Police Arrest Woman For Filming Them, Take Phone Out Of Her Bra, Claim That It Must Be Kept As 'Evidence'

from the that-won't-go-over-well dept

In the comments to our story last week about false arrests for filming police, someone pointed to yet another such story of a woman who was arrested for filming the police. Even worst, the police confiscated her phone — which she had shoved into her bra — and then have refused to return it, claiming that it’s now “evidence” of a crime.

If there’s any “good” news in this story, it’s that the police chief immediately ordered an investigation into the officer who did this, and noted that it’s legal to film police. Still, the details of what happened seem pretty crazy. As reported by the New Haven Independent (linked above):

“Stop filming right now!” Rubino ordered her.

“No this is my civil right,” she recalled saying. Gondola said she’s “always on all these news sites” reading about recent cases in which cops got in trouble for snatching cameras from citizens.

“Well, I have to right to review it,” Rubino allegedly told her.

Gondola claimed she remained “very quiet and calm” and “pressed play” to show him the video. “But I didn’t let him touch my phone.”

Rubino’s response, according to Gondola: “It’s evidence of a crime. You need to give it to me right now.”

Her response to his response: “I’m not giving you the phone.”

His next response: “If you don’t give me the phone, you’re getting arrested.”

So Gondola slipped the phone into her bra. Rubino “twisted my hand hard behind me and put the cuffs on me. Really tight. My wrists are black and blue,” she said.

Rubino next ordered a female officer to pat her down and commanded, “I want that phone out of her bra.” The woman removed the phone. Rubino “put it in his pocket,” Gondola said.

The article, written a few days later, notes that later on she demanded the phone back, and was once again told that it was “evidence” and that the only way she can get her phone back is to wait until she goes to court, and asks the judge to return the phone. At the very least, it sounds like she will be without her phone for well over a week. In these days, when phones are pretty central to a lot of people’s lives, that can be a pretty big hardship… all for doing something perfectly legal: filming the police on duty.

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Comments on “Police Arrest Woman For Filming Them, Take Phone Out Of Her Bra, Claim That It Must Be Kept As 'Evidence'”

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97 Comments
MrWilson says:

Re:

“a sergeant who allegedly had a woman arrested and a cell phone camera snatched from her bra after she recorded him beating a handcuffed suspect.”

“The allegations against Sgt. Chris Rubino came from two women who observed a tussle between cops and an unruly man”

Coupled with the “Stop filming right now” command, it seems like the crime the Sgt. wanted the evidence of was possibly his own.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re:

at the authoritarian AC:
yeah! that’s the ticket!
he was just -um- like *totally* concerned for her safety in case she had incriminating stuff on the phone, and an entitled donut eater wanted to abuse their position of authority and bully her into giving it up, yeah, that’s it, he was just trying to ensure the evidence wasn’t, like, um, you know, accidently lost in the evidence room, um, you know, or sumpin’ like that…
*snicker*
try getting up off your knees supplicating to your masters, Citizen…
WE’RE the bosses, not THEM; something BOTH of us have forgotten…
art guerrilla
aka ann archy
eof

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Good reason for something like dropbox

This is a good reason to have a dropbox account and have the app installed on your smart phone. It can be set to automatically upload your video and photos to your DropBox account. That way if your phone is stolen by a LEO you still have the video.

As much as some people hate Google+, it sure does an awesome job of uploading pictures and video to your account automatically without your consent (yes, there is a checkbox you can click to turn off this behavior.) I leave it on, because I am always losing the data on my phone (wipe and upgrade CM7,) so I don’t have to worry about it. Of course, I am sure like Megaupload, Google+ will probably be on the list of sites the AC trolls want shut down, and they may have the support of the crooked cops once they discover this feature, so I probably will have to back them up to facebook and twitter too.

Anonymous Coward says:

if i was her, i would be very concerned at what the police, maybe this 1 particular officer in particular, was doing with the phone, eg, checking any and all other content on it, making a backup of her contacts etc. the really worrying thing is though, if he wasn’t doing something he probably shouldn’t, he wouldn’t have anything to hide or get so upset about, would he?

CruiserPOP66 (profile) says:

Involuntary participation in the justice system

The police officer identified there was proof that he needed. If she had been more on the ball, she could have offered a copy be emailed to the police officer, or allow the officer to make a copy.

When she refused to hand the phone over, she became guilty of obstruction.

People need to stop thinking that all cops are bad. They have a job to do , and if you want to get involved, then do so… just don’t complain when your involvement gets you in a situation you’d rather not be in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Involuntary participation in the justice system

I think you are reading more in to what is printed here.

Lets all face it and admit it, the police in this great nation are obviously that to ask forgiveness is far better than to ask permission. i.e. I firmly believe that given all of the press this type of incident has received in just the last year demonstrates that the police chain of command is silently encouraging this behavior.

So while an officer may get reprimanded after fact, this type of illegal behavior by police officers, nation wide, continues and will be so for the foreseeable future.

Having a phone that uploads your pictures and videos, if you wish to engage in this type of risky behavior, is the only legal recourse that will allow you to retain your video. Otherwise, it’s a safe bet it is already erased.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Involuntary participation in the justice system

Yeah, at some point you’ve got to have some calm, non-violent fun w/these d-bags. I personally like to bluff them into paranoia:

Office: You! In the Vader costume! Stop filming with your phone right now!”

Me: It’s not a Vader costume.

O: What?

Me: It’s not a Vader costume. Haven’t you seen Space Balls?

O: Sir, are you not aware that part of police training is the stripping of all sense of humor?

Me: Ah, sorry Officer.

O: Anyway, stop filming me with your phone!

Me: Sure, no problem. *puts phone in pocket*

O: Now give me the damn phone! It’s evidence!

Me: Hmm, well, you can take it from me if you want. But how condident are you that you can find ALL the cameras?

O: Wh…what do you mean?

Me: Officer, I don’t leave the house without having at least 33 different covert cameras on me, placed in various and often lewd places, some of them on, some of them off, some of them are just decoys. So, you can either take a deep breath and let me keep my phone video of you smacking around yet another terrifying brown-skinned fella, or we can play what will likely amount to at least 3 hours worth of hug and tickle while you try to figure out which crevace the next phone is in. How do you want to do this?

O: …….have a good day, Vader.

Me: It’s NOT A VADER COSTUME, DAMN IT!

Torg (profile) says:

Involuntary participation in the justice system

If that had been the cop’s intent, he could’ve asked for a copy to be sent to him on his own, without prompting. Also, telling her to stop filming doesn’t fit very nicely into that chain of events.

I don’t think all cops are bad. One of my best friends is a cop. However, this one seems to pretty clearly be in the wrong.

Eponymous Coward (profile) says:

Watching the Watchmen

Gondola is on record in the article stating that this cop was roughing up a suspect who was already in hand and ankle cuffs, so I think it’s pretty damned obvious why he wanted the camera. Somebody got his badge-muscles on, then realized that he wasn’t in a “my word against his” scenario.

Also, there’s this gem in the article:

“Police Union President Arpad Tolnay Monday defended Rubino in the Temple Plaza camera incident.”

Gosh, a union wonk defending someone who was overreaching? Never would have expected that.

The chief of police in this town sounds like a good apple, though, he’s taken these cases to the mat already with his officers, causing the resignation of one.

LDoBe (profile) says:

Re:

Actually the phone is not evidence. The data on the phone is evidence.
The phone is not evidence in the same way that a witness is not evidence. The witness’ testimony is evidence, but witnesses aren’t locked up and held in isolation that often. Why should a phone be? An eye-witness is a source that can’t be trusted at best, and totally deluded or completely manufactured at worst (see Crashing memories and reality monitoring: Distinguishing between perceptions, imaginations
and ‘false memories.’
PDF Warning).

Data on the other hand is the exact same for everyone involved, no matter how it’s interpreted later, as long as it’s unmodified and a chain of custody is kept.

It makes 100% sense to get a copy of the phone’s data and leave the original device with the witness, it makes no sense to deprive a witness of their property just to hold onto the data in the device when it’s so easily decoupled from the recorder that created the original manifestation of the data.

Unless, of course, you want to peruse data that is irrelevant and unrelated to the originally recorded crime in order to charge/inconvenience/badger/incarcerate the owner, so you can make them seem like an unreliable and incredible witness to the crimes the officer committed him/herself…..Which would be obstruction of justice and an ad hominem attack in any case.

LDoBe (profile) says:

Re:

The “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” argument is a straw-man, and the weakest argument I’ve ever seen in favor of destroying privacy.

On the other hand, the argument that goes “I hired you to do a job, and you’ve haven’t been doing it, so now I will monitor your performance” argument is much stronger, since it’s enforced by a social contract with the whole country.

While I support private sector unions, which help to guarantee that the workers have their concerns addressed and their rights upheld, the unofficial “Blue Wall of Silence” is incredibly disturbing since EVERYONE pays to have police officers, and everyone is affected by what they do, in addition to the police being granted the use of high levels of violence and control of individuals by the state.

If we can’t monitor the police and keep indisputable evidence, then the citizenry can’t defend itself from despotic officers and policies.

New Mexico Mark says:

Involuntary participation in the justice system

“Otherwise, it’s a safe bet it is already erased.”

Depending on the judge, “accidental” erasure of data or destruction of the phone could make for an interesting hearing.

“Yes, your honor, this officer forcibly took my phone and falsely arrested me based on the pretext that the video on the phone was evidence and that he could therefore confiscate it on his own authority.”

“Now, besides wrongfully depriving me of both property and liberty, he testifies that the “evidence” was “accidentally” erased. I’m confident that if the phone had remained in my possession that the video would be in existence today. It is my belief that destruction of that video was the intent all along and that it was for the purpose of covering up his own misconduct.”

“May I respectfully request you take this officer at his word when he claims the video was evidence. Are there any penalties for the willful destruction of evidence and possible misconduct by law enforcement officers? By penalties, I mean something more serious than paid vacation time.”

LDoBe (profile) says:

Involuntary participation in the justice system

And the F**king judge replies:

Officers are sworn to hold themselves at a higher level of conduct. What evidence besides your testimony is there that the officer would have deleted this evidence on purpose?

The problem here is proving what is an accident and what is not while the only evidence is “my word against yours”

Torg (profile) says:

Evidence

Nowadays it’s pretty damn easy to get someone’s recording of an event without taking any part of the mechanism they used to record it. It is literally as easy as putting a video on YouTube. Confiscation of a digital camera is therefore never a reasonable way to collect evidence, especially when that camera is part of something as important to a person’s daily life as a phone.

scichotic (profile) says:

Interesting bit in the New Haven Indie article...

“The question of whether cameras can be seized on the grounds of containing evidence has arisen in previous discussions of the order and of incidents in other cities. …snip…

Gondola said Rubino made that argument to her.

Her response?

?This is not the guy committing the crime,? she said. ?This is the police doing the crime.?”

So she says right there that the video was of the police committing the crime — evidently the previously mentioned roughhousing of a fully shackled offender. We’ve even got a nice pic of Rubino in that article with his foot on the perp’s head to lend a little credibility to the accounts of the two women. Or, is stepping on the head of a subdued perp normal?

Looks pretty bad for the cop.

TB says:

Re:

Exactly, you hear these claims a lot and a lot of times you only hear what happened at that moment from the “victim’s” side. You don’t ever hear what was happening with the cops at all which makes things that much worse. A lot of times people will have other’s film their crimes especially if it’s for gang initiation so they have proof. They also do it in order to have a “wall of fame” if you will. People don’t understand everything and always side against the cops. If the cops were in the wrong then so be it, they will be caught, but people need to stop going after them WAITING for them to screw up.

JMT says:

Involuntary participation in the justice system

“The police officer identified there was proof that he needed. If she had been more on the ball, she could have offered a copy be emailed to the police officer, or allow the officer to make a copy.”

Surely you just had a massive brain fart, and meant to say “If the police officer had been more on the ball, he could have asked politely for a copy to be emailed to him, or asked politely to make a copy.”

“People need to stop thinking that all cops are bad.”

Cops need to stop doing things that make people think all cops are bad. They could start by not defending or protecting other officers that do these things.

“They have a job to do…”

Lamest excuse ever. Their job requires them to follow the law, and society holds them to a higher standard of following laws than non-police. Respect is earned slowly by good actions, but lost rapidly by bad ones.

Anonymous Coward says:

Involuntary participation in the justice system

“When she refused to hand the phone over, she became guilty of obstruction.”

The cops are likely the ones trying to obstruct justice. For instance

“In one case then-Assistant Chief ordered a citizen arrested and his videos erased; Limon released a separate internal affairs report Thursday concluding the Melendez violated department rules.”

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/citizen_video_policy_unveiled/

I suppose it’s not obstruction when a cop does it to conceal his misbehavior.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“It makes 100% sense to get a copy of the phone’s data and leave the original device with the witness, it makes no sense to deprive a witness of their property just to hold onto the data in the device when it’s so easily decoupled from the recorder that created the original manifestation of the data.”

yes, and you expect the police patrol officer to be able to do that instantly, without error, while entirely respecting the chain of evidence?

What planet are you from?

vilain (profile) says:

growth industry for litegators

Once the internet uploading phone app appears, which would stream directly to the cloud, confiscating the phone will be the least of the police’s problems. A court order to take down the video (as “evidence”) would soon follow.

What I think is needed here is skilled observers. This would make a great 1st year associate’s job. Go around filming police, staying out of their way, getting arrested, phone impounded, ‘resisting arrest’ and ‘inciting’ while being arrested to compound the arresting officer’s offenses, and ultimately fighting the entire thing in court, filing damages against the city, police chief, and officers involved. Cities would settle. Marginal cops would be off the streets guarding the malls of America, and these law firms would make a ton of money.

nasch (profile) says:

Involuntary participation in the justice system

They have a job to do , and if you want to get involved, then do so… just don’t complain when your involvement gets you in a situation you’d rather not be in.

Yeah, if you want to try to do something about police violating civil rights, don’t complain if the police violate your civil rights. Makes perfect sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

This is exactly what I expect, because the situations where bystanders film public interactions, especially ones involving police officers’ performance in the field, are increasingly common, and the trend is going in reverse. So I expect police to be trained to know:

(a) their performance can, is, and will continue to be filmed whether they like it or not; and
(b) how to handle these situations professionally and with deference to US citizens’ civil rights.

I HOPE an officer knows that ignoring (a) & (b) can result in him looking like a thuggish, incompetent asshole in a very public forum.

Quite the idealistic pipe dream, I know.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re:

And then the phone gets sent to people like myself (Digital Forensics) who recover that evidence (if it was there) and not only do the prosecution then have evidence of the crime but also have evidence of wilful(?) destruction of evidence.

The prosecution get a double win all over what was in fact a wrongful seizure UNLESS there was exigent reason to obtain the phone because destruction was imminent or reasonably expected by owner.

If no exigent reason the LEO has to get a warrant.

Richard says:

Recording police vs seizure of phones/cameras as evidence

The Pixiq site had an article about whether police have the right to confiscate cameras. Among the two attorneys who contributed, Marc Randazza said that police might be able to subpoena a copy of a video recording but that confiscating a camera on the spot would not be justified. Bert Krages II said that a camera generally cannot be seized by police without a court order unless the camera has been used in the commission of a crime (i.e. counterfeiting.) At the same time, Randazza said that it may not be easy to disregard an officer who unlawfully demands to seize a camera and that “No camera is worth losing your life over.” (In a case such as the 2009 Oakland BART shooting, where a person has been seriously hurt or killed at the hands of a police officer, this may be particularly important.) Even so, calling up an attorney on the spot might be useful. An issue that the Pixiq article may not have anticipated is if a video recording includes evidence of a crime that can possibly be seized by police (i.e. for the purpose of preservation.) The comments for the article talk about this issue, although not all of the claims have sources and it may not be easy reading.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has given advice about using cell phones at protests. Among other things there is the recommendation to use an alternate “throwaway” phone if there is a high chance of arrest and/or the phone being seized. In addition, it is claimed that police can seize a phone (or presumably a camera) that they believe to hold evidence of a crime. On the issue of recording police activity, the Flex Your Rights site has a guide about avoiding trouble when recording police. Among other things, it is recommended that videographers try to avoid sharing video footage with police in a manner that ties the video to them. The guide does not mention the situation of being ordered to hand over a camera, but it does touch upon such situations as a videographer being told that recording is unlawful or being ordered to stop recording.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Evidence

> Film, not camera. As in, it’s what the camera recorded, i.e. the
> data, that’s seized, not the phone.

And once the video has been forensically removed from a phone in accordance with chain of custody and the rules of evidence promulgated by federal and state courts, then the owner is entitled to have his/her device returned.

> CCTV cameras aren’t seized by the cops if they observe a crime.

CCTV cameras don’t come with passwords, encryption, and/or software designed to alter/delete evidence. Nor is the evidence stored within the camera itself.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Good reason for something like dropbox

Are you using CM7 nightlies? If so, you don’t have to wipe everything on your phone to upgrade. Simply wipe the dalvik cache then install the ROM and it’ll do an in place update on the current nightly. That’s what I’ve been doing lately with the CM9 nightlies.

But, however, regarding the Google+ ability to upload stuff (as well as Google Drive), I fear you may be right. We all know Google is an evil piracy genius. I have a ton of legitimate stuff stored on my Google Drive. Documents, pictures, ROMs, etc. Nothing illegal. But I could if I wanted to. And I could easily share it with anyone thanks to the “Share” feature. And we all know that any place where someone may potentially store a copyrighted work is very much a piracy haven and to hell with all the legitimate use. (A problem I feel regarding Megaupload, due to all the ROMs and apps lost over at the XDA forums that were hosted there.) Luckily I make multiple backups on my local hard drive, external hard drive, various usb drives, as well as other cloud services and cyberlockers (like Dropbox).

dwg (profile) says:

Re:

I’m from the planet where cops have a device that can pull all data from a smartphone simply by plugging that device into the phone and pressing a button. You’re from the same planet, because that device exists and the cops have them.

http://www.geek.com/articles/news/michigan-police-can-scan-all-of-your-phones-data-in-less-than-2-minutes-20110421/

Good enough for you? Seem like a better solution than reaching into a woman’s bra for her phone while her hands are cuffed behind her?

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Good reason for something like dropbox

Are you using CM7 nightlies? If so, you don’t have to wipe everything on your phone to upgrade. Simply wipe the dalvik cache then install the ROM and it’ll do an in place update on the current nightly.

Yes, though I am still quite a way behind current. I’ll have to try this out. Been listening to the developers tell me I should wipe everything so often, but really it is just an excuse for me to blow everything away and start over. I’m at CM9 for my Nook, and want to take the leap on the phone…just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

e all know Google is an evil piracy genius. I have a ton of legitimate stuff stored on my Google Drive. Documents, pictures, ROMs, etc. Nothing illegal.

Me as well. All sorts of crap, including stuff for various MMORPGs I play, including a bunch of noob-training stuff for a particular game of the internet spaceship variety (pew pew.) I learned what sharepoint should be like playing with Google Docs this way. If Google ever gets raided like MegaUpload, I will be in real trouble (even though everything is backed up,) just because that is such a damn easy way to get stuff shared with the people I need to share it with (all legal to distribute since it came from my own sweat and I’ve released as public domain.) All I have to do is post the tiny url or goog.le link and everyone on the team has access.

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