NYPD Officers Expect Public To Be Stupider Than They Are; Justify Shutting Down Recording With 'iPhones Are Guns' Claim

from the you-can't-fix-stupid,-you-can-only-assign-it-to-desk-duty dept

When the appeal to authority fallacy doesn’t work, try appealing to ludicrousness. That seems to be the M.O. in play here. NYPD officers arrested a bicyclist for running a red light, but that arrest wasn’t effected until the bicyclist attempted to film the interaction. Here’s all ten seconds of it before the cop shut the arrestee’s impromptu shooting down.

Will Paybarah, the scofflaw in question, received this memorable explanation for the hasty neutralizing of his iPhone while sitting in the back seat of the unmarked squad car.

I was told by another officer while in the car that recording a police officer was illegal because people are using iPhones as guns and shooting cops through the camera lens…I told him that I have the right to be recording a cop and he said that there were incidents, specifically in uptown Manhattan where a kid shot a cop with his iPhone. Straight face. Very serious.

Now, it’s true that recording footage is often slangily referred as “shooting footage,” and that cops are increasingly on the receiving end of these types of “shootings.” But there has yet to be any evidence produced that indicates phones and cameras are being converted into guns on any sort of mass scale or that these new hybrids are so common that this “fear” has a rational basis.

A kid may have “shot” a cop with his iPhone, but without any data to back up this claim, the only thing taking a hit was the officer’s mistaken belief that public service is afforded an expectation of privacy. Cops telling citizens this sort of cop-centric urban legend to defend the trampling of the First Amendment indicates that they believe citizens are idiots.

Paybarah, meanwhile, spent 13 hours in lockup over a red light infraction. Well, not entirely. By the time the cop was finished effecting the arrest of the person holding the theoretically weaponized iPhone, charges of resisting arrest, obstruction and criminal mischief had been added — charges that are just as malleable as cops’ minds.

Cops walk or drive by plenty of people holding “weapons” in plain sight, all of them unlicensed and potentially deadly. An overwhelming majority of the public wouldn’t even consider leaving the house without being “strapped,” and yet, months and years go by without cops being shot in the face by iGuns. Perhaps the police chalk up this low rate of deadly incidents to their expedient neutralization of camera gun wielders. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance and all that, and the cops can’t be expected to protect the freedoms they’ll take from you if they’re constantly being “shot” by armed citizens.

Better safe than sorry — that’s the real intent of the Constitution. An officer getting home safe (and unrecorded) at the end of every shift is a far worthier goal than the vague rights pre-supposed to idiot citizens by a handful of amendments.

Maybe the cops should switch out their service pieces for deadly cameras — you know, in order to keep up with “the streets” in the arms race. That way, the next time they get drunk and start shooting, the end result will be nothing more than a bunch of shitty Instagrams.

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Comments on “NYPD Officers Expect Public To Be Stupider Than They Are; Justify Shutting Down Recording With 'iPhones Are Guns' Claim”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Fair enough...

If a kid, did, in fact shoot at an officer, then somewhere, somehow, some way, there MUST BE AN ARREST REPORT. Surely something as significant as this WOULDN’T be swept under the rug!

Show me – until I see that, this “officer” is just another lying sack of shit who MUST be doing something wrong, since he obviously has something to hide.

limbodog (profile) says:

If you're not smart enough to figure this out, maybe "cop" is too challenging a job for you

The only actual cases of guns being hidden in phones was in russia, and the phone was a brick phone not an ultra-thin smart phone. And even if it were possible to fit a gun inside a smartphone (it’d have to be a custom caliber smaller than a .22) it would have to be fit lengthwise, and it’d require removing the guts of the actual phone. A functional smartphone is proof that it is not a gun.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If you're not smart enough to figure this out, maybe "cop" is too challenging a job for you

Indeed, I was thinking that it would be pertinent to request the NYPD produce such an engineering marvel for us to inspect – as firing a round from the camera lens of an iphone is certainly going to require some interesting twisting of physics.

We’d likely be talking about something that would effectively be a BB or air gun pellet with a compressed air mechanism to actually fire the “bullet”, as there simply wouldn’t be enough room in an iphone casing for a full shell casing fit in that direction.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: If you're not smart enough to figure this out, maybe "cop" is too challenging a job for you

you could make a gun within the case of an iphone.
sure, the barrel would be zero length.
but if you remove all the iphone internals,
you could have a place for a firing pin that moves sideways, hits a custom primer which directs its force through an angled pipe to behind the bullet which would fly forward.
aim would be awful.
and I think there could be enough force to break the skin, though not a skull.
at close range the expansion of as and propellant might actually be more dangerous.
and you’d have to hol the phone in such a way that it wouldn’t flay backwards into your face.
BUT.. you could, with some machining skills, make a projectile fly through a loosened lens of an iphone.
although it could be much more efficient (and even possibly deadly) if you ignored the ‘shoot from the lens’ concept and had the barrel masquerading as the audio plug.
the bullet would still be smaller than a .22, as I think the .22 is too big to fit within the thickness of the phone, but that just means a smaller caliber bullet.
if I was a machinist, I would say “challenge accepted!”.

Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

Re: Re: Re: If you're not smart enough to figure this out, maybe "cop" is too challenging a job for you

I am certain that this person, expecting a confrontation with cops (the whole running a red light being to attract them so he could kill them), ripped up a perfectly good iPhone and built in a pathetic weapon in a suboptimal position and then pretended to film the cop (to lure him in even more, cops hate to be filmed) with the nonfunctional camera just so he could kill them, despite far more effective ways.

Or it could just be the cop doesn’t want to be filmed and will make up any excuse to avoid it, but like that would EVER happen, cops always tell the truth right?

How much longer until douchey douchebags get whats says:

Considering what went down at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada

It may not be all that long before some “innocent” bystanders take the law in to their own hands and stop individual “peace officers” from breaking the law in a real and permanent way.

If any reaction to the NYPD twitter account is a measure of satisfaction with “Law Enforcement” I think the day may be closer at hand than one realizes.

But perhaps I’m just being optimistic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If you’re referring to the right to bear arms, it wouldn’t apply if you were actually pointing a weapon at an approaching officer, so no. (If you’re referring to something else, you should clarify.)

Not that it actually had any possibility of being a weapon. I refuse to believe that someone used an iPhone as a gun to shoot a police officer and that fact was not reported in the media. That’s the sort of story they’d eat up, and there’s no way they’d overlook it if it involved an officer getting shot.

Anonymous Coward says:

Deterring police misconduct

?Police Indemnification?, by Joanna C. Schwartz, January, 2014

This Article empirically examines an issue central to judicial and scholarly debate about civil rights damages actions: whether law enforcement officials are financially responsible for settlements and judgments in police misconduct cases. The Supreme Court has long assumed that law enforcement officers personally satisfy settlements and judgments, and has limited individual defendant and government liability in civil rights damages actions ? through qualified immunity, municipal liability standards, and limitations on punitive damages ? based in part on this assumption. Scholars are ambivalent: some believe officers almost always satisfy settlements and judgments against them and others contend indemnification is not a certainty.

In this Article, I report the findings of a national study of police indemnification. Through public records requests, interviews, and other sources, I have collected information about indemnification practices in 44 of the largest law enforcement agencies across the country, and 37 mid-sized and small agencies. My study reveals that police officers are virtually always indemnified: during the study period, governments paid approximately 99.98% of the dollars that plaintiffs recovered in lawsuits alleging civil rights violations by law enforcement. Law enforcement officers in my study never satisfied a punitive damages award entered against them and almost never contributed anything to settlements or judgments ? even when indemnification was prohibited by law or policy, and even when officers were disciplined, terminated, or prosecuted for their conduct. After describing my findings, this Article considers the implications of widespread indemnification for qualified immunity, municipal liability, and punitive damages doctrine; civil rights litigation practice; and the deterrence and compensation goals of ? 1983.

Anonymous Coward says:

I heard you’re not allowed to film a thug while he’s in the process of arresting you. It’s OK if your friends film the thug while he’s arresting you, but you can’t film thugs if they’re arresting you, personally.

These individuals demonstrate how to film thugs correctly.


Rapnel (profile) says:


As clear as it was that the officer was of the asshole persuasion (“I am your authori-tie, yield or die” as opposed to, you know, intelligent) the instruction to put the phone away seems a legit request being that the cyclist was detained for an infraction. If he had it rolling while attached to his bicycle instead of “derp, I’m recording this interaction, it’s not a iGun, pinky swear” it may have never been an issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: err

“I am your authori-tie, yield or die”

Police Juice Up on Steroids to Get ‘Edge’ on Criminals, by Susan James, ABC, Oct 18, 2007

‘Juicing’ Across the Country
Gene Sanders, a Spokane, Wash., police psychologist, estimates that up to 25 percent of all police officers in urban settings with gangs and high crime use steroids ? many of them defensively.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 err

Hm, I’d be of the opinion that it would appear that the officer was unreasonably executing a reasonable request. For the officer to be “reasonably” justified in touching another individual he must be reasonably certain that he’s explained (or better, understands) the present circumstance. The officer committed an assault (his offensive, legally) for, apparently, no other reason than he could.

So, yeah, the officer is unreasonably executing a reasonable request. Anger, determination and authority coupled with fuckall intelligent design where a superior officer would be quite clear, polite and reasonable in this non-combative setting. (can confirm, have been superiorally officered)

Feldie47 (profile) says:

No surprise here

For those Big Apple residents who remember a decade or so ago when the Bloomberg administration was negotiating with the NYPD for a salary contract and was so proud of itself for getting the starting salary to be unbelievably LOW, this comes as no surprise. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. Want to hire cops for the salary you’d pay a baby-sitter? It’s time for US citizens to consider the quality they really want in their government employees, hospital workers, teachers, etc. Dumb is really expensive in the long run. No surprises here. And, no, I’m not a government employee.

Feldie47 (profile) says:

Re: Re: No surprise here

Actually you don’t; not to that extent. Head out to the NY suburbs and stupidity like that pretty much gets tossed off the force. The town’s taxpayers would be very vocal. In the city there’s a whole lot of insulation there. It’s easier for that ignorance to exist for a longer period of time.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: No surprise here

Nationwide, though, I don’t see a tremendous difference between the well-paid and the not-so-well-paid forces in terms of their abusiveness. Logic tells me there must be some difference, but it’s invisible to my eyes and I don’t know of any studies of this. Some of the most hair-raising stories of abuse I’ve read come from extremely (I would argue overly) well funded cops.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:


Reminds me of the trucks that say “Safety is our number one goal!”

Well, no. Your number one goal is to haul stuff from place to place. A close second might be doing so safely, but staying home is safer than not.

Likewise, the police and the laws they enforce do not exist primarily to get cops home safe. Yes, officer safety is a close second, but if you’re not going to protect and serve the public, you might as well stay home.

Anonymous Coward says:

Within the past few days or so (maybe it was yesterday) two cops were hit by someone in an SUV and one died and the other was critically injured. The person in the SUV literally got out of the vehicle and ran. Yesterday this was all over the news.

If a cop gets killed (or dies) it makes headline news. They have a huge police ceremony with all the cops attending and talking about how good of a person this was and how he didn’t deserve this, etc..

The reason I know the cop saying that people have been ‘shot’ by this method is a lie is because I haven’t seen any huge media parades over such incidents.

fred1369 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

the 2 Alaskan state troopers who were shot and killed a few days ago made national new.
Search Google: 1. cop shoots 10 lb. dog because he feared for his life (several of those) 2. cop shoots boy holding a Nintendo Wii 3. cops riddle truck that was the wrong make, wrong color, and had 2 women in it delivering newspapers.
4.Cop shoots mentally challenged boy while negotiators were talking him down. 5. FBI shoots woman in the neck while she is standing on the porch holding her baby. 6. cops bust down door and shoot 92 yr old grandmother who was holding a gun because of the neighborhood crime. 7. cop shoots young man running towards him for help. 8. I could go on but you get the idea.

zip says:

something I learned

Something I learned years ago, when video cameras were much bigger (big enough to have potentially contained a hidden gun inside) , was that whenever approached by a cop while filming, you’d generally get a much less hostile attitude from one if you lowered your camera and pointed it at the ground (while keeping it on until told otherwise). Aiming it at the cop’s face from arm’s-length away while answering his questions was like waving a cape in front of a bull.

While you might have every *right* to film cops without breaking any laws, just remember that in the “real world” there is basically just one law: Don’t anger cops.

And maybe one rule-of-thumb: anyone who doesn’t cooperate 100% with authorities (inc. standing up for one’s Constitutional rights) is a criminal with something to hide.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: something I learned

Aiming it at the cop’s face from arm’s-length away while answering his questions was like waving a cape in front of a bull.

Perhaps the cop should have considered the camera before walking up to the person filming. I mean, if he REALLY considers it a physical threat, then coming CLOSER to it sounds like a monumentally stupid thing to do.

just remember that in the “real world” there is basically just one law: Don’t anger cops.

This has got to be some of the most ridiculous “advice” – if a cop is BREAKING the law, I really don’t give a shit as to how angry he gets, no more than the crack head getting angry after getting caught robbing the convenience store.

Being passive to having your rights violated is BEING PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: something I learned

No, if you really want to do it. Do it right.

1. Do it in pairs. One filming the cops. Another filming the first guy a little ways away.

2. Use technology that automatically offloads the media to another location where it cannot be tampered with even if your equipment is seized.

3. Have your equipment insured against breakage.

4. Research all the applicable laws and police policies prior in order to avoid accidentally giving the cops anything they can actually use against you meanwhile being able to recognize any and all missteps the police may make.

5. Have competent counsel that is prepared to handle the case should things get ugly.

6. Build relationships with people in the media that would be interested in spreading the story.

John Cressman (profile) says:

It's possible

As someone with knowledge of both guns and iphones, I can tell you it would be nearly impossible to shoot to turn an iphone into a gun.

The smallest standard caliber is a .22 bullet. In a modern iphone (iphone 5), there is simply not enough room to put a barrel and firing mechanism in a 0.30 inch (7.6 mm) thickness iphone 5 case. The barrel needed to prevent the iphone from exploding would be at least twice that width.

There is NO truth to that statement. While it might be possible to make a firearm out of a thicker phone/case, it would be a single shot device that would be hard to operate, impossible to reload and would have a risk of exploding.

Feldie47 (profile) says:

Actually that’s correct, but for the union quip.
The citizens who pay those high prop. taxes definitely won’t put up with stupid and uncivilized behavior. The union in those towns has made the unspoken tradeoff, increased pay, more citizen involvement, higher caliber of police civility and less confrontation.

They express it to their union members as follows: You’re getting better pay and benefits and the demands are greater. Deal with it or go elsewhere.

Same can be said of the teacher’s situation and other.

Anonymous Coward says:

After reviewing that footage I notice that the video seems to mostly avoid showing any clear pictures of the face of this alleged cop and it’s hard to really get a good look the uniform to see if it’s legit (and how would I know anyways)? Maybe this video was rigged by the video recorder and his friend and the other person is not a real cop?

Was this video shot by Azi Paybarah?

If so, where is that indicated?

I’m not saying it’s fake but I would like some more authentication.

Mark Noo (profile) says:

Apparently our local cops are no longer here to help normal people and keep violent criminals away from us. Looks like they have come to keep us in line.

Is there a review board that can see if this guy is too stupid to be a cop. If he cannot tell the difference between a gun and a phone can he be allowed to be a cop. What if he sees someone with a pencil, assumes it is a knife, and shoots the person. What if he thinks a ten year old with a backpack is a terrorist?

If he grabbed the cell phone and he had no right is that battery. It looked like he got physical with the guy.

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