April 20, 2019 10:01:36 PM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
Managing editor Zack Plair was arrested in The Dispatch newsroom on misdemeanor charges Friday morning.
Plair, of Starkville, was charged with disorderly conduct and simple assault by threat Friday for an incident during a planned interview at Trotter Convention Center with Trotter director Rogena Bonner.
Plair had an appointment with Bonner on April 9 for an interview regarding rental agreements at the city-run facility. During the course of the interview, Plair took out his cell phone to take photographs of some of the documents, and was told by Bonner that he couldn't take the photos. Plair answered that he could take photos, as the documents were public record.
Bonner then called security and said she would call the police. Plair stood up and "raised his voice," telling her to call Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton, according to a Columbus Police Department report on the incident. Plair then left Bonner's office but remained in the building until police arrived. Another city employee who was witness to the incident waited with Plair for the police.
Plair visited the Columbus Police Department April 11 in a personal capacity to receive copies of the report taken at the scene and was told he would have to wait seven days. A copy he received Thursday, which he gave to The Dispatch, says Bonner told police Plair "refused to leave the property." Plair told both the police and a Dispatch reporter that he left Bonner's office but stayed in a common area to speak with police when they arrived.
The report does not indicate the parties had physical contact or that Plair said anything other than, "Call Fred Shelton," after Bonner said she would call the police.
Plair was released from Lowndes County Adult Detention Center on his own recognizance.
Dispatch publisher Peter Imes confirmed in a memo to employees Friday afternoon that Plair is remaining as managing editor.
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