State Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, apologized Wednesday afternoon for his actions after he confronted a reporter earlier in the day in the state Legislative Building in Raleigh.
"It was an unfortunate circumstance," Lowe said by telephone. "I apologize for anything I have done."
Joe Killian, an investigative reporter for the left-leaning N.C. Policy Watch, said he was covering the aftermath of the N.C. House vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the state budget Wednesday morning when he heard screaming from behind a closed door, followed by a shout for police assistance.
Killian said he saw Lowe leaving the room with State Sens. Floyd McKissick Jr., D-Durham, and Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake, N.C.
Policy Watch reported that Lowe approached Killian when the reporter began filming with his phone.
Killian posted video footage of the incident to YouTube. In it, Lowe can be heard asking, “What are you doing with your camera?”
“I’m a journalist,” Killian said before Lowe grabbed at his hand to snatch his phone, N.C. Policy Watch reported.
Lowe is the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
After a brief struggle, Killian said, Lowe threw the phone across the room and walked away.
Details about who was involved in the closed-door screaming and the call for police help were not immediately available.
Lowe said in an interview Wednesday afternoon that he did not break the law in the confrontation with the reporter.
"I haven't accosted anyone," Lowe said. "And it's an internal matter."
Lowe said he spoken with the N.C. General Assembly Police Department about the incident. Killian also said he spoke to the legislative police about the matter.
Chief Martin Brock of the General Assembly Police Department, said that his agency hasn't determined whether charges will be filed in the case. Brock declined to comment further.
"I haven't been able to talk to (Killian)," Lowe said. "I would love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with the gentleman. At some point, we will be able to talk so I can apologize to him personally."
Lowe said he believes he has had a good relationship with the press for several years.
Killian also made a statement about Wednesday morning's incident.
“What happened today isn’t just an assault on me,” N.C. Policy Watch quoted Killian as saying. “It’s an assault on the free press.
"Any North Carolinian should be able to visit the General Assembly without being assaulted," Killian said. "Working journalists, now more than ever, have to be able to do their jobs there without fear of assault or destruction of their professional equipment. Representatives of the people of North Carolina should understand that.”
Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue also issued a statement.
“Based on the accounts reported to me, I see Senator Lowe’s actions as wholly unacceptable," Blue told N.C. Policy Watch. "I will do everything in my capacity as the leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus to see that it is never repeated.”