An NBC News booking producer in New York named Irene Byon told Kenosha police in a body cam video that the network was trying to “see where people involved in the trial are positioned” when an Atlanta producer was accused of following the Kyle Rittenhouse jury van.
In the body cam video, the officer asked James Morrison if he’s from Wisconsin. He says he’s from Atlanta and works as a producer for NBC. “I was trying to see…I was being called by New Yor, going maybe these people are who you need to follow. I don’t know. I was trying to…just do what they told me to do.”
New York told you to follow a vehicle? asked the officer.
“Yes,” said Morrison. He said he wasn’t trying to talk to anybody.
He then called NBC producer Irene Byon in New York on his cell phone, and handed it to the officer, who recorded the conversation on his body camera. “We’re trying to figure out what’s going on, why you have a reporter or producer following vehicles out here?” the officer asked Byon.
Byon, in a statement loaded with ums, explained she’s a booking producer with NBC News. “We were just trying to respectfully um just trying to see if it’s um if it’s possible, um, to find any leads um about the case. And so we were just keeping our distance just to see um where people involved in the trial are positioned. By no means were we trying to get into contact with any of the jury members or whoever is in the car. We were just trying to see where key players in the trial would be at.”
Asked if she knew who was in the vehicle Morrison was following, Byon said: “We just had our people positioned at different areas in the courthouse. We were just following um different…” The officer responded that police would ask them to “not do that. This is huge.”
The police report says the officer was instructed to follow members of the jury to a predetermined location so they could be brought to their vehicles. The unmarked vehicle was not equipped with emergency lights or siren.
The officer observed the vehicle begin to follow the unmarked Rittenhouse jury van.
The vehicle was a city block behind the jurors.
The vehicle proceeded through an intersection with a red traffic light, which was the violation that resulted in the traffic stop.
Here is the police report and citation:
What Byon told the police in the body cam video shows NBC wasn’t exactly forthcoming in a statement following the incident.
“Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation,” said an NBC News spokesperson said to Law and Crime.
“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. We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation.”
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder banned MSNBC from court after the incident. “The matter is under further investigation at this point,” Schroeder said at the time, speaking from the bench.
“I have instructed that no one from MSNBC news will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial. This is a very serious matter, and I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is, but absolutely, it would go without much thinking that someone who is following a jury bus — that is a very — it’s an extremely serious matter — and will be referred to the proper authorities for further action.”
Continued Schroeder: “We’ve received a report this morning from the Kenosha Police Department that last evening… a person who identified himself as a James J. Morrison, who claimed that he is a producer with NBC News — employed by MSNBC — and under the supervision of a person named Irene Byon… they pulled him over and inquired about what was going on and he gave that information.”
At the time, Kenosha PD gave this statement:
“Last night a person who is alleging to be affiliated with a national media outlet was briefly taken into custody and issued several traffic related citations. Police suspect this person was trying to photograph jurors. This incident is being investigated much further. There was no breach of security regarding the jury, nor were there any photographs obtained. This investigation remains active and open, no further information.”