Nothing Changes: Cops Still Threatening Citizens, Breaking Laws To Shut Down Recordings

from the low-level-thuggery dept

The NYPD should know better. In August, it handed a $125,000 settlement to a man it arrested for recording officers performing a stop-and-frisk. A month earlier, the ACLU sued the NYPD in federal court to prevent the NYPD from arresting the people recording them. It’s even clearly stated in the NYPD policy manual that “bystanders are allowed to film [officers] as long as they’re not interfering with the officers’ duties and/or police operations.”

And yet, the message hasn’t gotten through. A man was harassed and had his cellphone battery stolen by an officer who claimed he was interfering with an arrest occurring 30 feet away. NYPD officers have tried other tactics as well, such as laughably claiming a cellphone could be a gun. A man is choked to death by an NYPD officer — with the whole incident being recorded — and police officers claim the citizens who record cops are to blame.

But the message hasn’t gotten through. And why should it? As some have openly stated, respecting this right has no upside for police officers. So, they continue to harass and threaten members of the public who try to exercise this right. The incident captured here is particularly chilling. As Reason’s Ed Krayewski points out, the officer caught on tape here delivers an implicit threat of violence to the person wielding the camera. (The confrontation begins about 2:30 into the video.)

From the photographer:

The European cop tells me that I am making him nervous by simply speaking and not to make him fear for his safety.

The phrase “fear for my safety” has been used by cops to justify heinous actions, like the killing of unarmed members of the public, or the vindictive deployment of excessive force. A cop saying, “Don’t make me fear for my safety,” is a cop telling you he’s ready to beat you, shoot you or otherwise do you harm. It’s the baring of fangs. The rattle of snake’s tail. It’s a phrase no cop should deliver, especially to a person who’s doing nothing illegal and poses zero threat to anyone.

This next incident, coming our way via Ex-Cop Law Student, shows multiple violations of the law, all of it by the officer in the recording.

The setup is this: an open-carry advocate is standing on a street corner carrying an AR-15 and some signs while handing out pamphlets containing open-carry law information. That’s when two cops roll up and shut him down.

Not only does the officer express irritation with the open-carry law (and the person openly carrying a weapon), but he throws his sign to the ground and begins demanding that the person show him some ID. The cop can demand this all he wants, but he actually has to make an arrest before this demand carries any legal weight. Ex-Cop Law Student breaks down every legal violation the law enforcement officer performs during this 4-minute video.

[T]he arrest at 1:43 for Failure to ID because officer 4771 is “tired of you idiots coming out here.” OK. So now we know that 4771 is completely ignorant of § 38.02, Tex. Pen. Code. Not having an ID on one’s person is not an element of the offense. For that matter, refusing to identify at all is not an offense, unless you have arrested him on another charge, which you have not.

Now we get to the good part, which shows 4771 is a complete idiot. If you are going to commit a felony, don’t do it on camera.

At 1:53, idiot 4771 says that we taking the phone off and “we’re going to erase it.” Guys, there’s your felony by the officer. Texas law states that Tampering With or Fabricating Physical Evidence is:

“(a) A person commits an offense if, knowing that an investigation or official proceeding is pending or in progress, he:

(1) alters, destroys, or conceals any record, document, or thing with intent to impair its verity, legibility, or availability as evidence in the investigation or official proceeding; . . .”

Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 37.09 (Vernon).

Fortunately for the cop (I suppose…), he couldn’t actually manage to erase the recording. If he had done so, it would be a third-degree felony carrying a prison sentence of 2-10 years. But because the technology outwitted him, he’s only on the hook for a second-degree felony (6 months-2 years). Of course, he likely won’t be on the hook for any of this once the IA investigation is over. Cops who do this sort of thing rarely find themselves behind bars.

But, as Ex-Cop Law Student points out, this recording should be enough to damage Badge #4771’s credibility in any case he’s involved with.

So from now on, at each and every court appearance made by officer 4771, the defense attorney should be informed of this information. That means that the cross-examination would not be very pleasant, if it comes to that. It likely won’t because most District Attorney’s will not touch a case where one of the police witnesses is tarnished like that.   So now officer 4771 is useless as a witness.

You can argue about where exactly open-carry advocates fall on the thin line between clever and stupid but the bottom line is this: those enforcing laws should know the laws they’re enforcing. They should also know that the right to record police officers is guaranteed. There is no state law that preempts the Constitution. The US government itself has handed down guidance on this very issue.

That’s bad enough, but in each situation, officers went further, threatening citizens with violence and breaking laws themselves. Citizens aren’t given the leeway cops are, nor are they provided with any sort of immunity for their stupid actions. Cops have both their departments and legal protection on their side and that’s what leads to — and encourages — this sort of behavior.

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Comments on “Nothing Changes: Cops Still Threatening Citizens, Breaking Laws To Shut Down Recordings”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Future court transcript

Prosecution for cameraman: Your Honor, we have video evidence that Officer 4771 attempted to delete the recording contained on my client’s camera, along with a sworn statement to that effect.

Judge: Is this true Officer?

Officer 4771: Well, I seem to recall it different. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who tried to delete the evidence, and blame me for it, not the other way around Your Honor.

Prosecution: Need I remind the court that we have video evidence of the accused attempting to delete evidence that, according to his attempt to arrest my client, was evidence of a crime?

Judge: Hmm… well, I know you claim the video shows one thing, but since cops are never wrong, clearly your video is in error. As such, I’m dismissing the charges against the Officer, and will be submitting a request that your client be brought up on felony charges for attempting to delete evidence linked to an ongoing arrest. Officer 4771, you’ll receive a notice in the mail shortly, we’ll need your testimony of what really happened to put that fiend away for trying to frame you.

Court dismissed.

(Why no as a matter of fact, I don’t have any faith in the ‘justice’ system anymore, why do you ask?)

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The article says cops are, "Cops who do this sort of thing rarely find themselves behind bars. "

‘Jones was stopped Sept. 4 as he pulled into a convenience store on a busy Columbia road. With the camera recording, Groubert pulls up without his siren on as Jones is getting out of his vehicle to go into the store.

“Can I see your license please?” Groubert asks.

As Jones turns and reaches back into his car, Groubert shouts, “Get outa the car, get outa the car.” He begins firing before he has finished the second sentence. There is a third shot as Jones staggers away, backing up with his hands raised, and then a fourth.

From the first shot to the fourth, the video clicks off three seconds.

Jones’ wallet can be seen flying out of his hands as he raises them.’

So the cop pulls up behind someone who had just parked and exited his vehicle, asks to see the drivers license, and then, when the guy reaches into his car to get it, pulls and shoots him four times because the guy was trying to follow his instructions.

And of course, at trial the defense pulled out the ever so popular, ‘My client feared for his life’, which clearly excuses trying to kill someone for following orders. /s

They really do hire cowardly, trigger happy morons for the police these days don’t they?

The one upsides to the story would seem to be the fact that amazingly the victim survived; apparently alongside being a trigger happy coward, the cop was (thankfully) a terrible shot, and the fact that the ex-cops’ boss didn’t just brush it off and claim it was acceptable, but fired him for his actions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The article says cops are, "Cops who do this sort of thing rarely find themselves behind bars. "

fired him, didn’t arrest him and charge him with attempted murder. Wasn’t sentenced to 20-30 years jail, just got fired.

While I applaud them for firing him they should have treated him like any non cop that had shot at someone in the first place.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The article says cops are, "Cops who do this sort of thing rarely find themselves behind bars. "

He was charged… sorta… but even then the double-standards are kicking in. He was charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison.’

(Assuming the court actually finds him guilty, could be anywhere between 1-20 years, but I would be surprised it ended up even being 10, and very surprised if it even reached 5, simply because he was a cop who ‘feared for his life’, a magic phrase that seems to excuse any action as long as it’s a cop/ex-cop making it in court)

Now, compare that to the following, from lower down in the same article:

This isn’t the first time Groubert fired his service weapon. In August 2012, Groubert and another trooper chased a man who drove away from a traffic stop and fired at the suspect after he shot first, according to the Highway Patrol. The suspect was convicted of attempted murder and is spending 20 years in prison.

So he took four shots at someone, and through sheer dumb luck on the victim’s part, only managed to hit him in the hip, and for that he’s been charged with ‘assault and battery’. Someone takes a shot at him, and they get charged with attempted murder.

‘One law for me, another for thee’ yet again rears it’s ugly head.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The article says cops are, "Cops who do this sort of thing rarely find themselves behind bars. "

“And of course, at trial the defense pulled out the ever so popular, ‘My client feared for his life’, which clearly excuses trying to kill someone for following orders. /s”

I realize you tagged that as sarcasm, but it’s actually the truth when it comes to cops and the so-called justice system.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The article says cops are, "Cops who do this sort of thing rarely find themselves behind bars. "

Yeah, just a wee bit disgusting that rampant cowardice is seen an an acceptable excuse to gun someone down at the slightest provocation.

Even worse when it’s completely one-sided, a cop can kill a civilian because he ‘feared for his life’, and the system will nod it’s head and say ‘Of course, his number one priority is protecting his own life from any potential threats’, but if a civilians did the same thing? Even to another civilian?

“Well your Honor, I asked if he had the time, and he reached into his jacket for something. I feared for my life, so I quickly pulled the concealed pistol I carry and gunned him down. Turns out he was probably just reaching for his cell phone, but how was I to know that at the time, my life was on the line!”

Yeah, no way in hell that would be acceptable in court if a civilian was the one saying it, yet a cop does it and suddenly it’s a perfectly reasonable response.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Sadly true.

As long as the police continue down the path of ‘It’s better to be respected than feared, but the latter is easier and more satisfying, so we’ll go with it’ it’s not if, but when, that the public will finally take matters into their own hands.

You can only instill so much fear before your victim, in this case the public, strikes back out of self-preservation, that’s human nature. And when it happens, when the tide finally turns against them, they’ll have only themselves to blame.

Treat the public as your enemy for long enough, and it’s only a matter of time until they return the favor, and if the rest of the ‘justice’ system has proven, again and again, that it has no interest in protecting the public from it’s ‘defenders’, then people will end up taking the matter in their own hands out of necessity, having lost their faith in the system.

It will not be a pleasant sight.

cbpelto (profile) says:

Re: Re: Laws gone crazy

RE: It’s Not the Law

It’s what has become of the doctrine of ‘Qualified Immunity’ and innocents are being murdered by the police.

Here’s a short list of some of them:

• Jonathan Ferrell — Charlotte NC, running to the police after surviving an auto accident….gets gunned down.
• John Winkler — LA, gunned down running towards a sheriff’s deputy as he was fleeing the man who had held him hostage with a knife.
• Michael Davidson — USAF, gunned down by a state trooper as he was walking towards him after a traffic accident he was involved in.
• Alfred Redwing — Albuquerque, NM, unarmed and shot on the front porch of his home after he’d been SWAT’d and was dumb enough to come out into the direct line of fire as the police had demanded.
• Eric Scott — Las Vegas, NV, gunned down in the Costco parking lot because he had a concealed carry permit.
• Tamir Rice — 12-year old playing in a Cleveland, OH, park with an airsoft pistol. Police shot him dead within 2 seconds of their arrival on the scene.
• Aiyana Stanley-Jones — 7-year old in Detroit. Shot by police while she slept on a couch.
• John Crawford III, 22, was fatally shot by law enforcement inside a Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart on Aug. 5 within minutes of a 911 call from a fellow Walmart shopper. He was carrying a BB gun he considered buying.
• Dillon Taylor — Unarmed. Killed by the Salt Lake City police because he moved his hands when the officer demanded he show his hands. The DA found no reason to charge the officer.
• Jose Guerena — Tucson, AZ. Shot 60 times in a no-knock drug raid that found no drugs. He had the temerity to think the crashing of his door down was a home invasion and was prepared to defend his wife. So they shot him.
• D’Andre Berghardt — Las Vegas, NV, had been walking down the highway trying to hitch a ride when police approached him. His behavior was erratic, and eventually he tried to climb inside a police vehicle — at which point he was shot dead.

Qualified Immunity = Kill with Impunity

Todd Shore (profile) says:

Too many lawyers suggest that you should just follow along with the LEO and worry about cleaning up the legalities later. As soon as the LEO violates someone’s Constitutional rights or commits a felony then they are no longer in commission of their duty. I am waiting for the test case where a LEO pulls a firearm while violating someone’s rights, they are shot dead by someone that has committed no crime, and we have a true test case. Heaven help the court that rules against the civilian.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yea, that is the problem… cleaning up the legalities in court later solves nothing because this is not the first time an office has abused their authority without consequences.

Since the system do not actually resolve the issue, the people will begin to challenge the system peacefully and possibility violently when they get tired of seeing the abuse continue.

The is essentially what the Ferguson riots were about. Had it been a citizen shooting a cop in self defense with MILLIONS of witnesses AND video indicating it was self defense they would have been indicted anyways, long before it was on the news.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, “cop killers” get shot by other cops. Even when you’re suspected of shooting at cops when your car backfires, they come at you in force. If they do accidentally manage to capture you instead of kill you, there’s no telling what happens to you when you’re in lockup or awaiting trial.

See also: Police Shoot 137 Times Into Car After Chase, Killing Unarmed Couple

Todd Shore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Cool. “Thrown in jail” is just another point in the conversation with the decade long legal public discussion popping up in press every few years that goes along with it. At some point, it WILL happen. Waiting…

Do I have to be the ONE that adds that talking point? Am I just a pussy that is too afraid to push? Opportunity missing?

Is this post is getting to be more and more just one more piece of evidence at some future trial? Does it matter if it is formed in the form of a question? If cops can lie, can the citizenry, especially when in “just” a blog? Or is a posting “absolute”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

happened in texas where police did an unlawful forced entry into someones home in the dead of night. man thought they were burglars opened fire and killed a cop. The police charged him with the usual crimes. Never mind the police never identified themselves and he thought they were criminals he should have known they were cops breaking into his home.

Though last I had heard this went to trial and he was aquitted for the simple fact the prosecutions arguments were insane. There was no way he could have known they were cops before he opened fire.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Too many lawyers suggest that you should just follow along with the LEO and worry about cleaning up the legalities later.”

The problem isn’t really the advice as such: the same advice is useful when encountering other kinds of criminals as well. Always just give your wallet to the mugger, etc. The problem is the claim that justice can actually be restored later in the process. I think this is obviously impossible (except in certain very rare circumstances).

I think the right way to word the advice is to make it the same as with every encounter with a violent threat: defuse the violence however you can, then you’ll be alive later to hopefully be able to engage in some form of healing.

DonM says:

Re: Re:

Fascism never dies by itself. It has to be put down by better men than the Fascists.

It can be put down by rebellion (as in Yugoslavia and Norway) or by invasion (as in France, Italy, Belgium, and Germany).

It can even be put down by election and by law, as in the return to law in the US after the Wilson administration, or by the reining in of petty despots that seem to gravitate to homeowner’s associations.

Roger says:

The solution

It’s obvious that people MUST take the law, and justice, into their own hands. Depending on corrupt courts, criminal police, monstrous judges, and disgusting politicians is clearly not the solution — the system is fundamentally corrupt. Begging on your knees does nothing except embolden these scum.
Have we forgotten that was have citizens’ arrest powers? We need to stop standing idly by and overcome criminal police with numbers and arrest them on the spot. If more police come to violate the laws and our rights, they too are subject to arrest. Organized, planned defense will win out against the criminals every time, even if they’re armed to the teeth.
It is also vital to ensure that every portion of the encounter is captured on video to counter the immediate MSM criminal absolution and justification that is sure to result.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: The solution

“We need to stop standing idly by and overcome criminal police with numbers and arrest them on the spot.”

“Citizen’s arrest” laws vary from state to state (in some states, there’s simply no such thing.) If you really intend on doing this sort of thing, you should be sure what your state laws are on this point. It’s very easy to get it wrong and end up committing a felony yourself.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: The solution

If you really intend on doing this sort of thing, you should be sure what your state laws are on this point. It’s very easy to get it wrong and end up committing a felony yourself.

If you’re trying to arrest police officers, committing a felony should be the least of your worries. Someone is going to get shot in that situation, regardless of the legalities.

BW (profile) says:

Re: I disagree completely. There are good people. We must

Find them, support them (with money not just lip-service), hold them accountable, and reward their just efforts. Taking the law into your own hands just empowers the murders of random people – as happened in New York with those two police officers who were murdered. No “Justice” was done. The murder of the unarmed black man who was selling cigarettes, Eric Garner, was not avenged. Rather, the police feel more certain than ever (in my estimation of their mind-set) that they were right. The REAL cause of the deaths, and by that I mean the people who gave the police the power to kill with impunity and who protected that minority of the police who are abusive, continue to consolidate their power.

We need instead to stop the violence and use our minds – not our emotions – to guide our acts. We need to support BETTER government (EVEN IF IT’S NOT THE BEST GOVERNMENT) and work to get rid of lobbyists and power-brokers.

BW (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I disagree completely. There are good people. We must

Look, you agree there are at least SOME good cops. Vigilantism will simply kill the good with the bad. The cops who DO NOTHING are in a bad spot. They cannot say anything or they will be killed – it has happened many times before. They also cannot quit. Most of them, like most of us, have spent years and thousands of dollars, and lots of sweat, getting into their jobs. They have people and kids,and mortgages, and car payments, that demand that they keep working – and working at at least their current salary. Even if they did quit – they could still be killed by any dishonest cop that felt threatened – even easier after quitting the force.

cbpelto (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I disagree completely. There are good people. We must

RE: Some ‘Good’ Ones

Based on my experience—being SWAT’d last January—there are none in my department. Otherwise the lies told against me would have been shouted down.

Instead, all the recordings handed over to my attorney indicated that all the ones I’ve dealt with in this matter are pathological liars.

Show me a ‘good’ one and I’ll show you someone who is covering for someone else.

Probably out of fear of losing their job….if not their life for ‘ratting out’ another.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Black and White thinking much? (no pun intended)

Putting their needs before yours, or lying when telling the truth is punished, doesn’t make them evil. It makes them human.your life is going to be full of disappointment if you think that everyone who isn’t perfect is evil. If you haven’t already, read about the Milgram experiments. Police society is dehumanizing, and it probably explains their high suicide rate. We need to put politicians who support “law and order” before justice out of office.we need to call waterboarding torture, because that’s what it is. We need to make everyone accountable to the law, and in the short term we need to make sure that the law that just passed in Illinois foes pass anywhere else.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Purge it and start again

Justify all the bad-cop behavior all you want, and still people are getting gunned down with impunity. People are getting robbed with impunity. People are getting spied on with impunity.

If what you say is true, that people in the institution can’t help themselves but continue these behaviors because of human nature, then it’s time to change the institution.

And then I’d argue that the same human nature will cause them to not freely relinquish the power they have. They’ll fight the change-over down to the last man and last bullet.

The Department of Justice, from SCOTUS down to the last beat cop are corrupted beyond repair. Efforts towards reform are slower than the rate of decay.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Good people elected to change the law.

Like Obama, Mr. Hope and Change, himself?

The thing is, I think he was sincere as a candidate. And then he got into office and saw the limits of what he could do, and he saw heard the voices of his true masters.

Elect who you want, but don’t expect anything to change by choice representatives in office, and certainly don’t expect your candidate to be the same person you elected ever again.

This is my objection to the recent promotions of Elizabeth Warren to office: all that will accomblish is the crushing of Warren’s spirit, and more disappointment.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Obama the perfect unreadable sociopath.

RE: Obama ‘Sincere’?
The wool was pulled over your eyes.


But I’ve seen it happen before. No one’s ambitious ideals of changing the world survives candidacy.

My statement still stands: Elect who you want, but you’ll find nothing but disappointment at the end your effort.

And if you are correct, then our candidacy is rife with performers and sociopaths who can mask their true intentions. The Joffreys and Hitlers and Lacklands are still finding their way onto the throne. Elections in the US as a means of putting wise civic-minded rulers into office has proven a disastrous failure.

Cheney and Bush present the exemplar.

Anonymous Coward says:

until cops actually get punished for what they do in breaking the law in these cases, and i mean punished properly not a weeks suspension with pay, they will continue to act like this. it’s even worse when private citizens have been killed in the most minor of incidents and the jury clears them! i wonder how those members would feel if it were one of their family who had been killed for no reason!!

theBuckWheat says:

The end of a culture of power never is easy to accept

Up until the moment the average citizen carried a readily usable means to video record police, the culture of policing was one of unquestioned power and authority. Now, thanks to smart phones, that day is quickly coming to and end, and it is going to take time for those in government who liked to get their way to adjust to the new reality.

This is a giant win for personal liberty and for a free and peaceful society.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: A giant win for liberty freedom and peace...

Not yet it isn’t.

Historically, insitutions hold onto the power they attain, and fight relenquishing that power with every bit of force they can muster. Rarely, individuals have relenquished power as an act of conscience, such as Carter or Cromwell, but those are exceptions.

You’re right that we will see an era of video accountability, but we won’t enjoy it within our lifetimes without the shedding of a lot more blood.

cbpelto (profile) says:

[OT] HEADS UP! Spyware Installation

RE: Apple Installing ‘Security Update’ w/o Owner’s Permission

Used to be that when an update came around, Apple would ask permission to install it of the owner.

Last night I came into my officer and sat down at my work station to find a notice that a ‘Security Update’ had been installed on the machine. WITHOUT MY BEING ASKED IF I WANTED IT.

I reported this on a web-site and others reply that it’s happened to them as well.

I just go off the phone with Apple Tech Support and they gave me a long song and dance about it being a ‘simple’ update relating to synchronizing the clocks.

I was born at night….but it wasn’t LAST NIGHT!

This ‘security update’ installation correlates with Congress’ recent Bill allowing the NSA to spy on every computer in America.

Pardon my professionally inculcated ‘paranoia’, but I used to go from state to state with a team of Army officers helping states prepare for national emergencies, e.g., Katrinas and Gulf Wars. And my little internal alert system started showing red flags and star clusters while talking with a senior supervisor at Apple.

If any of you see such installations on your machines (1) have a care and (2) report it here.

Merry Christmas….ho….ho……..hoooooo

Michael Ordonez says:

videoing police

I keep reading this no matter what the political leanings of the website. Eric Garner was not “choked” to death by the police. The struggle from his arrest triggered his underlying health problems and he died of a heart attack.I agree with the thrust of the article about the overreach of police powers. Please resist the temptation to twist the facts to further the narrative.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: This totally reminds me of something...

Sam: I only know you got the wrong man.
Jack: Information Transit got to wrong man. I got the right man. The ‘wrong man’ was delivered to me as the ‘right man.’ I accepted him on good faith as the ‘right man.’ Was I wrong?
Sam: You killed Buttle?
Jack: Sam, there are very rigid parameters laid down to prevent such things happening. It wasn’t my fault that Buttle’s heart condition didn’t appear on Tuttle’s file… We’re going to have to bring Mr. Tuttle in, aren’t we? And interrogate him at the same voltage as Mr. Buttle – and juggle the books in electrical banking.

Anon. says:

There are really two ways this can go, historically speaking.

(1) Judges, or prosecutors, finally start empanelling grand juries and arresting, convicting, and locking up the criminal cops for their many crimes.

(2) People take matters into their own hands and form civil self-defense forces to fight off the criminal cops. At which point, civil war.

I’d prefer #1, but our current crop of corrupt judges seem to be voting for #2. Can’t imagine why.

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