San Diego Police Tell Man That His Cellphone Is A Weapon And Arrest Him After He Refuses To Stop Filming Them In Public

We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue. Usually police claim that it is a crime to film them. San Diego police have been videotaped with a new and even more disturbing angle on these cases. Police officers were videotaped telling Adam Pringle that his cellphone was a weapon and then arresting him.

Pringle was being given a ticket when he began to record their conversation. Officers proceeded to warn him that his cellphone was considered a weapon. Pringle responds by making the obvious statement that “There is no way this could be a weapon…. I am videotaping – I will not turn this off.

The officers proceed to arrest him after he refused to put away his “weapon.” Pringle is heard saying “You may not touch my cell phone. No you will not… no, no.” Pringle spent all night in jail and was booked for resisting arrest and obstructing an officer. It was clearly an abusive arrest.

Unfortunately, such arrests rarely result in discipline for the officers even after the charges are thrown out. This video however has received a great deal of attention on the Internet and it will be interesting to follow the response from the SDPD.

38 thoughts on “San Diego Police Tell Man That His Cellphone Is A Weapon And Arrest Him After He Refuses To Stop Filming Them In Public

  1. The Tincture of Sunshine is the best medicine for this kind of thing. A kind of public shaming. Post their pictures and the story. Pressure is the only thing that has a chance of working. When talking with new hire officers, I always feel them out on what they think about people videotaping whatever it is they are doing in the course of performing duties as a peace officer. Thankfully, most don’t have any problem with it. I always pull out my cell phone and ask what that black dot is on the front. Of course, they know it is a lens. I remind them that every-15-year old in the country has one, and knows how to use it. What many officers don’t know is that video can be uploaded in real time. If the camera is seized and erased, the video is long gone, thanks to the Cloud, and technology such as UStream and Livestream.

    Yeah, the cell phone is a weapon all right. A weapon against abusive or illegal behavior.

    I see that dash cams are becoming increasingly popular in the US. Some insurance companies are giving discounts.

  2. The cellphone’s a weapon. The kid is the attacker. The cop is sworn to protect and defend the constitution.

    Find the truthful statement. Tougher than you think?

  3. Woody Guthrie used to have a sign on his guitar, it read:
    This Machine Kills Fascists

    perhaps some needs to sell stickers like that to apply to cellphones

  4. I suppose one can view truth a weapon….. Seems like some have issue with a truth other than theirs…..

    As pointed out by OS most any kid knows how to up load a video which is stored in most clouds….

  5. Police officers have been writing there own laws for quite a while now. The first police made law of which I am aware is the failure to respect charge. the elements are a movable feast depending on the officer and his or ner mood. This charge is particularly helpful in cowing the citizens as it often morphs into obstruction, disorderly and resisting arrest with little or no effort on the part of the officer or, most importantly, the person charged. The crime described in the post, use of a video camera or similar device to film a law breaking officer, is a particularly heinous one as it combines getting the truth on record and not treating the officer as if he is is a god.

    It is way past time for police officers in this country to stop watching cop shows on TV that teach them that the ends justify the means and that cops who abuse citizens are really heros doing their job and to open their Constituion and visit a few classes on the limits of their power. I understand these may now be discussions of obsolete concepts like the Constituion and the Geneva Convention but it might help righ the balance. One other thing, these people and there supervisors should not only be FIRED they should be PROSECUTED if at all possible. This is really getting out of hand.

  6. I think calling a cell phone a weapon is a bit of a stretch, the thing is no one likes being filmed doing there job.
    What really strikes me is the childish behavior of the guy with the cell phone. We have the same problem here in the UK.

  7. Every American has Constitutional Rights. Our forefathers saw the need for and tried to guarantee our GOD given inalienable rights. But over the past 150 years law enforcement at all levels has learned how to abuse these rights. Many law enforcement agencies and officers now say, “Yes you have constitutional rights. But can you afford them?”. The law enforcement officer acting with immunity looses nothing by violating a citizen rights and even placing the citizen in jail. This officer knows most Americans cannot raise $1000 in emergency funds for life events such as an auto failure or medical emergency treatment. The chances that the abused citizen will have the funds to hire an attorney and enforce their Constitutional Rights are very slim. Recently in Parker County, Texas an appointed judge would only allow attorneys to file documents with his court. A citizen filed a petition for relief. The judge charged him with criminal contempt alleging that he was practicing law without a license. This citizen spent $18,000 trying to enforce his right to Petition the Government. A right guaranteed under both United States and Texas Constitutions. The expense cost the citizen his home and his livelihood. It cost the judge nothing. A citizen has rights only when he or she can afford them.

  8. Unfortunately, Texas basically has no real criminal justice system and as long as the GOP runs things, and voters keep the corrupt judges and DAs in power, nothing will change unless you can afford it. The only way I can see to change it is for the Democratic Party to get back in power. As long as the GOP has free run the Constitution is a dead letter in Texas. At least it is better than when I first moved to Texas. The cops were actual criminals, not just abusive.

  9. America’s increasingly Nazified Police….. Filming you with our cell phones has already been declared legal…. If you’re worried about being filmed… maybe you should try stopping YOUR own illegal activities~~~~~~

  10. The cops are right. The camera is a weapon. It is a weapon in the war on police brutality and abuse of badge. The First Amendment Right to Petition The Government For Redress of Grievances is the highest prong on the First Amendment totem pole. The camera is the medium to get the message to the city council, to the state legislature, to the public. The medium is the message.

  11. If more lawyers would take up Constitutional law when they are in law school learning how to be divroce lawyers and bankruptcy lawyers then perhaps the profession would gain some dignity. Learn some civil rights laws you schmuckos, there is money in it. Lots of money. If money does not get your attention, nothing will you lazy group of dimwits. This would be a great case to take on and make a lot of money in attorneys fees. Hundreds and hundreds of billable hours at a high rate of say $450 an hour if you are up to speed.

  12. Barking dog may have it right. How can the officer think it was a weapon and tell him to put it away? Later he tells the victim’s buddy if the victim would have handed it to him so he could see it was not a weapon it would have been ok. So let’s deconstruct this. Cop thinks it is weapon and wants you to get closer and point it at him so he can see it is not a weapon? Now had he said, place it on the ground so I can check it out to determine it is not a weapon, that would be more plausible than saying put it away.

  13. Incredible. So they can outlaw smoking in the open air in public? That is truly bizarre, and then claim that you have no rights to film cops doing their job? I guess the next move is to ban smoking in your car, home, or any other place you are. I wonder if they will raise it to a felony next.

    I hope the poor guy sees the remarks of the so called defense attorney, and does NOT hire this fool. I think he needs a remedial course in constitutional law and he might want to contact Prof Turley to see if he has a weekend course he could take as a refresher.

  14. These cops should be disciplined. They do not know the law and violated this guy’s rights Outrageous behavior.

  15. I don’t agree with the officer’s assessment but this is what is meant by him saying it “could be converted into a weapon.”

    There have been incidents where cell phones were converted into .22 caliber zip guns. There was a company that made their concealable firearms but I believe, though my memory is not certain, that this company was shut down. It is a common training lesson where cell phone guns are the topic where new officers are instructed to be suspcious of any objects recovered from an arrestee because they might have been converted into weapons. I have seen a lot of such conversions and it is true that criminals will carry these conversions.

    Yet, in this incident it is unreasonable to assume the cell phone used by the young man was such a weapon. Furthermore, one cannot assume that every cell phone is a weapon.

    It is especially telling that the cell phone in this case was not a weapon because the backup officer standing to the left of the cameraman did not display any concern for what was going on during the filming. The backup officer’s role is to protect the officer who is writing out the ticket, that is from the suspect and anyone around him. The 90 degree stance is clearly indicative of this. No backup officer would have allowed the suspect to do anything threatening to the primary officer.

    It is clear the primary officer objected to the filming and crafted the law to arrest the cameraman for contempt of cop.

  16. When the officer sees that he’s being videoed, he tells him “put that away please.” If the officer really thought that the phone was a gun or a taser, how would that be a proper response? The your phone may be a weapon seems clearly pretextual to me.

  17. No one caught the obvious corollary here – if someone is brandishing a weapon, a police officer has the right to use lethal force to prevent that person from using the weapon.

    This officer would have had the subjective right to shoot this guy. Hows that for due process.

  18. Super-soakers can be converted into flamethrowers, too, but we don’t outlaw them. What’s next… arrests for buying a bag of fertilizer because it might be converted into a bomb? When my father was a cop, we were called citizens. Now we’re all civilians. If you live in a town of more than 20,000 people, the cops insist on a SWAT team (to serve low level drug warrants, mostly) and a Lenco Bearcat. It’s hard to remember a time when every cop in the country wasn’t in fear for his life on a full time basis. Cowards and bullies.

    You want some respect? Try giving some first.

  19. Frankly, the reminder regarding Woody Guthrie was excellent! With enough tweets and trackbacks your sticker idea (or iPhone covers- a serious niche market) could make you some money maybe if you had he means of production. That aside, I’d cross-stitch- or decopage that against a gaming image type background- on a phone cover.

  20. smh@ the point of some things being missed here. the obvious blatant abuse of civilian citizens by those supposedly hired to protect and serve. not even mentioning the fact most are now hired straight out of the military… everything happening right now. from the false flag shootings, abuse by leos and po lie tricksters. isnt so they can grab whats left of our rights and freedoms those were taken long ago we were just allowed to think we had them. the real object of all happening now is THE ELITES PROVOKING A UPRISING. they arent going to attack. everything going on is designed is to cause humanity to attack. so they can retaliate. promising those who have yet to face the truth. that once the war is over they will find perfect peace. because those who do not know or dont want to know. still for some unfathomable reason still believe in the corporation formerly known as the government

  21. Career criminals do make cell phones that can conceal a knife or stun gun. The police officer did the right thing. He did it for his safety and the safety of those around him.

  22. Photography is not a crime is a website that also has this story. In fact they have stories almost every day of police arresting people for recording them, or erasing video. I suggest anyone who wants to learn more about these cases to check out that site or copblock

  23. Barkin Dog, “constitutional law” is studying what the Supremes say the Constitution means, not studying the Constitution itself.

  24. We ran a childsnatcher (ChildProtectiveServices) socialist “worker” off with a camcorder. When she saw it, she told her supervisor on her cell phone that “they” (we) had a camcorder and her super told her to “terminate the interview” and to leave immediately.
    It’s getting so that when the cop steals the camphone, and will not return it, his (her) act is on the Internet and ten other cameras see what the cop did. If the cop stomps the phone, the view of the cop’s heel coming down is seen worldwide.
    All they understand is sue ’em, sue ’em, sue ’em. Eventually their Risk Management will raise their agency’s “contributions” (insurance premiums) so high that they will be transferred to another jurisdiction.

  25. Another ploy is for the cops to “impound the camphone as evidence.” Yeah, evidence of their misconduct (crimes).
    Good cops don’t fear cameras. They know that the camera will exonerate them of false accusations of misconduct.
    Guns concealed in camphones? How about the danger that the arrestee has a bomb in his scrotum?

  26. This same Officer Reinhold gave me a ticket for walking against a red light in PB. He was VERY unprofessional, rude and definitely abused his authority as a peace officer. I would agree that Reinhold does NOT deserve his badge.

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