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Photographer arrested at mall after taking holiday photos

An award-winning video journalist was arrested by Charleston Police Tuesday after he took pictures of Santa Claus and a choir at the Town Center Mall.

Scott Rensberger, 47, of Washington is charged with battery on a police officer and resisting arrest, according to criminal complaints filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

According to the complaint, Rensberger slapped the hand of Charleston police Cpl. R.C. Basford as the officer attempted to block Rensberger from taking a picture of him. Rensberger then “attempted to pull away” from the officer, Basford wrote in the complaint.

When a working journalist takes photos in the mall, they are supposed to let mall management know, she said.

“A lot of our merchants don’t want people to come in and film inside their store,” she said.

Mall customers can bring cameras into the mall and take pictures, she said.

“The info I received is that in this case numerous parents and Santa Claus and the Santa photo staff recognized that the individual didn’t have any children with him and requested that he stop taking pictures,” McCracken said. “The mall responded correctly, just to inquire to see what was going on. That’s what we did and that’s our responsibility.”

Rensberger said he doesn’t know if he will sue the department over the incident.

“I don’t think I have a choice,” he said. “If this guy shows that kind of force to a guy who took a picture of a choir and of Santa and a uniformed police officer in the mall, then what kind of force is he going to show someone in a dark alley somewhere where no one was watching.”

When asked why he took the photo of the officer, rather than just answer his question, Rensberger said he wanted a record of who was questioning him.

“I was not under arrest and it was not illegal. … I’ve taken photos all over the world and this is the only time I’ve ever been arrested like this,” Rensberger said.
Source: The Charleston Gazette

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