Things got heated at a Donald Trump rally at Radford University in Virginia when a member of the United States Secret Service detail grabbed Time photographer Christopher Morris by the neck and threw him to the ground, CNN reports. According to Morris, he stepped "18 inches" outside the press pen to a get a better shot, which didn't sit well with the agent, who told him to back up. Morris replied, "fuck you," and that's when things got physical. Morris says he didn't touch the agent until "the very end," while the agent holds that Morris put his hands on him, making him "permitted to do the takedown." At the time of the incident Morris was surrounded by fellow members of the media, so the whole thing was captured on video.
Secret Service agent choke slams reporter pic.twitter.com/jdsHOlylSB— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) February 29, 2016
An Instagram video, which has now been removed, shows the guard throttling Morris in the bottom half of the screen, although it's unclear who touched who first. (Mashable created a GIF from the video.)
According to the Washington Examiner, the whole mess began when Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted Trump's speech. Dozens of African-American students reportedly stood up and began heckling Trump, at which point Morris moved sideways to get a better view.
Chris Morris gets thrown out after pushing a member of security to fight for positioning to take a photo. pic.twitter.com/EnoAiOYQ4H— Bryan Anderson (@bryanranderson) February 29, 2016
Here's moments prior. The reporter says "f*ck you" — that's when it got physical pic.twitter.com/h9K2wIbEWQ— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) February 29, 2016
Morris, who's been covering the campaign for Time for months, later gave his account of exactly what happened. He says he put his hand on the agent's throat toward the end of their encounter in order to demonstrate what was done to him.
Time photog Chris Morris tells me how he was grabbed and taken down at Trump rally pic.twitter.com/XKDJarpXda— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) February 29, 2016
The Trump campaign released a statement clarifying that it was a United States Secret Service member, and not a member of Trump's security unit, who was involved. The Secret Service also issued a statement saying it's "aware of the incident" and that its "local field office is working with their law enforcement partners to determine the exact circumstances that led up to this incident. The Secret Service will provide further details as warranted once additional facts surrounding the situation are known."
Trump campaign statement on altercation between photographer and Secret Service agent in press pen at event in VA. pic.twitter.com/oiG3vw8EhL— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) February 29, 2016
For its part, Time magazine released a statement saying it "has contacted the U.S. Secret Service to express concerns about the level and nature of the agent’s response." and that "Morris has also expressed remorse for his part in escalating the confrontation." According to the Magazine, Morris is expected to return to work soon.
"Are we having a good time?" Trump reportedly asked his audience after Morris had been escorted out. That depends on whom you ask, Mr. Trump.
This post has been updated throughout.