Photo by Gustavo Castillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Gustavo Castillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A Los Angeles Times photographer was arrested in Simi Valley while transmitting photographs of former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s funeral motorcade.

Ricardo DeAratanha, 65, was arrested on suspicion of resisting and obstructing a law enforcement officer, a misdemeanor, according to a citation issued by Simi Valley Police.

Deputy Chief David Livingstone said police responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle near Roosevelt Court and Wood Ranch Parkway, about three- quarters of a mile downhill from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where a public viewing was being held for the former first lady. DeAratanha had parked by the side of the road to use his laptop computer to transmit his photos, according to The Times.

Livingstone said DeAratanha refused to identify himself and balked at providing identification, The Times reported Thursday.

“Had he cooperated, we would have had a different outcome,” Livingstone reportedly said.

Mark Werksman, an attorney for the photographer, disputed the police account, saying DeAratanha provided “multiple unassailable press credentials,” including identification cards issued by The Times and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The officers “kept asking him for more ID,” Werksman told The Times. “Then they ordered him out of the car when they weren’t satisfied with his answer.”

At some point, Werksman said, the photographer — who is Brazilian and tanned — suggested the officers were harassing him because of his ethnicity, and “they resented that he would question their motives. …They swarmed him and threw him to the ground and cuffed him.”

Livingstone denied that ethnicity played a role in the incident and said officers were responding to a report of suspicious activity at a “high- security event.” A neighbor had reported that a tarp was partly covering the car and that a man inside was bent over with a cover on his head, he said.

The photographer had been using the tarp to provide shade so he could read the screen of his computer as he transmitted his photos, Werksman said.

After he was arrested, DeAratanha explained to officers that he was a photojournalist, and a commander allowed him to finish sending his photos, Livingstone said.

DeAratanha, who joined The Times in 1989, was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for a sprained elbow, according to The Times.

The Ventura County district attorney’s office has 30 days to decide whether to file charges. DeAratanha is scheduled to be arraigned April 7.

—Staff and wire reports

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