There is a controversy in Simi Valley, California where a police officer refused to take the statement on a car accident of a man who wanted to videotape their conversation. While the officer in the video below acknowledges the right of the citizen to videotape, Simi Valley police officer Corey Baker states that he is not going to allow the man to effectively portray him as causing some violation by filming him. While the officer cannot refuse to take a statement on this basis, the man in the video (identified as Jeff Knapp) struck me as highly rude in his encounter with both the other driver and the officer.
Knapp is shown on the videotape videotaping the other driver while yelling objections to what he is telling the police on the line. I thought Knapp was way out of line in his interruptions and taunts. He then proceeded to videotape the officer in their conversation. I can understand why the officer found this off-putting. It is difficult to speak with someone who has a camera pointed in your face. However, refusing to take his account of the accident is to punish him for videotaping — protected right.
This is the type of poor behavior that could undermine the recently recognized right of citizens to videotape. This video could be used to show that videotaping presents an impediment to police trying to do their job because Knapp did not have the simply decency to lower the camera. Officers could claim that such filming denies them the ability to fully evaluate the condition and sobriety of individuals involved in accidents. Knapp could have still audiotaped the conversation without sticking a camera in the face of the officer who is trying to speak with him.
I believe Baker was wrong, but I also believe that Knapp and other needs to use these rights in a civil and mature way. Now, the incident has caused Baker more heat after it was learned that he made more in overtime than he did in base salary in 2012 — leading some to claim that he is “milking” the system.
Kudos: Michael Blott