Yet Another Story Of A Guy Arrested For Filming Police

from the when-will-they-learn dept

We’ve had a bunch of stories lately concerning people being arrested for filming or photographing the police while they’re doing their job in public. This is pretty ridiculous, and thankfully courts have started to make it clear that this is a First Amendment violation. Of course, we also just had the story of the city of Boston having to pay $170,000 to one of the people it arrested for filming them. And yet, the message still hasn’t reached the police, who seem to keep on arresting people for pointing a camera in their general direction.

JJ sent over a ridiculous story from Philadelphia where a Temple student was arrested for photographing the police, which he actually did as part of his photojournalism class, where he had a “night-photography” assignment. When he saw the police pull someone over near where he lived, he went over with his camera and started taking pictures. What happened next seems positively ridiculous:

As Van Kuyk tells it, he grabbed his camera and began taking photos of the occurrence. After being told to move away from the scene, Van Kuyk distanced himself but continued to take photos, he said. However, an officer soon after demanded Van Kuyk to stop taking photos, he said.

“He was pushing me, and I kept taking pictures and he didn’t like it, and he…got real aggressive and threw me to the ground,” Van Kuyk said.

When his girlfriend, Meghan Feighan, tried to pick up the camera, she was arrested and held for nearly 18 hours, he said. Van Kuyk was arrested and held for nearly 24 hours.

The National Press Photographers Association sent a letter to the police commissioner decrying this behavior, noting that just a few months ago, the commissioner, Charles Ramsey, had actually sent out a memo to police officers, reminding them that they can be “photographed, videotaped or audibly recorded” when in public.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped the prosecution of these two individuals from moving forward. The girlfriend agreed to “settle” her case, paying $200 and agreeing to 12 hours of community service, for daring to pick up her boyfriend’s camera after he’d been shoved to the ground. However, Van Kuyk is still facing charges — including one potential felony charge for “hindering apprehension.” One hopes that the court here agrees with the appeals court in Boston. Either that, or the prosecutors in Philly learn about the $170,000 Boston just had to pay out…

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Comments on “Yet Another Story Of A Guy Arrested For Filming Police”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Hopeful Solidarity

Does our first ammendment right allow us to film / photo / audio record the military? With the most recent NDAA, weren’t those bitches told they have the authority to police the citizenry? Send in the army, these terroristic fine artists are threating our national securethegreen.

Jan says:

filming police

Wow yeah, Same is happening here in The Netherlands.
Several cases.
Is the po-lice getting lowered their intake standards or, as I suspect, there is a quiet change in policy being pushed on an international scale. Just to move the boundaries so that maybe people start self-censoring their behavior.

Interesting to see, to say the least.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: filming police

No it’s always been there.

It’s just that…

1. There are more people with readily available cameras now.
2. Due to Social Networking, YouTube, and Flickr, the ability to spread the content on a wide scale is much easier.
3. First Amendment issues are a hot topic due to SOPA/PIPA

Because of these things it happens more frequently and news of it spreads quicker and farther.

A Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The police don’t have to get warrants to photograph you in public, and do so on a regular basis.

The executive should have to get a warrant to monitor your communications in and out of your home, but they don’t.

Citizens have the same right to photograph police in public. However, if a random private citizen were tapping an officers phone calls or internet usage, how quickly do you think he would be arrested once caught?

FritzMuffknuckle (user link) says:

Lt. Evers says he didn't arrest him for taking pictures.

Philadelphia Police Lt. Raymond Evers says he didn’t arrest the photojournalism student for taking pictures. He arrested him for obstruction, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but not photography…

This article has since been edited to substitute ‘other offenses’ for ‘obstruction, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.’

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Lt. Evers says he didn't arrest him for taking pictures.

It’s sad that I feel compelled to point out that “Obstruction of Justice” and “Obstruction of Police Action” are becoming more and more distinct.

If you want someone to respect your “Authoritah” you need to earn their trust through professionalism and example. We’re not children and “because I said so” is not an acceptable rationale.

Torg (profile) says:

Re: Lt. Evers says he didn't arrest him for taking pictures.

Being arrested for resisting arrest seems like circular logic to me. Disorderly conduct and obstruction can be just about anything an authority figure doesn’t like. Those sound like explanations, but if they were real explanations they’d provide more than a general sense of badness and explanation-ness.

Thomas (profile) says:

Re: Lt. Evers says he didn't arrest him for taking pictures.

In other words, the cops will do whatever they need to do in order to hide their own criminal behavior.

They should warn the students in the school “Do not attempt to photograph any police officer at any time, whether with still camera or video. Do not attempt to take an audio recording of any police officer.”

The cops do not believe in civil rights anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lt. Evers says he didn't arrest him for taking pictures.

Standard corrupt cop arrest charges translation:
obstruction of justice – he was doing something I didn’t like and I do not have the mental capacity to ignore the harmless action and continue doing my job.
resisting arrest – he pointed out that what he was doing wasn’t illegal and I had no grounds to arrest him, which is itself an arrest-able offense.
disorderly conduct – he didn’t meekly and immediately obey my every command.

PlagueSD says:

The only thing I can see is if he was using a flash with his pictures. At night, a flash can temporarily blind you. If that was interfering with the police officer’s duties, I can see charges being brought up for “hindering apprehension”. Other than that, I see nothing wrong with taking pictures of “public figures”

[citation needed or GTFO] says:

Re: Night photography assignments

It’s not necessarily about using flash. Some photo professors that assign “night-photography” absolutely abhor using flash. They tell their students to use natural lighting (i.e. streetlamps and neon signs), increase their shutter speed and light sensitivity.

If he were taking stationary photos, then flash isn’t necessary. But in this case, you might be right that he used flash, especially is he was constantly moving.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Night photography assignments

Four attributes control exposure. Amount of light, ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture. With a flash, Shutter speed (as long as it is slow enough to sync) is irrelevant. If you are not then Amount of light is usually a constant that you can’t control. However, every other attribute has another aspect to be considered. ISO (on film) controls the grain (high ISOs digitally result can result in “noise”). Shutter speed also controls how much (if at all) a moving subject is blurred by the motion. Aperture also controls the depth of field.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

A simpler solution...

Rather than let these jackbooted thugs (its a nicer term) foist the bill for this onto the city, demand the union pony up half the cash.
You’d be AMAZED how when the direct impact of actions is put directly on those responsible you can alter behavior.

It should be abundantly clear to police that they are being watched more than ever, and even after Tony Bologna and Pike they are still doing things they don’t want others to see. So the simple solution would seem to be do your job as it should be done, because then it doesn’t matter who films what… your within the law. You want the respect of the people your supposed to “protect & serve” then start following the law yourselves.

This is not to say every cop is a bad cop, but the lack of any officer/union calling out these obviously illegal tactics says more about how they are just a gang with better toys.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Better idea: assuming it even sees the inside of a courtroom, and the judge is in the mood to actually punish the police for gross misconduct, ask for maybe 50K or so, with it to be deducted from the paycheck of the offending police officer in question.

A huge fine means nothing if they can just pass the buck right back to the taxpayers, and get off scott-free themselves, but if they actually get penalized themselves, it might cut down on repeat offenders.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

An evolving thought...

I’ve suggested before that giving people power seems to result in a kind of brain damage. It is the only way you can explain some of what Congress, CEO’s, etc do.
I think the corollary to go along with this is, if it isn’t their money, they will never care.

Imagine if a Congresscritter managed to slip in an amendment that was WAY over the top (take your pick there have been some doozys) and it resulted in a lawsuit. If the Congresscritter had to pony up and pay the legal bills out of his own money, do you think he’d make better laws? As it stands now they sit back and let everyone else pay for the problems. Tax dollars are wasted fighting these cases in courtrooms and the damages come from tax dollars. The Congresscritter at worst gets an OpEd calling him an idiot.

Imagine if we set X% of the damages for a cop going over the line as debt he owed. Just like student loans, you can’t escape them. If there was financial “incentive” to not violate peoples rights, would that be enough to offset the “brain damage” power causes?

Walks-In-Storms (profile) says:

As the guy who first (Waterloo-CedarFalls, Iowa, 1978) bought video and movie cameras and outfitted any member of the public willing to film cops and public official caught in wrongdoing, I love it. My own case had to do with my investigation of police mendacity and prosecutor miss-conduct (faking evidence, for instance), and police retaliation. Caught on camera by persons paid to follow me and film what happened when police stopped me, the state was obliged to return my driving priveleges and license.

It seems we’ve now come to bigger and better things….

Walks-In-Storms (profile) says:

As the guy who first (Waterloo-CedarFalls, Iowa, 1978) bought video and movie cameras and outfitted any member of the public willing to film cops and public official caught in wrongdoing, I love it. My own case had to do with my investigation of police mendacity and prosecutor miss-conduct (faking evidence, for instance), and police retaliation. Caught on camera by persons paid to follow me and film what happened when police stopped me, the state was among other things obliged to return my driving privileges and license; and during the 23 years I was obliged to defend myself against continual war waged by the IRS when the same Iowa prosecutors instigated it, the fact of my never being without a voice recorder and (later) video surveillance coverage kept me out of jail. I wrote a book about it all.

It seems we’ve now come to bigger and better things….

Thomas (profile) says:

Just goes to show..

that the cops don’t give a rats tushie about civil rights. Anyone annoying the cops by filming them, photographing them, or probably even looking at them is considered a criminal and should be beaten and arrested. The cops really want to avoid another “Rodney King” incident, but they want to do it by making it illegal to film them beating someone nearly to death. I think the student is stupid to even go near the cops with a camera; it’s more dangerous than a gun.

Cops all over the country firmly believe they are above the law, and their superiors and district attorneys fully support this view. When you are on the street, you are totally at the mercy of any cop who decides to make your life miserable. You cannot resist, and you can only hope they do not beat you as well as arrest you. You will need a very expensive lawyer to get yourself out as well.

Stay away from the cops and don’t for the love of god trust them.

It’s funny that with all these stories, the cops still wonder why people don’t trust them and won’t help them solve crimes. Even if you are trying to help the cops, you run the risk of them thinking you are guilty of something and will promptly arrest you. Be safe and stay away.

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