with the outcome of the case.
“I am pleased with the judge’s decision,” Roessler said. “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.”
An internal investigation into the incident is still underway.