Federal investigators declare Secret Service choke slamming photographer at rally 'reasonable'

Federal investigators declare Secret Service choke slamming photographer at rally 'reasonable'
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Federal investigators determined that the Secret Service was “reasonable” in choke slamming a photographer at a February 2016 Trump rally at Radford University in Virginia.

Videos emerged shortly after the event showing the photographer, Christopher Morris, getting slammed to the ground by a Secret Service agent in a gray suit, who was identified as William Figueroa. 

According to a classified Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general report obtained by Politico, investigators found the “use of force was reasonable in light of the totality of the circumstances.”

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Among other reasons, investigators found that Figueroa was acting in self-defense amid the possibility that Morris may have used his camera as a weapon. The report also determined that the agent did not try to choke Morris, and that if he did place his hand on his throat it was on accident. 

The watchdog report reveals that federal prosecutors considered bringing criminal charges against Morris and Figueroa, but decided not to file a case against either of them.

Morris declined to speak with investigators during the curation of the report on advice from Time magazine attorneys, according to Politico. Morris was not covering the rally but was there to follow then-candidate Trump on the plane ride, where he was supposed to take portraits of him. 

When Politico shared the report’s findings with Morris, the journalist said it's reflective of the power law enforcement has in shaping the narrative of instances when they use force. 

“I’m a journalist ... I’m white,” Morris said. “I can only imagine what Black people or others in society go through when they go through something with law enforcement and then they read about it in a police report.”

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.