Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped charges against a West Virginia journalist who was arrested after trying to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price questions when Price visited the state’s Capitol in May.
Public News Service (PNS) on Wednesday announced that the Kanawha County prosecuting attorney dropped a misdemeanor charge against reporter Dan Heyman of willful disruption of governmental processes.
“The State has determined that Dan Heyman’s conduct was not unlawful and did not violate the law with which he was charged,” PNS said in a statement. “Heyman was facing six months of jail time after moving through a crowd to ask the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price a question.”
Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and her Secret Service protection detail accompanied Price on his trip to West Virginia. Police said in a criminal complaint that Heyman tried to breach Secret Service security and had to be removed.
Price showed little concern about the arrest and said it was not his “decision to make.” He commended police for “doing what they thought was appropriate.”
“That gentleman was not in a press conference,” he added of Heyman.
Heyman in a statement said he was “very relieved” to have the charges dropped and said he did not want his arrest “to have a chilling effect on other reporters.”
“I am shocked that I was arrested in the first place but I’m glad I can put this behind me,” he said. “The intense response to my arrest gives me confidence that people will defend the free press, because they believe in it.”