NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A local journalist and activist filed a complaint today in municipal court claiming an Illinois man grabbed him and took his video camera as he covered a speech by CNN analyst April Ryan earlier this month.
According to the complaint filed by Charles Kratovil, Joel Morris, 30, of Country Club Hills, Illinois, grabbed Kratovil by his left arm and twisted it behind his back, "causing injury to his forearm and shoulder."
Kratovil also says Morris forcibly grabbed his camera and removed it from his possession.
Morris is facing two disorderly person charges for harassment and assault. He is also facing a charge of theft by unlawful taking.
The incident allegedly occurred on Aug. 3 at the Heldrich Hotel, which was hosting the fourth annual New Jersey Parent Summit, an annual conference organized by the Newark-based non-profit Project Ready. Ryan was the keynote speaker.
Kratovil said in an email that Morris works as a security guard for Ryan.
Morris did not respond to repeated phone calls from TAPinto New Brunswick seeking comment. Ryan did not respond to a request for a comment made through her website.
According to the complaint, Morris is summoned to appear in Superior Court in New Brunswick on Sept. 12 at 9 a.m.
Juan Melli, vice president of Mercury, which helped organize the event, acknowledged the company had invited Kratovil to the event. Kratovil said he had prior authorization to take video of Ryan at the event. When asked if Kratovil had prior approval to take video of Ryan, he said, "I can't speak to that."
Kratovil is the editor of New Brunswick Today. He ran against incumbent Jim Cahill as an independent candidate in the 2018 mayoral race. Cahil ended up receiving about 77% of the vote.
"This was more than just an assault on me," Kratovil said today in an email. "This was an assault on freedom of the press, and April Ryan should have immediately condemned the use of violence against a journalist. Because Ms. Ryan has failed to publicly address or apologize for her role in this ugly incident, I am now seeking legal counsel to initiate proceedings that will hold her accountable for the unacceptable and illegal behavior of her employee."