As emergency text messages went out to those with Purdue accounts, Michael Takeda said he crossed a skywalk from the Materials and Electrical Engineering Building into the Electrical Engineering Building in search of photos around the scene. He says the building wasn’t sealed off by police at that point, and when he realized the building was being cleared, he started backtracking to leave. That’s when, he said, he was confronted by police.
According to his account in a complaint filed with Purdue Police Chief John Cox, police told him to get on the ground. He said that once he was on his knees and had identified himself as a member of The Exponent, police tackled him, pinning his camera equipment under him.
Takeda said police detained him for two hours. He said police kept his camera equipment for another hour on top of that. At the police department, Takeda said an officer told him Exponent staff was “a pain in the ass” and that he was lucky he didn’t get shot, adding: “I hope you get charged then thrown out of school. And you know what you’ll be doing next year? Working at McDonald’s.”
Late last week, Purdue responded to a formal complaint from the National Press Photographers Association with a promise of an investigation. With that came an initial defense from Steven Schultz, Purdue’s legal counsel, who said the university was “hesitant to second-guess the essential and often life-saving judgment calls made on the spot” by police in that moment.
Kuhnle said he doesn’t hold out much hope the university will back away from what happened, even if his staff is protected by the Privacy Protection Act, a 1980 federal law meant to prevent police and other government officials from confiscating notes, photos and equipment from journalists.