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City of Medford officially responds to journalist's lawsuit

 Bodycam video from Medford Police show officers arresting then-Jefferson Public Radio reporter April Ehrlich on Sept. 22, 2020.  The incident stirred debate over journalists' access to police actions.
Video via the firm of Kafoury & McDougal, Portland, Oregon.
Bodycam video from Medford Police show officers arresting then-Jefferson Public Radio reporter April Ehrlich on Sept. 22, 2020. The incident stirred debate over journalists' access to police actions.

The City of Medford has formally responded to a lawsuit filed by an Oregon Public Broadcasting journalist.

The suit stems from April Ehrlich’s arrest and detainment by Medford Police two years ago. At the time of her arrest, she was a reporter at Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland.

Ehrlich’s suit is for damages incurred when she was prevented from reporting on the sweep of a homeless camp a few weeks after the Almeda Fire in September 2020. She faced multiple charges from the City of Medford, which were all dropped or dismissed ahead of her trial last September.

Talking to KLCC with her attorney, Ehrlich made clear she was taking the city to court.

“What Medford did was wrong, and doubling down on my arrest by pursuing charges was even worse," she said.

In a 13-page response filed with the U.S. District Court’s Medford Division, the Medford City Attorney’s Office disputes Ehrlich’s characterization of her arrest. They also assert no constitutional rights were violated, and add any injuries sustained were by Ehrlich’s resistance while being handcuffed. The city attorney’s response also insists the closing of Hawthorne Park to the public during the sweep was lawful, and that Ehrlich failed to go to a designated media staging area as other reporters present did.

The response closes with the “City Defendants” demanding a jury trial, and the dismissal of Ehrlich’s suit.

Copyright 2022 KLCC. To see more, visit KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. He is a 20-year reporter who has worked at NPR, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including three Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award in 2012.