San Diego Cop Thinks You Might Have Turned Your Cell Phone Into A Gun And That 'Officer Safety' Trumps Constitutional Rights
from the convert-your-DSLR-to-an-RPG-in-3-easy-steps!!! dept
We've seen several times before the reticence (a fancy $20 word for "antipathy") many law enforcement officers have towards being recorded while on the job. They don't seem to mind cameras they control (even though those too have proven problematic -- but fixable), but if the average citizen starts "taping" an encounter, much ado is made about the impropriety (or illegal-ness) of the citizen's actions.
We've seen all of this before. But this one tops those stories. This is one of those has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed events. Fortunately, it involves a functioning camera installed in a surprisingly dangerous cell phone.
San Diegan Adam Pringle was minding his own business illegally smoking a cigarette in a public area (I know -- this falls under the "California Is Ridiculous" heading) when he was approached by Officer Reinhold, who then proceeded to cite him for outdoor smoking.
Pringle decided to whip out his Samsung and record the encounter. At that point, things went from bad to worse to surreal.
It all seemed pretty civil until the cop writing the citation told him to stop recording, which Pringle refused to do.
"Phones can be converted into weapons …. look it up online," the cop told him.
When Pringle tried to talk sense into the cop, the cop slapped the phone out of his hand where it fell onto the boardwalk and broke apart.
The other cop then pounced on him, slamming him down on the boardwalk where he ended up with a laceration on his chin.
Read that again. (Or watch the video.) Officer Reinhold wants Pringle to shut off the camera in his phone because, no shit, a cell phone can be turned into a gun. Apparently, the internet says so. Yes, this would be the same internet that declared the unusual popping noise in your knees to be "AIDS." And, yes, it is possible to turn a camera/cell phone into a gun. It's just very unlikely this is happening with any frequency.
Despite this very "real" danger, Reinhold allows a
gun camera to be trained on him for the next few minutes as Pringle's friends continue to record the arrest. Not only that, but he continues to write the ticket for smoking outdoors, oblivious to multiple passersby that are carrying their phoneguns out in the open or concealed in pockets/purses.
Let's hope this little bit of misinformation doesn't become the next "Stop resisting." Officer Reinhold seems remarkably calm for a man with a gun pointed directly at his face. If I was in his position, I'd, at the very least, have my taser aimed directly back at the
gunman cameraman threatening my life.
It gets even better/worse. Reinhold, while being filmed by the non-arrestees, makes a statement even bolder/more ridiculous than his "Don't literally shoot me with your phone!" claim. (Second recording over at Photography Is Not A Crime.)
He also said that "officer safety" trumps the Constitution, meaning they can claim they are fear for their lives while they throw you in jail for any lame excuse.So, we're to believe that if an officer is in danger, the entire rulebook can just be tossed out the proverbial window? I mean, if you're already going to negate the Constitution when staring down the barrel of a Samsung, what's stopping you from scrapping the local codes and policies governing police work when in danger? Hours and hours of training in order to prep officers for dealing with the potentially dangerous public but when it all comes down to it, law enforcement is "authorized" to succumb to "fight or flight?" That makes no sense.
Pringle, double-threat that he is (smoker and
Fortunately for all of us, Pringle didn't. This is why we should record police activity. Without record of statements like these, it's nearly impossible to convince anyone that some members of law enforcement carry around an imaginary rulebook, one that can be rewritten on the fly to suit the situation at hand, or thrown out completely if the officers feel threatened. Reinhold is now infamous and will likely be confronted with many more dangerous would-be guns provided to the populace by notorious weapons dealers like T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T.