Drop that camera2/04/2001 07:00:00 PM Eastern
A Wilmington, N.C., TV cameraman was detained at gunpoint and handcuffed by police who mistook him for a robbery suspect last week.
WWAY-TV's Michael Pelzer beat police to the scene at the Marshalls department store where the robbery was believed to have taken place. Pelzer was having lunch in the same mall.
Although Pelzer apparently matched elements of the description-the only black man with a cell phone in view-and was stopped and cuffed by a new officer, other officers who knew Pelzer arrived soon after and vouched for him, effecting his release.
Pelzer, could not be reached, but Executive Producer Chris Ruffin said the photographer was not angered-despite having been mistaken for a criminal suspect three previous times-and was able to laugh about the incident later. "He was probably talking to me on the cell phone" when police stopped him, said Ruffin.