Photographer Arrested at Protests Has Felony Assault Charges Dropped

A close-up of a person's wrists handcuffed, with a focus on one hand and the metal cuffs. the person is wearing a dark blue shirt, and the background is a blurred light gray surface.

A photojournalist arrested while covering a Pro-Palestinian protest at a university had his assault charges dropped following an outcry.

Carlos Sanchez, a news photographer for Fox 7 Austin, was covering the protests at the University of Texas Austin when the Department of Public Safety (DPS) charged him with assault against a peace officer, a second-degree felony, according to his employer.

Arrest documents from the DPS claimed Sanchez lunged at the back of a highway patrol trooper, ultimately hitting him with a camera, Fox 7 Austin reports.

“While in the crowd, Sanchez was pulled backward and to the ground by DPS troopers,” the station says. “He was arrested, charged with criminal trespassing, and spent the night in jail.”

While the criminal trespassing charge was dropped the next day, according to Fox 7 Austin, the arrest documents led to another felony assault charge.

The Society of Professional Journalists, a professional journalism organization, has criticized the move online demanding the felony assault charge be dropped.

“It’s crystal clear from every angle of videos capturing the incident that Sanchez did not intentionally hit anyone while covering protests at the University of Texas at Austin last week,” SPJ National President Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins says. “This is such a dangerous escalation by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and it feels like the agency is trying to send a message to journalists across the state who are covering this highly publicized and developing story.”

The organization additionally called on all law enforcement to “allow journalists to report on this developing story without interference.”

The photographer’s attorney told Fox 7 Austin today that the felony assault charge against Sanchez had been dropped.

“While I’m relieved [Texas DPS] finally did the right thing, the photographer should have never been arrested and charged in the first place,” Blaize-Hopkins said on X. “It’s clear this case was meant to cause a chilling effect and serve as a warning to other journalists across [Texas] covering this highly publicized story. [Texas DPS’] actions were unacceptable and unconstitutional.”

“Amazing news! There should never have been a question of criminal charges, misdemeanor or felony, against a journalist reporting on the protests like that,” Texas state senator Sarah Eckhardt writes on X. “An independent free press is a NECESSITY in telling the story of the growing authoritarian problem we are seeing in TX!”

Meanwhile, protests for Palestine continue across the U.S. and throughout the world.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.