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. The latest case comes from Baltimore, Maryland. Maryland has been previously cited in abuses by police in this area as we discussed. In this case, the officer summed up too many such cases by telling the witness simply “you have not rights.” That simplifies things wonderfully for police and citizens alike.
The confrontation occurred in Towson after an altercation arose between Sergio Gutierrez, a college student, and an officer. As the Baltimore police arrested two people Gutierrez began videotaping. An irate officer then confronted him and Gutierrez asserted that he was within his rights. The officer responds “Get it out of my face.” The citizen responds that “I have my rights” to which the officer proclaims “You have no rights.” When the man continues to record, the officer barks at him: “Do you see the police presence here? Do you see us all? We’re not [expletive] around. Do you understand? Do not disrespect us and do not not listen to us. Now walk away and shut your [expletive] mouth or you’re going to jail, do you understand?” After returning a third time, the officer appears to grab Gutierrez who protests “I thought I had freedom of speech here.” The officer then announces “You don’t. You just lost it.” t
The citizen did not file a complaint, which is odd. The officer clearly acted abusively and then falsely stated that the citizen was committing a crime. He also threatened arrest for a protected act. This type of misconduct occurs not only because of a failure to train officers but a failure to discipline officers when they abuse citizens who are acting within their constitutional rights.