little background on this story. This morning about 7am there was a single vehicle MVA (car into a tree on the interstate). Ended up a code gray. This photographer has been around for a few years, but in this situation the line seems to be blurred between photographer and first responder... What do you think? Note the bold text
CANTERBURY, N.H. -- A Concord-area freelance photographer said a state trooper confiscated his camera at the scene of a car crash Wednesday morning, WMUR News 9 reported.
Brian Blackden said that his digital camera was taken away by state police in Canterbury after he took photos at a fatal single-car wreck on I-93 Wednesday.
Blackden, who is also affiliated with Penacook Rescue, is a former fire fighter, EMT and police officer who takes pictures at emergency scenes all over the state, often sharing them with News 9 and selling the photos to local newspapers.
A year-and-a-half ago, Penacook Rescue invited him to take pictures for their department, and he routinely shows up where they do -- just like he did in Canterbury Wednesday, News 9 reported.
Investigators at the scene said they did not know him and found his actions suspicious, News 9 reported.
"I loaded my fire gear, my helmet and coat into the back of my van, put my cameras away, and he and another trooper approached me, told me to unlock the van and give him the camera," Blackden said.
Police said that it wasn't clear to them if Blackden was acting as a journalist or as something of a first responder at the crash.
"This person was taking pictures right inside the scene, and while the victim was getting medical aid and being worked on, this guy was taking pictures. That's above and beyond where we'd normally be with somebody," Maj. Russell Conte with the New Hampshire State Police said.
Blackden's lawyer said that state police violated her client's first amendment rights when they took the camera.
Conte said troopers did the right thing.
"At that time, when those pictures were being taken, that family of that person did not know there had been an accident, and they did not know that person had died during that accident, so we have a big concern to work for the families of these victims, and to assure there is privacy," Conte said.
Blackden said he did not take any pictures of the victim, and even if he did, he would never allow them to be published.
"As someone who has been involved in enforcement and the fire department, I would never disrespect a victim or their family like that," Blackden said.
Blackden and his attorney, Penny Dean, said that they went to police to try and get the camera back, but were refused.
"We were treated very politely in there, but unfortunately we have no substantive answers other than we have an ongoing investigation, and my answer is an investigation into what?" Dean said.
State police said they are keeping it because pictures taken so close to the scene might display evidence related to the wreck.
Police said that they will continue their investigation and that they are not ruling out the possibility of a criminal charge for Blackden.