Officer Seizes iPad and Threatens Arrest After Being Filmed in Public

This is yet another video of a citizen confronting a police officer about his taking her iPad because she was using it to film him in the course of a stop or arrest. The officer tells her that she can pick it up tomorrow and that she is risking an arrest by continuing to confront him.

What I found the most interesting about this video is that the officer is citing the fact that this is a public area as the basis for threatening arrest for the woman yelling and disturbing the peace. It is the very fact that it is public that gives her the right to film so long as she is not physically interfering with the stop or arrest.

The officer does not explain what authority allows him to seize a citizen’s property and force her to drive down to the police station to retrieve it. It sounds more like a parental scolding than police action.

25 thoughts on “Officer Seizes iPad and Threatens Arrest After Being Filmed in Public

  1. Simply trying to cover his own behind in case he got rough with the person he was arresting. These clowns should be fired when they seize cameras that are filming their wrong doing but then it’s obvious that too many police officer think they are above the law.

  2. Since I am not a lawyer, is there any legal recourse to sue the cop for confiscating somebody’s property illegally? I think that the woman should be able to cost the city a lot of money for not keeping their thugs in line and following the laws.

  3. Here’s a classic case of two people completely lost on how to handle the situation. The officer has no business confiscating the Ipad as most everyone will agree. The owner has picked the wrong place, manner, and time to confront the officer so we have a standoff. The citizen will always lose in that situation. The better course is to ask the officer to get a supervisor to the scene and make her case to a more detached third party. If the officer won’t call the supervisor the citizen should call and request one. Even if the supervisor won’t help you’ve bolstered your case by being reasonable and provided yourself another witness who is likely not as emotionally involved.

  4. “The officer does not explain what authority allows him to seize a citizen’s property and force her to drive down to the police station to retrieve it.”

    Cops have the authority to act like a dick whenever they want. You didn’t know?

  5. Politicians have adjusted to the ubiquity of cameras. At some point cops are going to have to learn to live w/ it.

  6. I’m sick of you people trying to exercise your rights or thinking you should be able to exercise your rights. This is all going to the NSA and your local prosecutor will be notified. When a cop says stop, you obey! Remember, you don’t have Miranda rights or free speech until a cop, a city attorney or judge says you do.

  7. Good advice Mespo. This cop is just covering his backside and has no legal authority to confiscate a camera. This cop should be looking for a new profession.

  8. I wish I had more context here. Why was she interjecting herself into a situation that appears not to have involved her? She absolutely has the right to record it, There is a woman still taking pictures while the conversation is ongoing about the Ipad, I can’t tell if that is the woman whose Ipad was taken or not so he has not stopped the filming, at least during that portion of the video.
    I get the feeling both were wrong here, the officer and the woman.
    That being said the saddest thing was when I saw the post title in my email I almost didn’t come to read it thinking well, this is no longer news because it is happening so often.

  9. When these kinds of incidents occur, it does not seem to register with officers there may very well be additional cameras recording the scene. Obviously, someone else is making a cell phone video as he waves the confiscated iPad around. He wants to keep his actions from being recorded, and ends up the star of a viral video. Not very smart.

  10. The officer has now been identified as Randall Courson. Here is a link to an update on the story, with a statement by Suzanne Matteo. She signed up for the township’s Facebook page and posted a message. This is part of it:

    I told officer Courson that there were personal images of me breastfeeding my daughter on that iPad and I pleaded to get it back from him. He told “it’s my iPad now. You ain’t getting it back”. I have many witnesses that. When a women I never met before who saw i was visibly upset came to my defense and asked Courson to give it to her because of the images personal in nature he told her that he “just might have to have a look at them”.

    This link is to Carlos Miller’s web page, Photography is Not a Crime.. He has her full statement from the Facebook page.

  11. Some additional information for those who do not follow the link: The woman indicates she has notes on the IPAD concerning misconduct, and was taking notes in a township meeting when the IPAD was taken from her. She also indicates that there is an indication that the IPAD may have been used to access her e-mail while in law enforcement hands.

  12. What blhlls said. Be sure to go to the Photography is Not a Crime web site I linked to. Just guessing, but I am willing to bet her message has been removed from the township’s Facebook page.

    This kind of incident is a really good reason to have the app which sends your files somewhere else in real time. Second, if you are going to carry your digital device or laptop around, have strong passwords and encryption if possible. Just sayin’.

  13. The iPad was taken because she was using it to document a PUBLIC meeting at the township building (which is allowed under PA Sunshine Law, etc). They apparently think that illegal seizure was allowed as she did not “notify” them prior to when she did, but there was a court case in PA which said that only when video or audio equipment (when it used to be bulky) would interfere with other people do they require permission so they can be given a place in the meeting room to avoid blocking other people. If the iPad was blocking people behind her, she would have to move or lower it. And if she caused a disturbance, they could ask her to leave. Since she did neither, they legally had no right to tell her to leave much less seize private property. The officer also screwed up by not properly documenting the property and providing a receipt. Also, he apparently went thru the stuff on it so this is really screwed up…..

  14. Chicago Police: Tape Us, Get Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison
    Jason Mick (Blog) – January 24, 2011 2:25 PM

    Contrast this state of affairs with the fact that Chicago police officers have one of the most stained reputations for police brutality. According to a 2007 CNN report, 10,000 complaints — many of them involving brutality and assault — were filed between 2002 and 2004.

    Along with laws against video taping police in public, the measures against video and audio taping police encounters seem like a concerted effort to chain the hands of the citizenry and prevent them from reporting misconduct and wrongdoing. Without direct evidence, claims are often discarded and laughed out of court.

    The Illinois branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.) fought the law — it has sued the state of Illinois twice — but the law won. Its case, which asserted that the eavesdropping law violates the First Amendment and hinders citizens from monitoring the public behavior of police officers and other officials, has been thrown out of court twice.

    Mark Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said his organization cheered the decision, stating that he “absolutely supports” throwing those who tape police officers behind bars.

    He complains that citizens monitoring police activities for wrongdoing might “affect how an officer does his job on the street.”

  15. Yep citizens monitoring police activities might well effect how an officer does he job. He may have to do it professionally and appropriately and within the confines of the law.

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