Cop Harasses Photographer, Steals His Cellphone Battery And Attempts To Get YouTube To Pull The Incriminating Video

from the The-War-on-Cameras-continues-unabated dept

Recording a police officer in public isn't a crime. Well, it isn't anything a cop can cite or arrest you for doing. Instead, a bunch of vague infractions are listed in hopes that something will stick and deter future citizen recordings.

Shawn Randall Thomas, a New York photographer, was approached by NYPD officer Efrain Rojas when he noticed Thomas filming another officer's interaction with a turnstile jumper in a subway station. "Approached" is putting it mildly. Rojas confronted Thomas and got physical when the photographer refused to stop filming. (via Techdirt reader Tony Loro)

A New York City cop beat up and arrested a man for video recording him inside a subway station from 30 feet away Saturday night, walking up to him and getting in his face all while claiming the man was invading his personal space…

Thomas also obtained footage from another man who had recorded Rojas with his knees on Thomas’ back as he lay face down on the sidewalk just outside the sub station, seconds after Rojas had bashed his face into the pavement, busting his lip.

The injury was so bad that they had to transport him to the hospital twice during his 24-hour incarceration where doctors described him as a victim of assault.
As if the impromptu "use of force" wasn't enough, Thomas was also charged with the following:
[Thomas] is still facing charges of resisting arrest, trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing government…
Here's the video:

Note that Rojas had to come over to where Thomas was filming (nearly 30 feet away) in order to be "obstructed." Note also that Thomas was filming in a public location, where it's almost impossible to "trespass." And note that the de rigueur "resisting arrest" is included only because Thomas didn't apply his own handcuffs, hoof it to the nearest cruiser and slide into the back seat.

Here's the description of "resisting arrest" from the arrest report itself:
Deponent further states that, at the above time and place, defendant did resist a lawful arrest by crossing defendants' arm across defendant's chest while deponent attempted to place defendant in handcuffs.
But it gets worse. Officer Rojas apparently grabbed Thomas' cellphone and either deleted the footage or removed the battery in order to prevent Thomas from filming any further. (PINAC's account of this event mentions "deletion" and Thomas using Recuva to recover the deleted footage, but the description of events only says Rojas took Thomas' phone and pocketed the battery.) Thomas then took out his backup phone (a Blackberry) and tried to continue filming, at which point Rojas "knocked the phone out of [Thomas'] hand" and slammed him to the ground.

Either way, Rojas made an effort to prevent any further filming. The incident report filed by Rojas makes no mention of the fact that he seized a cellphone and either deleted footage or seized the phone's battery. He also undermines the charge of trespassing by noting the area where Thomas was filming was public, which is contrary to Rojas' filmed assertion that Thomas was "violating" his "personal space."

Apparently, Rojas wasn't done with feeling "violated" by Thomas' filming. According to PINAC's Facebook page, Officer Rojas filed a privacy complaint asking YouTube to remove the video. YouTube, fortunately, turned his request down, which means that Rojas will now have to deal with a recording that contradicts (or severely weakens) many of the claims he made in his sworn statements (the arrest report).

As PINAC and Thomas point out, the obstruction charge is especially baseless, given Thomas' distance from the officers (approx. 30 feet compared to the report's "close proximity") and the fact that the entire situation appears to be completely under control by the time Officer Rojas arrives. Rojas seems to be the only cop there who viewed Thomas and his camera as somehow interfering with police business. Rojas then abandons his "partner" -- who is presumably dealing with an actual criminal -- solely to harass someone with a camera. If nothing else, Rojas has problems with prioritizing, giving the non-criminal (and protected) act of filming precedence over an actual law enforcement work.

Officer Rojas had multiple paths to take when he noticed a citizen filming him performing his public duties in a public place. Unfortunately, he decided to take the well-worn path and violate the rights of the photographer. And like many others, this decision has done nothing more than heap more negative publicity on the police department and the officer involved. The correct response -- ignore it and do your job -- still remains largely untested.



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  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 7:17am

    It's clear that the photographer was trying to steal Rojas' soul. Obviously, libertarian Tim Cushing hates cops and worships the devil. /herpderp

    Ahem. He could have removed the video from Youtube by sending a DMCA notice.

     

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    kP (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 8:56am

    Makes you wonder

    As some policemen don't know or choose to ignore the laws regarding public filming, photos and recording, it makes you wonder what other laws they have backward or choose to ignore.

     

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    S. T. Stone, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:04am

    Re: Makes you wonder

    Given the trends of violence, overreach, and just plain callous behavior by police officers across the country as of late, I consider it safe to assume that cops routinely consider themselves above the law — up to and including murder.

    Public photography probably doesn’t even register on their radar. Since few police departments actually punish cops for this sort of behavior, they likely feel they can get away with it easier than murder or rape or even petty theft — especially if they can wipe the evidence.

    I'd love to know how many police officers working the streets today had problems with bullies in their childhood. The behavior of cops these days makes me think they want the power that comes with the badge in order to make up for not having the power to stand up for themselves in their youth (i.e. the bullied become the bullies).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:28am

    How much more?

    Just wondering how much longer this sort of stuff will go on before 'Select' officers will be lynched or snuffed out for this sort of stuff.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:32am

    Re: How much more?

    This kind of stuff has been going on for longer than our lifetimes. Unless we act to change things institutionally, it will continue to go on essentially forever.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:32am

    Yeah, as long as 'cops' like that face absolutely zero real penalties for their actions('Oh no, I got a day of unpaid leave for roughing up a bystander! I might even get a stern warning to not get caught doing so again!'), it's hardly surprising that they see no problem doing so, and will continue.

    Put some real penalties in place, more than the pathetic slap on the wrist crap they face now, and then they might actually care about respecting people's rights.

     

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    Gabriel J. Michael (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:47am

    Could photographer have avoided arrest by not cursing?

    Obviously the arrest cannot be justified, given that the officer had to deliberately walk a significant distance over to confront the photographer, who was doing nothing other than recording - not even commenting on the situation. I hope he is disciplined and instructed in proper protocol, and that the photographer is compensated for the unlawful arrest and his injuries.

    I always watch these types of videos with interest, and try to imagine what I would do if I were in the situation. I can't help but wonder if by simply not cursing at the officer, the photographer could have avoided antagonizing him, and thus avoided arrest.

    Doesn't by any means make what the officer did justified in any way. But it seems like in many confrontations, the officer causes the conflict by unlawfully telling a person to stop recording, or trying to take their camera or delete the photos/recordings. But we didn't hear any of that in this video before the arrest.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:47am

    I appreciate a video that shows events before the officer arrives.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:47am

    On this one, I agree with the police officer

    Although the subject was injured, which was probably not the intention, the way the person acted, from the very begining, is similar to harassment. The police officer might not have had the best of idea by getting involved in it's game, but the simple fact the person takes the time to show the distance between him and the officers, way before the altercation, clearly show, in my mind, he had little interest in what was happening, but instead, hoped to prove something different. He challenged the police officer to arrest him and was demeaning from the very start. There's a middle ground, in each situation and in this case, the responsability seems to fall on both.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:48am

    Thirty days in jail sounds about right - for the cop, that is. What will happen instead is that the taxpayers will give the photographer some money (after a bunch of lawyers take their cut) and nothing will happen to the cop.

     

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    Deranged Poster (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:56am

    Re: Could photographer have avoided arrest by not cursing?

    Aww poor Fuc#$^ Cop lover doesn't want a cop's Fu(*&) ears hurt by words they don't Fu*&^(*& like.

    If the Pigs are hurt by words like Fu(*&^( or Sh(*&)^ and such, maybe they shouldn't be Pigs?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:00am

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    I was going to write up some big post to point out just all the ways you are wrong. But I will go with the more succinct answer.

    You are an idiot who obviously doesn't know what he is talking about when it comes to people filming officers in public space.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:01am

    Re:

    I wouldn't say "nothing". I he will a negative mark on his record and in all likelihood it MAY prevent him from ever being promoted.
    At least that is what would happen to an officer who did that in our department....

     

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    sorrykb (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:05am

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    Anonymous Coward wrote:
    the simple fact the person takes the time to show the distance between him and the officers, way before the altercation, clearly show, in my mind, he had little interest in what was happening, but instead, hoped to prove something different.

    That the photographer was expecting the police to violate his constitutional rights does not justify their doing so.

    He challenged the police officer to arrest him and was demeaning from the very start.

    Being demeaning or impolite is not a crime, nor should it be.

    There's a middle ground, in each situation and in this case, the responsability seems to fall on both.

    No. Police are given tremendous authority over the public, and because of this they do have a higher burden of responsibility. ("With great power...") It is their job to exercise a sufficient level of self-control not to respond to verbal provocation with violence.

    Or, at least, it should be.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:07am

    two things are badly needed here

    a) the correctly authorised person(s) need to make it perfectly clear to all LEO and others in Law Enforcement or Security Forces that filming officers IS NOT AN OFFENCE, STOPPING THOSE DOING THE FILMING IS and the courts need to show this in it's rulings of this type of case.

    b) the correctly authorised person(s) need to get hold of how LEO behave in NY and 'emphasize' how they are employed to protect the public, not to harass or incriminate them. a good place to start would be with the head honcho of the Police Dept and the City.

    this behavior is absolutely disgraceful! unfortunately, given how the whole of the USA is deteriorating into one giant Police State, it's not unexpected or surprising!

     

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    S. T. Stone, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:07am

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    Cool victim blaming, bro.

    Police officers have higher standards to live up to when working their jobs. An officer who becomes easily provoked into violence by harsh language alone does not live up to those standards — and, in a perfect world, would end up tossed out of their job for such behavior.

    Rojas has no one to blame for his bad behavior but himself since Rojas alone chose his reaction to the photographer’s non-violent actions and harsh language.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:08am

    Re: Could photographer have avoided arrest by not cursing?

    "I can't help but wonder if by simply not cursing at the officer, the photographer could have avoided antagonizing him, and thus avoided arrest."

    Perhaps so, but doesn't that seem like a rather huge problem to you? It means that cops are using their arrest powers not because they're addressing a crime, but because they're pissed off. To me, that sort of thing should be grounds for immediate firing.

    However, in general, your point is correct: in any situation where you're dealing with other people -- not just cops -- if you're swearing and generally acting in a dickish way,you're going to be treated worse.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:09am

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    So why does any of that make you agree with the officer?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:14am

    Clearly, the cop's personal space was invaded because the photographer didn't back away/stop filming/surrender his phone/drop to his knees and beg for forgiveness fast enough.

     

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    Gabriel J. Michael (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Could photographer have avoided arrest by not cursing?

    Of course it's a huge problem. And you'd think that a police officer should be more comfortable with getting sworn at, and less reactive than a normal person, given their job.

    I just wonder if he could have gotten away with a video of this officer acting unlawfully (by interfering with his lawful recording) AND also not been arrested and thrown in jail.

     

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    RyanNerd (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:17am

    What should the photographer have used instead of a camera?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:17am

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    Being disrespectful to a police officer is not, by itself, a crime:

    Flipping Off Police Officers Constitutional, Federal Court Affirms: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/flip-off-police_n_2403563.html

     

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    Namel3ss (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re:

    Nothing personal, but really, a "negative mark on his record"? BFD. If he hadn't been a cop, what he did would constitute assault & battery, which depending on jurisdiction may or may not be a felony and would certainly have landed him in jail.

    The proper punishment is firing and criminal charges, not a "negative mark on his record" that would keep him from "ever getting promoted".

     

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    paulgato, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:20am

    Another example here in UK

    Here's a cop in England harassing a cameraman at an anti-fracking protest. He tries to arrest him for drink-driving but he's a pedestrian and there's no car in sight! It's tragic, ...but still funny.

    http://21stcenturywire.com/2014/02/03/police-psychopath-caught-on-camera-framing-innocent-frac king-protester-for-dui/

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re:

    " he will a negative mark on his record and in all likelihood it MAY prevent him from ever being promoted."

    I'm with Namel3ss. The penalty for assault & battery is a negative mark on his record? That's essentially the same as no penalty at all.

    The penalty should be exactly the same as if you or I engaged in the same behavior: a criminal charge, a court appearance, and jail time. Or, if that's too radical, then just summary firing.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:25am

    Re:

    Telling them that it's not a crime to record cops doesn't do anything to solve the problem, unless there's penalties put in place and enforced to deal with those cops that continue to harass and arrest those that record them, stuff like this will just continue happening.

     

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    scotts13 (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:37am

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    IMHO, two people were looking for a confrontation there. The officer was clearly in the wrong, the photographer in the right - but, as the phrase goes, he didn't have to be a dick about it. Oh, he has the right to mouth off, and theoretically the officer can't do anything about it; but doing so doesn't help other people who wish to film in public.

    I'm a former professional photographer. To this day, I carry some fairly elaborate equipment, and probably have someone confront me two of three times a year. I keep laminated copies of local laws regarding photography in public spaces on my person, and helpfully read them to people as necessary. It's much easier to educate than to get out of jail. I've only been arrested once, and it didn't end well for the officer. Probably helps that I'm polite, co-operative, and, well, professional. You get what you give.

     

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    Deranged Poster (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re:

    Oh look another pig protecting bad pigs.

     

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  29. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:43am

    Timcushinghatescops.com

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    i agree that being polite will most likely provoke a different reaction. The reason i do not agree with you on this is because this type of abuse has been going on for a very long time and sometimes civil disobedience is needed to make changes. Avoiding the situation for yourself is not going to garner enough attention to the abuses to change the institutional behavior of the police throughout this country.

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 11:01am

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    There's only one way to have "middle ground" between a cop and one of his arrest victims.

    Cop tries to arrest victim.
    Victim tries to arrest cop.

    Both agree to arrest half of each other.

    Since the victim has no power over the cop, this is not possible.

     

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    d, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 11:02am

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    Which is illegal, being an asshole or destroying evidence, filing false charges and assault? Why should someone behaving within the law be expected to be assaulted and detained by the police? Even if he did expect it, why would that make the cop in the right for breaking the law?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 11:15am

    "The correct response -- ignore it and do your job -- still remains largely untested."

    Not true, there is a video going around of a Toronto cop who was filmed tackling a woman to the ground in order to arrest her. The officer actually said to the recorders "Go ahead and record me, take it all in." while the gathering crowed told him to lay off, "she's just a girl!"

    After she was secured in the police vehicle the officer actually spoke to the filmers and said that she was resisting arrest, and calmly explained the actions he took.

    The two officers then got into their vehicle and drove off.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f23CPcTdY2M

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Could photographer have avoided arrest by not cursing?

    He shoulda just flipped the cop the bird. Free expression as enumerated over and over by the courts.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 11:25am

    Re:

    That's how it should be done!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 11:31am

    This poor cop (Rojas) might have to take a paid vacation because of this terrorist's (Thomas) actions.

    -or-

    This poor citizen (Thomas) had to take a trip to the hospital because of this terrorist's (Rojas) actions.


    There is the story from the perspectives of each of the characters. Now, if you had not read the above article and had no knowledge of the situation whatsoever, which would you consider to be the right and just perspective?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 11:33am

    Re: Re: Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    Agree. People often say that they don't like the way things are or that they wish something were different. Yet, they continue to live their lives as they always had and point fingers at how other people should act differently. The bottom line is that we make the world we live in. If the majority of people held officers, politicians and the institutions accountable then things may be different. There are a lot more people than there are people in positions of power. Take time out of your day to film police encounters, demand your rights be upheld and require the courts to prove everything in the instance of an infraction or arrest. Sue police officers that break the law and put liens against their property. Make it clear to your local politicians that you are watching them and know what laws they are breaking. Put the fucking fear of the people back in the government. Once you are no longer afraid of dying, standing up for what is right is easy.

     

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    Alex Hagen, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 11:34am

    Is the NYPD especially corrupt

    So is the NYPD especially corrupt, or is it just that there are more people there, because I have seen a lot of cases of NYPD corruption lately.

     

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    chasten, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 11:49am

    I am so mad after watching this. It's pisses me off!!!!!!

     

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    Baron von Robber, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 11:59am

    The cop feared the person recording also had glitter.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Is the NYPD especially corrupt

    Little of both, but mostly the first.

    When you've got an already corrupt police force, that believes themselves to be completely above the law(and for all intents and purposes is, since none of those who are supposed to keep them in check will do so), and have a mayor that not only agrees with them but encourages it in office for years... yeah, it's hardly a surprise that you'd end up with a city police force almost completely comprised of the kinds of cops that make the rest of them look bad.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Makes you wonder

    Indeed... personally, I'd like to hear what his partner's story is on this, as he appeared to be following proper procedure right up to the end.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 12:24pm

    That video is ridiculous. Walking 30 feet to someone and then telling them that they're in your personal space warrants discipline. But the destruction of evidence warrants criminal charges.

    And the officer is just so *childish*. He seems someone recording, so he takes out his own camera to record him?
    Filmer: "You're violating my personal space." Officer: "You're violating my personal space too."
    Filmer: "What's your name and shield number?" Officer: "What's YOUR name?"
    Filmer: "You pick and choose what parts of the patrol guide you read?" Officer: "I'm not picking, you picking."

    What is he, six years old?

     

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    Colin, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    I'm picturing them being cuffed together, buddy movie-style.

     

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    martyburns (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    'Oh no, I got a day of PAID leave for roughing up a bystander! I might even get a stern warning to not get caught doing so again!'

    FTFY

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    You must be trolling. How can you watch that video and then say "I agree with the police officer"?

    The officer:
    Initiated contact by walking 30 feet
    Shoved his camera into someone's face and blocked their camera
    Kept doing that for about 30 seconds without saying anything
    Refused to back off of the person when asked
    Refused to state his name and badge number when asked
    Acted childishly in general
    Stole the guy's cell phone batteries
    Destroyed evidence
    Slammed the person into the ground
    Charged the person with trespassing in a public subway station
    Lied in the report about the person being in "close proximity"

    The filmer:
    Filmed peacefully for several minutes
    Was 30 feet away
    Did not attempt to approach
    Did not say anything until contact was initiated by the officer, and even then waited about 30 seconds
    Asserted his right to be there
    Swore at the officer

    This is nowhere near a close call. You can say the filmer shouldn't swear, but that's the ONLY thing he did wrong, and that's nowhere near the same level as what the officer did.

    The officer is probably guilty of assault, battery, theft, destruction of evidence, false arrest, perjury and/or filing a false report, and probably other things I can't think of. Not to mention all sorts of conduct violations. The guy is maybe guilty of disorderly conduct for swearing. And maybe resisting arrest if you can take the word of the officer, who already lied in his report.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 1:14pm

    Re:

    I'm with you, but please don't call the cop a terrorist. What he did was reprehensible, but not terrorism. That word is slung around far too freely and incorrectly as it is.

     

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    DOlz (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re: Could photographer have avoided arrest by not cursing?

    I don't think the cursing or had there been a lack of it would have made a difference. Rojas (he doesn't deserve the title of Officer) was looking to provoke a confrontation. The way he walked up to Mr. Thomas and stuck his camera in Mr. Thomas's face was an attempt at intimidation. Rojas wasn't going to back off until he intimidated or provoked Mr. Thomas in to something he thought he could justify. Rojas was looking for a fight and when he didn't get one he manufactured one.

    However; I do wish Mr. Thomas had refrained from cursing so no one could use it as an excuse for Rojas behaviour.

     

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    DCL, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re:

    It seems that behavior it is be closer to the correct usage that either of us wants...

    Terrorist:

    From: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/terrorist
    noun
    1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
    2. a person who terrorizes or frightens others.


    From the FBI:
    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/terrorism-definition

    "Domestic terrorism" means activities with the following three characteristics:
    - Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
    - Appear intended:
    -- (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
    - Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.



    Or you could just call him a bully.... but that is just a nice word for "local non-political terrorist".

     

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  50.  
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    Zonker, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 2:16pm

    Re:

    I'd like to see this "officer" try this game with the chief of police or the mayor sometime, on video. Would never happen because he'd know there would be consequences if he did that.

     

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  51.  
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    madasahatter (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    Not false arrest, go for kidnapping and in some jurisdiction it is a potential death penalty. Execute a few of these scumbags for kidnapping innocent people and watch how fast the Gestapo change.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    Nah, it wouldn't meet the NY definition of kidnapping. It meets unlawful imprisonment, though. "... to restrict a person`s movements intentionally and unlawfully in such manner as to interfere substantially with his liberty by moving him from one place to another, or by confining him either in the place where the restriction commences or in a place to which he has been moved, without consent and with knowledge that the restriction is unlawful."

    For kidnapping you'd need that plus an intent to prevent his liberation, for example by hiding him in a place where he's unlikely to be found. The jail doesn't count.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 3:14pm

    Sounds like destruction of evidence and Thug brutality. The sad part is, if the victim sues the Thug Department. The taxpayers will be the ones picking up the tab.

     

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  54.  
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    Tardis, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Makes you wonder

    Interracial relationships, being a christian, being an atheist, being a democrat, trying to vote. There are many situations where corrupt officers like this violate Americans constitutionally protected rights using their badge to send people into fear of race mixing and religious choices. This officer needs to be locked up away from society to help good officers and innocent citizens alike.

     

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  55.  
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    rasz, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 3:56pm

    Jackpot baby. This arrest is ~6 figures settlement in the bag. Good on the photographer.

    Sadly Officer Rohas will keep his job.

     

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  56.  
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    Bergman (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Makes you wonder

    If someone who is sworn to uphold and enforce the law can't be bothered to know the law or obey it, why should you or I?

    If might makes right, it's not immoral to shoot first.

     

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  57.  
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    Bergman (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Could photographer have avoided arrest by not cursing?

    Freedom of speech trumps the officer's thin skin and fragile ego.

    Courts have repeatedly ruled that profanity and rude gestures at cops are protected speech. After all, no one ever needed heavy legal protections for the right to say and do exactly what people want to hear and see.

     

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  58. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 4:54pm

    average_joe just hates it when due process is enforced.

     

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  59.  
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    Travis, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 5:35pm

    Re: Could photographer have avoided arrest by not cursing?

    I'd wonder the same thing myself if it wasn't for one fact. Mr. Thomas doesn't start cussing until after he tries to de-escalate the situation by moving away from Rojas. Rojas follows and continues harassing Mr. Thomas. That's when Mr. Thomas starts cussing. If Rojas hadn't followed, the situation wouldn't have continued escalating.

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 6:05pm

    Re: Re:

    boo-hoo.

    If I did what this cop did, I'd be in jail for assault. That's what this guy deserves: actual criminal charges, 5-10 years in prison as a violent offender, and a criminal record that makes it hell for him to get *any* job. in other words, the exact same punishment as the "little people" get.

    Instead, he gets to stay on the force and rack up meaningless "black marks".

     

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  61.  
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    zip, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 8:04pm

    stare-downs and power games

    The two were playing power games. The scene of a tough-talking, obscenity-spewing, inner-city street punk standing his ground while refusing to bow down to authority is hardly the most sympathy-inducing example of police misconduct.

    I suspect that the photographer probably did something to goad the cop to walk over and get in his face like that, and the way he documented the distance ahead of time, it seemed like he was preparing himself for a confrontation (which he promptly got).

    Whenever dealing with aggressive cops, it's important to at least try to defuse the situation whenever possible, not escalate it. A little politeness can go a long way. But if the goal is to provoke police overreaction and violent arrest by pushing the line, then at least have a second person unobtrusively filming your "Rodney King Moment."

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 8:58pm

    Re: Re: Makes you wonder

    "... I consider it safe to assume that cops routinely consider themselves above the law — up to and including murder."

    Considering the way prosecutors and courts are largely unwilling to punish them, I'd say they effectively are above the law.

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:03pm

    Re: stare-downs and power games

    Yeah, he should have immediately fallen to his knees and begged the cop's forgiveness. Got what he deserved!

    /s

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    zip, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:40pm

    Re: Re: stare-downs and power games

    It's not just a choice between two extremes. Everyone SHOULD assert their legal rights whenever possible, but do so respectfully and tactfully.

     

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  65. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Steve, Feb 25th, 2014 @ 4:21am

    World's Fastest Car 270 mph

    Video - World's Fastest Car: 270.49 mph Hennessey Venom GT

    http://commoncts.blogspot.com/2014/02/video-worlds-fastest-car-27049-mph.html

     

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  66.  
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    George, Feb 25th, 2014 @ 4:37am

    Office Rojas needs to be put in jail

    This is why the general public often mistrusts the police. The faster they put away officers like Rojas, the better it is for police in general.

     

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  67.  
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    JPL17 (profile), Feb 25th, 2014 @ 4:53am

    Re: reply to Ninja

    "Ahem. He could have removed the video from Youtube by sending a DMCA notice."

    Not so. A valid DMCA notice can only be sent by the copyright owner, which in this case is the person who took the video, Shawn Randall Thomas.

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2014 @ 5:28am

    Re: How much more?

    Certainly a citizen can exercise his right of self-defense to resist assault and battery and kidnapping.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2014 @ 6:01am

    Re: stare-downs and power games

    Really if the police are so easily provoked it is doing a public good to trigger and depose them.

     

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  70.  
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    Rick Caird, Feb 25th, 2014 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: Makes you wonder

    That is the problem; there is little problem. If NYC fires Rojas, retracts his law enforcement license, and arrest him for assault and battery, try, and convict him, then the rest of the department will get the message. Bt, until strong messages are delivered, then the problem will continue.

     

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  71.  
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    Liz (profile), Feb 25th, 2014 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: reply to Ninja

    It doesn't have to be a valid DMCA notice to temporarily take down a video.

    YouTube's process is pretty much automated and if a video receives a DMCA notice, the video is blocked until the uploader challenges the claim (up to three claims at a time). From there it would be up to Thomas to file a civil suit against Rojas.

    Challenging a DMCA claim on YouTube can take a number of weeks to process. This leaves the video offline for a long period of time.

     

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  72.  
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    askeptic, Feb 25th, 2014 @ 8:45am

    We'll soon find out what type of regime de Blasio/Bratten are planning on running. So far, any memorandum denoting change from the Fascist Bloomberg Regime don't seem to have trickled down to the troops - or maybe this one was on vacation.

     

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  73.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 25th, 2014 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    In the US, all of the various definitions of "terrorism" include wording to the effect that the violence must be with the intention of altering the actions of the state. There is no such thing as a "non-political terrorist."

    Bullying isn't terrorism. Terrorism is a lot more than just terrorizing people.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2014 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sounds like scary stuff. Hopefully the government can protect us from it.

    "There is no such thing as "non-political terrorist."

    Ok, so all we need to do is evolve past the idea of the "state" and do away with politicians to solve terrorism. I'm for that. End terrorism by ending the illusion of government.

     

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  75.  
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    Just-a-doc, Feb 25th, 2014 @ 10:42am

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    Agree with the PO? Really? If you're the guy with the power to detain and arrest, your poop had better not stink. The cop was way over the line in intimidating, detaining, injuring, and arresting the photog. Your "middle ground" POV, placates those who would remove personal liability from unionized thugs who beat up on people who are legally prevented from protecting themselves with force.

     

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  76.  
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    JPL17 (profile), Feb 25th, 2014 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Reply to Liz

    "It doesn't have to be a valid DMCA notice to temporarily take down a video."

    No, but to send an INVALID DMCA take-down notice, the cop would have had to commit PERJURY. The DMCA requires that ALL take-down notices be filed under penalty of perjury, and in fact the first line of a typical valid DMCA notice begins, "I, the undersigned, certify UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY that the information in this notification is accurate and that I am authorized to act on behalf of [the copyright owner]."

    Would YOU commit an obvious, easy-to-prove perjury, just so you could get a troublesome video taken down for a short period? I wouldn't. And I don't expect the cop would, either.

    Besides, you're just plain wrong about a DMCA notice being sufficient to keep a video off YouTube for "a number of weeks." It's NOT. A separate DMCA notice has to be sent EACH time a video is uploaded to YouTube. So as long as the photographer has enough separate e-mail addresses -- or enough friends with e-mail addresses -- all he has to do is keep uploading the same video faster than the cop can post new DMCA take-down notices.

    That's why record and film companies HATE the DMCA take-down process; it's because they can't possibly post take-down notices faster than the infringers can upload their videos. They even have a name for this process. They derisively call it "whack a mole".

    Meanwhile, keep in mind that EACH time the cop posts a new DMCA take-down notice, it's a NEW perjury charge against him. So it wouldn't take long for him to commit enough acts of perjury to be facing decades in prison. Enough to make him think twice about posting perjurious DMCA notices, I would think.

     

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  77.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 25th, 2014 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply to Liz

    Would YOU commit an obvious, easy-to-prove perjury, just so you could get a troublesome video taken down for a short period? I wouldn't. And I don't expect the cop would, either.

    The perjury clause? Completely toothless, I'm not aware of any cases where it was actually enforced, since 'Well I accidentally made a mistake in my claim' seems to be a court approved dodge whenever it comes up, and enforced against a cop? Not a chance.

     

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  78.  
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    JPL17 (profile), Feb 25th, 2014 @ 4:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply to That One Guy

    So, are you confessing that, yes, in fact, you WOULD commit any obvious, easy-to-prove perjury, just so you could get this troublesome video taken down for a short period?

    Before you answer, please keep in mind that this is NOT the typical DMCA takedown "mistake", where the takedown party can plausibly claim that he mistakenly thought the video was his own, or mistakenly thought that the use hadn't been authorized by an employees, or mistakenly thought the use wasn't allowed as a "fair use." In those cases, the perjury law IS toothless (as you claim), because of the difficulty, if not impossibility, of proving perjury.

    But in THIS a case, the perjury charge would be open-and-shut. I.e., he cop would be telling a blatant lie about owning the copyright in the video, when he absolutely KNOWS that that claim is false, and it would be easy to prove that he knew it was false.

    So, are you claiming that you WOULD tell such a blatant lie in a DMCA takedown notice, even if you knew it would be easy to prove that you're committing perjury?

     

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  79.  
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    Urgelt (profile), Feb 25th, 2014 @ 11:14pm

    Re: Makes you wonder

    Well, yes.

    What distinguishes authoritarian governments from democratic ones is this: the law in authoritarian societies is whatever those in authority say it is.

    We're in great danger in our own nation from this authoritarian trend. It's not just police departments, it's illegal actions taken by government behind the veil of secrecy, too. Assassinations, rendition, hacking and malware attacks, property seizures without due process, torture, refusal to prosecute torturers, refusal to prosecute Wall Street criminals, persecution of minorities, illegal spying which violates the 4th Amendment, on and on and on. The lawlessness not getting better, it's getting worse.

    The brave young man who recorded this confrontation represents the only real hope we have, I think. Our democracy is no longer functioning; both parties are advancing the authoritarian security state and answerable only to the wealthy elites. All that's left is to expose as much malfeasance as we can.

    NSA is able to compile dossiers based on our commenting at web sites and our e-mails, too, and they share with FBI and other agencies. Watch lists and targeted spying is the least we can expect. Even expressing nonviolent opinions is dangerous in America's security state.

     

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  80.  
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    Urgelt (profile), Feb 25th, 2014 @ 11:18pm

    Re: On this one, I agree with the police officer

    That's just insane, AC.

    It's *legal* to photograph or take videos of the police in public spaces. The photographer *in no way* interfered with the arrest he was photographing. The photographer was within his rights to ask the officer to move out of his face. And it's not a crime to say 'fuck.'

    The photographer baited the officer, sure. That's not illegal either - if he stays within the law. He did. The correct and legal response by the officer was to go about his legal business.

     

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  81.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 26th, 2014 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply to Liz

    " but to send an INVALID DMCA take-down notice, the cop would have had to commit PERJURY."

    Completely meaningless. Perjury is committed routinely in these filings.

    "I don't expect the cop would, either"

    Why wouldn't you? There is no risk in committing such perjury, and the cop has already shown that he is pretty comfortable doing clearly illegal things.

    "EACH time the cop posts a new DMCA take-down notice, it's a NEW perjury charge against him"

    Technically, except that such a charge will never, ever be brought no matter how many times he does it. So it's meaningless.

     

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  82.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 26th, 2014 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply to That One Guy

    The issue isn't what TOG would or wouldn't do. The issue what the cop would or wouldn't do. This cop is so ethically challenged that I expect he'd do anything he could get away with -- and he is guaranteed to get away with this perjury.

     

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  83.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 26th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The absence of the state does not mean the absence of politics. Not even close.

     

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  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2014 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply to Liz

    Wow, sounds like someone has a gigantic axe to grind.

    Contrary to what you claim there's never been a case where perjury over the DMCA was punished. Never mind "open and shut" cases. Your rant is completely invalid.

     

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  85.  
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    Urgelt (profile), Feb 26th, 2014 @ 8:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: stare-downs and power games

    Personally, I agree. I like tact. I like respect.

    But it's not a crime to be untactful. To legally detain and arrest, the officer must witness a crime or have reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed.

    Photographing police in a public space from a respectful distance is not a crime. Swearing is not a crime. Asking an officer who is exceeding this authority illegally to 'get out of my face' is not a crime. At no point did the photographer commit any crime at all.

    The officer, on the other hand, far exceeded his authority. He harassed a citizen without any evidence whatsoever of criminal conduct, assaulted him, attempted to destroy evidence, and pressed false charges against him.

     

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  86.  
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    Urgelt (profile), Feb 26th, 2014 @ 8:48pm

    Re: Re: stare-downs and power games

    That is precisely my reaction.

    My hat's off to people who record the police in public spaces, knowing full well that some of them are going to act illegally as a consequence. It's a public service. Let's find out which cops are law-abiding and which are not, and let the public know.

     

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  87.  
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    JPL17 (profile), Feb 27th, 2014 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply to John Fenderson

    But we ALREADY KNOW "what the cop [has or hasn't done]."

    Namely, he HASN'T sent a DMCA takedown notice.

    And since I AGREE with you that "[t]his cop is so ethically challenged that...he'd do anything he could get away with," that means the ONLY POSSIBLE REASON he HASN'T yet sent a DMCA takedown notice is that...are you ready for this?...he thinks he wouldn't get away with it.

    And WHY do you suppose he thinks he wouldn't get away with it?

    Because he knows that in order for him to send a DMCA takedown notice, he'd have to commit a blatant perjury, which perjury would be incredibly easy to prove, and against which he'd have NO defense whatsoever.

    So even assuming that no one else has ever been charged with perjury for sending an erroneous DMCA notice, this cop doesn't want to be the first. And he knows he COULD very well be the first, since unlike all the other people who were never charged because their perjuries were hard to prove, HIS perjury is easy to prove, indeed, an open-and-shut case.

    Furthermore, even if he weren't ever charged with perjury, the fact that he committed an obvious perjury could have OTHER adverse consequences for him. For example, even without a perjury conviction, his obvious commission of perjury might subject him to discipline in his job, or might cause New York City judges to automatically discredit his testimony in every criminal case in which he has to testify. (FYI, as a former assistant DA, I can tell you that judges do, in fact, tend to disbelieve cops whose credibility has been hammered in the press.) So even if he's never charged with perjury, it is RATIONAL for him to fear the consequences if he publicly commits a blatant perjury.

    Which has been my entire point since my first post above.

     

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  88.  
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    JPL17 (profile), Feb 27th, 2014 @ 5:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply to John Fenderson

    See my reply above.

     

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  89.  
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    JPL17 (profile), Feb 27th, 2014 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply to Anonymous coward

    Your reading comprehension sucks. I never claimed that anyone has ever been charged with perjury for sending a false DMCA takedown notice. Indeed, I expressly assumed that NO ONE has ever been so charged.

    If my comments strike you as an "invalid rant", try rebutting them with logic and accurate facts instead of bullshit.

     

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  90.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2014 @ 9:23am

    United Fascists of America

     

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  91.  
    identicon
    AG, Mar 4th, 2014 @ 6:21pm

    Not all big bad apples

    Remember the recent story of the Hamilton police officer video that went viral.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Mar 13th, 2014 @ 9:54am

    San Diego Harbor Police Harass Photographer

    Police harass photographers everywhere. Sometimes the media reports it, other times they refuse to touch the story (usually if you don't fall into the protected minority class)

    http://www.copblock.org/36902/san-diego-harbor-police-profile-harass-detain-and-file-false-rep orts-on-american-jewish-photographer/

    http://gangstersinblue.org/tag/photography/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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