There is another disturbing story involving the police seizure of cameras of a scene of alleged police abuse. The arrest of a homeless man was caught on camera in Antioch, California. The arrest turned violent and some accused the police of abuse on the man who appeared mentally disturbed. Regardless of the merits of those allegations, police then added to the controversy by demanding that witnesses turn over their cameras.
Witnesses said that police officers insisted that all cameras be turned over from those videotaping their conduct. One witness said that he was ordered to erase his video.
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.
Often the violation of the constitutional rights of witnesses are established but there is no meaningful discipline meted out against officers. The most we have seen in many cases is “re-training” or a letter explaining that citizens have such constitutional rights. The lack of discipline reinforces the sense of protection for officers. In the vast majority of cases, citizens are likely not to take the trouble of raising the issue with outside lawyers or civil liberties groups.
The police have not commented on this incident.
Kudos: Michael Blott
41 thoughts on “California Police Accused Of Abusive Arrest And Then Seizing Cellphones Of Witnesses Or Demanding That They Delete Photos”
A federal court magistrate in California held that a probationer who is subject to unannounced searches can videotape the officers during the search: “The location of where the video recording was being made was plaintiff’s place of residence. If a plaintiff has a clearly established constitutional right to record from a public place where the plaintiff has the lawful right to be, a plaintiff surely has such a right in his or her home. There simply is no principled basis upon which to find that although the right to record officers conducting their official duties only extends to duties performed in public, the right does not extend to those performed in a private residence. The public’s interest in ensuring that police officers properly carry out their duties and do not abuse the authority bestowed on them by society does not cease once they enter the private residence of a citizen. To the contrary, there appears to be an even greater interest for such recordings when a police officer’s actions are shielded from the public’s view. Further, there is no reason to believe that plaintiff’s status as a probationer would diminish the public’s interest in how police exercise their authority in a private citizen’s home.”
(case in ED Cal Dist Court)
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