The Sentinel respects and appreciates the risks police are exposed to every day. They are in dangerous situations 24/7. However, we don’t want to be blind to arrests being made of people whose only crime might have been to videotape them.
We’ve listed a few incidents here but, by no means, do they prove it is a pattern though some news outlets believe there is a pattern.
One interesting legal battle concerns the right to record and/or film proceedings when police decide to stop and talk to you.
The Sun-Sentinel reported the case of a 33-year-old Brandy Berning who was stopped by a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy for entering an HOV lane at the wrong time. She began taping in full-view when the sheriff told her “I have to tell you, you just committed a felony.”
After she expressed her surprise, he said “Give me your phone.”
She resisted, saying she knows her rights.
The sheriff claimed the phone is evidence. He then said, “You’re going to end up in jail unless you hand me that phone. Tonight.”
Berning did spend the night in jail. She claims that the sheriff grabbed her wrist and sprained it.
That was last March and no charges were filed. She has decided to sue.
Listen to the video:
Then there is this case from last week which is a little fuzzy since there was a confrontation that put the police in danger. However, the officer wanted to deprive the young man of the right to tape. The Baltimore police department did not back the officer up and he has been put on voluntary desk duty.
College student, Sergio Guttierrez, was threatened with arrest, seemingly, for taping the police.
The full video gives a more complete story. Click the link.
Guttierrez said he was shoved and threatened with arrest. His friend said he was arrested because his friend – Guttierrez – was taping. He said it was guilt by association. Listen to that story on this link.
There are a number of other cases: one in Leland, another in Brevard County, and then there is the case reported by Jonathan Turley of a man in California who was arrested for videotaping them in public. They shot his dog when it came to his aid. Check out the Turley article on this link. The police on one hand have to be safe and the dog was menacing but did the officer have to shoot the dog?
Warning! This is a very unfortunate and upsetting video. The dog’s death is recorded here:
What if the man resisted? Could he have been shot?
Click this link to read the ABC News story about the pattern they are seeing.
What do you think? Do we need to worry or are these isolated cases?