Veteran journalist Daniel Ralph Heyman, 54, was arrested Tuesday for simply asking Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet, a question regarding the American Health Care Act.
Heyman walked alongside Price and senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway as they entered the West Virginia state capitol. Heyman held up his phone to Price, while repeatedly asking the secretary whether domestic violence would be considered a preexisting condition under the AHCA bill, The Washington Post reported. “He didn’t say anything,” Heyman said in a news conference. “So I persisted.”
While walking, an officer pulled Heyman aside and arrested him.
According to the Associated Press, a criminal complaint reported that Heyman was “yelling” questions at the two. Heyman was ultimately charged with willful disruption of governmental processes, a misdemeanor, and later released on $5,000 bail.
However, Heyman saw things differently, telling the Post he was fulfilling his role as a journalist. “This is my job, this is what I’m supposed to do,” Heyman said, noting that he believed the question deserved an answer.
Heyman additionally said that his press pass was clearly visible and that no member of law enforcement informed him he was in the wrong place prior to his arrest.
Tim DiPiero, Heyman’s lawyer, told the Associated Press that his client’s case was “highly unusual,” adding, “I’ve never had anyone get in trouble criminally for talking too loud. We just don’t understand why he got arrested. It just seems way over the top.”
Lark Corbeil, chief executive and founder of Public News Service, the service Heyman was working for at the time of his arrest, told the Post that Heyman’s arrest took the organization “very much by surprise.” He added, “From what we can understand, he did nothing out of the ordinary. He was doing what any journalist would normally do, calling out a question and trying to get an answer.”