Video: U.S. Marshal Shown Rushing Woman and Smashing Her Cellphone To Stop Her Videotaping A Public Arrest

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 10.50.12 AMWe have another video of a police officer destroying the cellphone of a citizen who is filming an arrest in clear violation of her constitutional rights. New reports indicate that the officer holding an automatic weapon in the videotape below who is seen charging the woman and smashing her phone on the ground is a United States Marshal in California.

The video shows the woman standing out of the way while filming an arrest. She is actually backing up when an officer rushes her, smashes the phone on the ground and then kicks it before walking away. Unfortunately for the officer there was a second person filming and the woman asks “Did you record that?” She did.

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 question is what to do with this officer absent some unknown reason for this assault. I cannot imagine the justification for such conduct. However, if it is as it appears, there is the question of whether this officer should be allowed to retain his position. The level of contempt for the constitutional rights of this woman is shocking. I would be very concerned about the judgment and the level of personal control that would be shown by this officer in other circumstances.

What do you think?

104 thoughts on “Video: U.S. Marshal Shown Rushing Woman and Smashing Her Cellphone To Stop Her Videotaping A Public Arrest”

  1. “Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.”
    – Friedrich Nietzsche

  2. @ JT

    The California ACLU has produced a free smart-phone app that transmits videos of encounters with the police directly to the ACLU, thereby vitiating the seizure or destruction of a cell phone by police:

    “The ACLU in California today released a free smart-phone app that allows people to send cellphone videos of police encounters to the ACLU, automatically—and the ACLU will preserve the video footage, even if the cops seize the phone and delete the video or destroy the phone. The app, ‘Mobile Justice CA,’ works for both iPhones and Android users. It’s available at Apple’s App Store and at Google Play.

    “The app features a large red ‘Record’ button in the middle of the screen. When it’s pressed, the video is recorded on the phone and a duplicate copy is transmitted simultaneously to the ACLU server. When the ‘stop’ button is pressed, a ‘Report’ screen appears, where information about the location of the incident and the people involved can also be transmitted to the ACLU.

    “The video and the information are treated as a request for legal assistance and reviewed by staff members. No action is taken by the ACLU, however, unless an explicit request is made, and the reports are treated as confidential and privileged legal communications. The videos, however, may be shared by the ACLU with the news media, community organizations or the general public to help call attention to police abuse.

    “The app is available in English and Spanish. It includes a ‘Know Your Rights’ page.

    “The value of the Mobile Justice app was dramatized this month in the Los Angeles suburb of South Gate, where a bystander taped cops detaining people in her neighborhood. A second person was recording her, and in that video, a lawman rushes at the first woman, grabs her cell phone, and smashes it on the floor. (sic) The second video ended up on YouTube. (South Gate police later said the officer was not a local cop but rather a deputy US marshal.)”

  3. Who does this idiot us marshal think he is? Just another low paid person on the taxpayers payrol. He is A criminal hiding be hiding behind. A badge.I am a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, served with the First Calvary and US Army’s famed
    FIRST. INFANTRY Div (Blg Red one).he is a Joke.

  4. “As soon as it wakes up we’re going to interview it,” joked one Police Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details about the investigation. “We’ll have to get a police dog to do it.”

  5. Tom, Please keep commenting. I have made some very tough comments about cops here over the past few years. I know cops better than probably anyone here. I know there are some really bad ones, some really good ones, and most fall somewhere in the middle. You know the bell curve, where you fall in the lowest stanine emotionally. You are a skinhead like cop hater. You are embarrassing the other more mainstream cop haters here. So, please keep wiping the spit off your computer and continue to enlighten us w/ your hate. I think you will, more than anything anyone else could say or do, get JT to back off a bit on his cop hating posts. LOL!

  6. Well, Nick, if I’m a cop hater then you must be a boot-licking cop lover who thinks cops can do no wrong. But what I am or what you are doesn’t change a number of facts about police misconduct, the justice system, the prisons, and the politicians that make bad laws that are enforced by cops.

    Perhaps you are just unaware of a lot of things regarding cops and the systems they support. I suppose there was a Bob Schieffer shill for the state in Germany who asked the citizens to walk a mile in Gestapo jackboots – remember, those guys were “just doing their job” too. All for the common good, I guess – like the enlightened SWAT teams in Wisconsin, all great guys doing their job, I’m sure.

    I know the majority of cops are just plain authoritarians like their fellow Americans. I also know they keep silent about the atrocities their more psychotic brothers engage in. I don’t think 2 minutes of Schieffer will change my opinion of cops, or the people who drool over them.

  7. Tom, You are a cop hater, and so are JT and others. You don’t have the savvy to hide your hate. There are bad cops and they need to be prosecuted and/or fired. All Schieffer was saying was the vast majority of cops are good cops. Sorry if that doesn’t comport w/ you and the other haters hate fest. Please feel free to hate on cops. Hopefully, you don’t need one to save your hating ass some day. But, if you do, damn good chance they’ll do their jobs and save your ass anyway. It’s obvious you have no idea what it’s like to be a cop. All Schieffer was saying is that all people should experience what they have to on a daily basis. The “walk in their shoes” adage. That should not be controversial. Take 2 minutes out of your life and watch it on the CBS website, after you clean the spit off of your computer screen.

  8. @ Nick Spinelli

    Is the idea that if cops have to deal with depraved scumbags, they should be allowed to become depraved scumbags themselves?

    It would seem that is pretty much the way the system has operated for decades. The difference between ordinary depraved scumbags and uniformed depraved scumbags is that the uniformed sociopaths can lash out at society with impunity where the ordinary person can be subjected to street justice as the uniformed depraved scumbag acts as judge, jury and executioner.

    Police are trained to make the public fearful of them and between their demeanor and the well publicized assaults/killings by cops, there may come a time when many people will simply shoot any cop that directs his attention at them – it being a simple matter of fear and self-preservation.

    So boo hoo for the boys in blue who wanted to play tough guy in the wars on crime, terrorism and “broken windows” – let them shave their heads like skinhead nazis and go play paintball in the woods to act out their aggressions.

  9. Last Paragraph Correction:

    The statement,

    “Still, decisions by other courts have been clear that people can table police officers in a public setting.”

    should read

    “Still, decisions by other courts have been clear that people can tape police officers in a public setting.”.

    James from Dallas

  10. References:
    1.) Supreme Court Upholds Right to Film Police, Even in Illinois
    2.) Supreme Court Inaction Boosts Right To Record Police Officers

    From the perspective of assault, assault-by-contact, simple assault, assault with bodily injury, and assault with severe bodily injury, how would this assault be any different from that of a domestic violence case? With someone convicted of domestic violence, they lose the right to own or carry a firearm, at least a hand gun or pistol, from what I understand. Should the punishment be any different here. If this Deputy U.S. Marshal, a person of special trust in the community, violated this woman’s 1st Amendment Constitutional civil rights, assaulted this woman, violently robbed this woman of her cell phone and then maliciously damaged that same private property, losing his right to carry his firearm should be on the table. And, if he cannot carry a firearm in the commission of his duties, then he cannot perform the duties required of a Deputy U.S. Marshal, or likely any law enforcement officer for that matter.

    It is interesting that 1st and 7th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals have ruled on this kind of case. The case in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals launched by the ACLU went to the SCOTUS, which refused to hear the appeal decided in favor of the ACLU at the lower level.

    “Now, a fresh Supreme Court decision has declared this to be a violation of the First Amendment, refusing to hear an appeal from Cook County officials to allow prosecution of those recording cops, and instead upholding a lower court decision that resulted from an ACLU lawsuit.” — See Reference 1.

    “The Supreme Court’s refusal to grant certiorari in the case doesn’t necessarily mean the justices endorse the lower court’s ruling. But it does mean that at least six of the current justices weren’t so opposed to the ruling that they felt the case needed to be heard.” — See Reference 2

    Now, I do not know whether the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has heard a similar case. And, if the SCOTUS refuses to hear a case by another U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, does that mean it agrees with the lower court ruling, and that becomes then the law of the land overruling any laws requiring two-party notification before taping video of law enforcement officers? My interpretation would be “not necessarily”. However, my personal view is that this is a 1st Amendment right is paramount here. Additionally, in the case of someone defending against prosecution, it might also be a 14th Amendment right under the equal protection clause in that, if police tape the accused, the accused also has a similar right to tape police in self-defense, to ensure civil rights are protected.

    I am not sure what defense this U.S. Deputy Federal Marshal will provide for his actions. If this Deputy uses the fact that an undercover agent was jeopardized, I am of the opinion that this is not as strong as a 1st Amendment protection, which would defend against potential police abuse and corruption. Such action by the Deputy Marshal would very likely raise a flag with the gang that an undercover agent was among the gang members in the area. This at some level would be a dilemma between law and safety of an undercover officer and taxpayer funded operation. Oppression of political dissidents by law enforcement would be extremely unlikely here, but some have thrown out this theory or idea for consideration. If this U.S. Deputy Federal Marshal did act to protect another undercover officer, this may be a scenario the court has not considered, especially in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Still, decisions by other courts have been clear that people can table police officers in a public setting. This Deputy U.S. Marshal’s actions, in my opinion, were criminal and also violated the civil rights of this civilian woman. On face, this officer should lose his job, be prosecuted criminally for assault and malicious destruction of property, face time behind bars, and be also sued for civil rights violations. I am very interested in how this Deputy U.S. Marshal will excuse his actions, possibly using claims like that woman civilian was obstructing justice, or interfering with the duties of a law enforcement officer, or simply disturbing the peace. I did not note any arrest or detainment of this woman civilian by the Deputy. This leads me to believe his actions or motivations, frustrations were for some other reason, possibly personal, possibly related to other past events, or even possibly to protecting an undercover agent. Is this the kind of person the government wants carrying a firearm, especially an automatic weapon?

    James from Dallas

  11. The quite liberal, but common sense, Bob Schieffer gave a wonderful tribute to cops this past Sunday. Schieffer always has a short editorial @ the end of Face the Nation. Schieffer’s first reporting job was on a police beat in Dallas. He believes all reporters should be required to work that beat to see the depraved people cops have to deal w/ on a daily basis. Schieffer was honest and non PC enough to admit he could not do it. The commentary is going viral. The title is “Don’t forget the good cops.” I sure the hell wish JT would take 2 minutes to watch or read his WISE words. Even better, I would like to see JT hike around the inner city w/ cops and get THE OTHER SIDE of this issue.

  12. isaac,

    I agree with some of what you say and also worry about the hazard of incentivizing antagonizing behavior toward police by attaching a monetary reward to it. There may not be a better option, though, to put pressure on law enforcement to better train the officers.
    However, I cannot agree that

    The woman lost a phone. That’s all.

    What happened to her is simply not adequately characterized by that statement. Hypothetically, imagine that the cop had run up to her, yanked her phone away, threw it down, kicked it, but somehow it had not been damaged and she went and picked it up. By the logic of your statement, nothing would have happened to her. I think the actions of this large, armed, aggressive officer striding up to her and physically wresting her property from her and then destroying it are, ultimately, more important than the damage to the phone (at least, it’s more important before we consider whether or not the officer thought the phone contained evidence of wrongdoing…).

    BTW, we can be pretty certain that if the tables were turned and a non-law-enforcement person had run up to a bothersome cop and done that, that person would be looking at a lot more than a bill for a replacement phone. In this case, the officer won’t even have to cover the cost of the phone out of pocket. Unfortunately, due to qualified immunity, it’s unlikely that the officer will face any real consequence

    At the end of the day, the best remedy available may be attention to these incidents and the ensuing bad publicity, Eventually, someone with political ambitions will worry that this makes him look bad and he may crack down on the bad actors.

  13. “Protecting an undercover officer” requires that level of force? And everyone else can keep on filming? Nice.

  14. Governmental immunity laws needs to be revisited.
    And revised.
    Across the board.
    From the top down.

  15. She had a right under the First Amendment to petition her government for redress of grievances. That includes yakking at the cop and filming him and his pals. This is not legal BS. Otherwise people will resort to redress beyond the law and start shooting at pigs like this from a distance. That would be fine with me. A pig who assaults a woman needs to be beaten within an inch of his wife. No pun intended.

  16. freedomfan

    If you read my post carefully, I stated that she should get a new phone, period. She may or may not flaunt her right to voice her opinion but as far as more than a new phone, nah. The problem here is the cop. He needs to experience financial loss, forced interface with his problem, and to set an example for other cops. The woman lost a phone. That’s all. If she were to be rewarded for her verbal interference, whatever you want to call it, this would simply invite other types to do the same, mining for lawsuits.

  17. Freedom,
    You’re right of course. Cops are supposed to be big boys and girls. A little mouthing off never hurt anyone.

    One of the slowly being lost skills in our society is the ability to ignore people we don’t like or are saying something we don’t agree with.

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