WWL-TV photojournalist T.J. Pipitone and a colleague were assaulted by an individual while reporting on the mistaken release of a convicted pedophile in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, on March 3, 2022.
In a report for the broadcast station, reporter David Hammer said that he and the photojournalist had gone to the home of Brian David Matherne for comment after he was released more than seven years early from his nearly 30-year sentence. The journalists did not know at the time that Matherne had been imprisoned again after some victims alerted the state Department of Corrections of the error.
“Before we could approach the trailer, we were attacked by the owner of the property — Bruce Verdin — who was arrested by Tangipahoa Sheriff’s deputies,” Hammer said.
WWL-TV reported that Verdin, who is Matherne’s brother-in-law, attacked the journalists with a wrench and attempted to hit the photojournalist with his truck. In footage of the incident, Verdin can be seen repeatedly striking out at the journalists and their camera.
Hammer, who did not respond to requests for comment, identified himself and photojournalist T.J. Pipitone as the journalists attacked in a tweet.
Had quite a day. My @WWLTV investigation got a serial child molester put back in prison after his erroneous early release. Then photographer @TJPIPITONE and I got attacked. See the details next at 10:00 on Channel 4.— David Hammer (@davidhammerWWL) March 4, 2022
In response to a note asking if they were OK, Hammer wrote that they had suffered “just a couple bumps and bruises.” Pipitone also did not respond to messages requesting comment.
The station reported that the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office arrested Verdin on three counts of aggravated battery and a count of aggravated destruction of property. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker was not able to verify whether any of the journalists’ equipment was damaged in the assault.
This content originally appeared on U.S. Press Freedom Tracker: All Incidents and was authored by U.S. Press Freedom Tracker: All Incidents.