Footage of cop stopping MSNBC reporter following Kyle Rittenhouse jury bus goes viral
A day after the incident, judge Bruce Schroeder barred MSNBC from court proceedings
The Kenosha Police Department in Wisconsin has released video of an NBC News freelancer, James Joseph Morrison, 62, being stopped by policemen for following a bus carrying the Kyle Rittenhouse jury. The day following the stop, Judge Bruce Schroeder expelled MSNBC from the Rittenhouse trial. Morrison's "vehicle was approximately one city block behind the unmarked van," according to a police report.
Morrison, who introduced himself as an NBC producer to the police, stated he was being cautious after a brief discussion with the officer regarding the location of his "offices" and how they knew about the vehicle Morrison was following.
“Were you following a vehicle?” a police officer asked Morrison as recorded in the officer's body cam. To which Morrison said, "I was trying to see — I was being called by New York, going, maybe these are people you need to follow, but I, I don’t know. I was trying to.... "
"You was trying to what?” the officer inquired. Morrison said, "Just do what they told me to do". The police officer followed the conversation by asking, “New York told you to follow a vehicle?” Morrison said, "Yes". “It was discreet,” Morrison continued. “I wasn’t, like, you know, going to talk to anybody or anything. Just trying to find a location, that’s all.” Morrison then dialled the number of the person who instructed him to follow the vehicle.
Irene, a booking producer at NBC, answered the phone on the other end of the line. Judge Schroeder had previously named the NBC employee as Irene Byon, and Morrison's phone screen displayed her complete name while an officer spoke to her on speakerphone. “Law enforcement wants to talk to you,” Morrison told Irene.
Byon gave Morrison a rambling explanation of her ostensibly tactical orders as per Law and Crime's reports. She said, "Um, we — we — we were just trying to respectfully, um, just trying to see if it’s, um, if it’s possible to, um, to try and get any leads about — um — about the case, and so we were, we, uh, we were just keeping our distance, um, just to see, like, where, um, peop — people involved in — in the — in the trial, um, are positioned. By no means were we trying to get in contact with any of — any of the jury members or whoever’s in the car. We just were, um, trying to see, like, where, um, where key players in the trial may be at."
Morrison attempted to intervene with a story about jurors receiving letters after their service on the Rittenhouse case was completed. While speaking with Morrison and Byon, the officer took a break to report back to dispatch. "You advised him to follow — like — any vehicle?” the police officer inquired Byon. “Did you know which vehicle he was following?"
Byon said, “People positioned in different areas in the courthouse to see if anyone . . . would be able to . . . ”. "We can’t afford anything crazy happening, putting people in dangerous positions,” while referring to Morrison's claimed traffic infraction, the officer told Byon.
“While the traffic violation took place near the jury van, the freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them,” the day following the incident, NBC News issued a statement, citing, no doubt, the legally applicable phrase in the Wisconsin statute.