Upper Darby business owner charged following alleged assault after run-in with FOX 29 news crew

Upper Darby, PA (WTXF) - An Upper Darby business owner has been charged with harassment and assault after a run-in with a Fox 29 news crew.  And much of the alleged assault was caught on video.

On Tuesday, Fox 29 reporter Chris O’Connell and photographer Dave Eitzen were reporting on a story on pothole repairs for the next night's newscast. The crew had just finished interviewing a woman who had her car severely damaged after driving over a pot hole in Southwest Philadelphia. The woman’s car was towed to Modern Car Crafters on the 7000 Block of West Chester Pike in Upper Darby.

The crew received permission from the car owner to go over to the garage and take photos of the damaged car for their report.

When the crew arrived to the parking lot of Modern Car Crafters, the owner of the business identified as Peter Kathapoulis told the crew to leave the premises immediately without asking why they were there.

 

Just leaving Upper Darby police station after giving a statement to detectives about what happened to photog Dave Eizen...

Posted by Chris O'Connell Fox 29 on Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The crew had not yet gotten out of the truck. The crew left the premises and parked in a parking lot next door where they got permission from the property owner to stay.

 

Kathapoulis immediately followed the crew to the neighboring property telling O’Connell and Eizen to leave. He repeatedly told the crew he owned the property at 7039 West Chester Pike. A check of Delaware County property records finds Kathapoulis does not own that property.  What happened next was all captured on video during the 2 minute incident.

 

In an attempt to force the crew to leave the business owner proceeded to grab some nearby tree branches and vines and raked them across O’Connell's head and face.  Kathapoulis then unsuccessfully tried to grab the television camera from Eitzen’s arms.  The crew immediately called for a passersby to help and dialed 911.  Kathapoulis is then seen on camera spitting in the face of O’Connell as he was talking to 911 dispatchers about the incident. O’Connell posted a short clip of the spitting incident on his Facebook page. He is quoted as saying they were “just out doing our job”

After giving statements to police, Kathapoulis was arrested and charged by Upper Darby Police.  The video of the incident was requested by law enforcement and is now considered evidence in the case. 

In a separate media report, Kathapoulis was quoted saying the Fox 29 crew uttered “racial remarks.  A Fox spokesperson said those allegations are “absolutely untrue”.

Kathpoulis was charged with simple assault, 2 counts of harassment and disorderly conduct.  He was released on $30,000 bail.

A hearing on the case is also scheduled for March 14.

Kathapoulis, from Media is a former St. Joseph’s University baskeball player. He is also facing 16 separate charges in Delaware County for theft and receiving stolen property
 

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