Police Memo Says Officers Raiding A Journalist's Home Were Instructed To Turn Off Their Body Cameras

from the police-cops-are-truly-an-inspiration-to-us-all dept

No one involved in the search of journalist Bryan Carmody’s house last May is innocent. Every new piece of information shows the San Francisco police officers — as well as any supervisors signing off on their paperwork — knew raiding a journalist’s home to find the source of a leaked autopsy report was going to treat the First Amendment and the state’s journalist shield law as a doormat.

The leak originated in the police department, which is where the SFPD should have begun and ended its investigation. Instead, officers misled a judge to get search warrants approved to search Carmody’s home and the contents of seized electronics. A few months later, all five warrants were being tossed by the five judges the cops lied to, who pointed out the SFPD had purposely withheld information that would have identified the warrants’ target as a journalist.

This led to a settlement being paid to Carmody nearly a year after the raid of his home. The city agreed taxpayers should give Bryan Carmody $369,000 for the violation of his rights and lawful protections by the city’s protectors and servants.

Three months later, more damaging news has surfaced, thanks to a public records request filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. It looks as though a cover-up was in place from the initiation of the bullshit investigation. It wasn’t enough to lie to judges. Officers were instructed to create no impartial record of the raid of Carmody’s home.

A San Francisco Police Department memo obtained by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reveals that police were instructed not to use body-worn cameras during last year’s high-profile raid of journalist Bryan Carmody’s home.

In the two-paragraph memo, which the Reporters Committee received through a public records request, Lieutenant Pilar Torres states that he told law enforcement officers conducting the raid “not to utilize our Department issued BWC’s for this operation” because the video footage could compromise the “confidential investigation.”

Whatever. Pretty much every investigation is a “confidential” investigation while it’s still underway. This wording means nothing. And video footage can be redacted if confidential sources might be revealed during idle pre-/post-raid chitchat. Keeping the cameras off allowed officers to carry out the search in a way that best benefited them, eliminating any chance of them being caught doing something they shouldn’t. (I mean beyond lying to judges, ignoring the state’s journalist shield law, walking all over the First Amendment…)

The SFPD refused to comment on this memo, again citing an ongoing investigation — this one targeting the SFPD officers involved in the unlawful raid of Carmody’s home. I imagine this investigation will continue for as long as it has to, ensuring SFPD reps don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions from journalists about their illegal abuse of other journalists.

And when everything has finally wrapped up and the lying officers safely returned to the streets, the report itself will vanish into the file cabinet in the basement until it is summoned by a public records lawsuit. That’s the way this will go, because every step of the way, the SFPD has refused to be honest about its decision to target a journalist — instead of its own officers — in order to hunt down a leak it knew was in-house.

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Comments on “Police Memo Says Officers Raiding A Journalist's Home Were Instructed To Turn Off Their Body Cameras”

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61 Comments
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ECA (profile) says:

I wonder WHY we placed cameras on police.

HOw many reasons do we want??
"The city agreed taxpayers should give Bryan Carmody $369,000"
For every police shooting,
Car stop,
Any interaction with the public, we want Justification, we want to KNOW you did the right thing, and the proper way.

The people are TIRED of paying off for your LEGAL EXPENSES.
These people have Contracts, that EVERY UNION would love to have. And they dont even need to Bury the body AFTER.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
MindParadox (profile) says:

And thusly, this is why I say it should be made a felony for a police officer to turn their camera off.

And, if the reason for any use of force isn’t caught on camera, that reason didn’t happen. (remember the cops yelling "stop resisting!!" to the unconscious body of the guy they were kicking in the head while they had their hands over their cameras? Yeah, should be improper use of force, automatic felony, and felony assault.)

Nathan F (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

But then you would have the Unions screaming their heads off about "being too intrusive to their privacy" or "causing the officer to double think themselves during an incident and having it go bad".

Personally, I think the officers should have no control over the camera. If they call in to Disptach saying they are doing xyz, dispatch turns the camera on when they respond and log it in and the camera stays on till the officer calls back in and reports the incident over. This way only official logged actions are on record, if something happens and there is no log of them calling in or camera footage then the officer was possibly acting out. Camera turns on automatically if their weapon is drawn or they go full lights and sirens on their cruiser.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
jimb (profile) says:

Re: Re: turning the cameras off...

The cameras should come with an on/off switch. But that switch should do nothing, and the camera should record continuously, in either position. "The way you behave when you think nobody is watching…" is the kind of cops we -really- have. It should also upload the video recording, real time, to secure servers controlled by the civilian police review board. Cops don’t like these requirement? Find a new career.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

The cameras should be treated just like any other part of the uniform: They’re put on and turned on at the start of their shift, and they are only turned off once the shift is over.

To ‘encourage’ police not to have ‘technical issues’ if at any time a camera fails they are considered to be off the clock, with any claims they make about what they did given no more weight than baseless claims made by a member of the public and any legal actions aimed at them for actions during that period treating them as though they were not a cop, up to and including charges for impersonating an officer if they try to exercise the power of a cop while the camera is off.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

Are you aware that when police officers are off duty they’re still police officers, and have an duty to enforce law and order, protect and serve, apprehend criminals?

Do you think when a cop is off duty at a gas station and witnesses a hold-up, that he wouldn’t be fired for running away?

It’s like the military: you don’t get to grow a beard just because you’re on leave. A police officer is a police officer when he’s employed by the police department.

What you’re advocating is, when the police officer punches out for the day, and he sees an assault on his drive home from work, he just says "Welp, not on duty … it’s That One Guy’s grandmother’s being punched by a savage’s problem, not mine."

I wish we could all live in the imaginary utopia land of make believe that you and Cushing and Masnick and Stone live in.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Duty to respond

Current responders such as law enforcement, firefighters, medical technicians, etc. do have a duty to respond but it isn’t enforced within our precincts. If a grandmother is a black woman in a black district and is assaulted and injured, it is typical for the police to take its time, so that anyone dying is good and dead rather than an emergency case to be taken to the ER.

But then US law enforcement behaves like a stratified caste, similar to Weimar-era Freikorps. They patrol for offenses against the state, less so petty matters between the peons and proles.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 EMTs

It may not be all EMTs per se. I remember the CPR First Responder course I took was often issued to medical officers assigned to industrial parks to manage on-site injuries and illness, and they had a duty to respond.

And we have a number of emergency responders who have a duty to respond.

But given how Floyd was surrounded by officers who did not respond to his lack of pulse and his inability to breathe, it may not be taken seriously anymore.

So I can’t speak for your specific position or your specific state, but there are med techs who have it in their job description.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Duty to respond

"If a grandmother is a black woman in a black district and is assaulted and injured, it is typical for the police to take its time, … "

No, Uriel. If you actually believe that, you’re a drooling fucking moron.

But I don’t think you actually think that; I think you’re just lying.

Most police officers join the force to catch criminals. If they can catch a savage who beats up an old lady, that makes their day. (I know since most police officers are traditionally masculine, and those aren’t the kind of men you consort with, you don’t know any police officers personally, so this is hard for you to grok.)

Now, if the police officer is White and the old-lady-assaulter is Black, you and the other anti-law and order Cushing sycophants believe he should not be confronted, or questioned, or apprehended, or even have to suffer the terribly traumatic microaggression of a police officer even consider suspecting him. But we don’t live in your land of make believe.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Police response times.

No, Uriel. If you actually believe that, you’re a drooling fucking moron.

Yep. That’s exactly the way to get me to take you seriously.

Urban minority or impoverished districts often have a 45+ minute waiting time on a 911 call, whereas commercial/residential districts have about a 10-15 minute wait, according to the studies I’ve read.

I don’t know where you get your notion that most police officers join the force to catch criminals. That may be true that most pre-schooling recruits imagine that, but those aspirations are shattered in first-semester Criminology (which I took, once considering a career in law enforcement), which is where all the TV and movie interpretations of police work are shattered like a million Hollywood dreams.

It sounds like you have aspirations and presumptions you don’t want shattered, Anonymous Coward Did you believe CSI too?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Police response times.

Well, if you read past the first sentence, you’d see I don’t accuse you of being a drooling moron.

I accused you of lying. Because despite your bizarre delusional Pol Pot ramblings and Che Guevara "getting back at daddy" fantasies, you seem to be fairly intelligent.

Thus, I know you know your fever dream of police not responding to assaulted old Black ladies is just more anti-White propaganda talking points.

So no, you’re not stupid; you’re just a liar.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Police response times.

His scenario was simply a theoretical example and not meant to be taken as fact. The studies that actually identify this disparity would actually show that his points make perfect sense and your ranting is the incorrect view.

If you actually care, ask for a citation instead of calling him a liar.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What you’re advocating is, when the police officer punches out for the day, and he sees an assault on his drive home from work, he just says "Welp, not on duty … it’s That One Guy’s grandmother’s being punched by a savage’s problem, not mine."

No, they’re not. They’re advocating for the idea that when a cop is on the job, the bodycam assigned to that cop should be on at all times. Your strawman needs a better stick; it’s barely able to stand up on its own.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Nope, Stone, you dunce: he said, and I quote, "Camera is off = you’re not a cop".

Can you not read? I know in 2020 to you newspeakers that "literally" doesn’t mean "literally". But pretend you’re a normal man for a second and understand this: he literally said "Camera is off = you’re not a cop".

Either that or you don’t know what a strawman is. I’d not be surprised either way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

I believe what the Anon is saying is that the proposal is not practicable because for it to work, a police officer would need to have the camera on pretty much all the time, from the moment the front door is opened to the moment it is closed, on duty or off. It sounds pretty unreasonable to subject someone to that, even a police officer, and I don’t see it as an acceptable solution to the problem either.

That’s not a strawman – it’s called an opposing view, although it seems here on TD the two are often synonymous.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

You must be reading a different comment than I am, because none of that is in their comment.

As for your comment though sure it would be burdensome, but that’s the point. Police have shown that they cannot be trusted, and the point of cameras is to create some verifiable records of their actions while on the clock so that people can check if needed to see that they are operating within the rules/laws and their actions match their words.

If they’d been willing to behave, provide some real oversight over their own and hold their own accountable then such a system might not have been needed, but as none of that is the case then cameras were introduced in an attempt to fix that, and giving police the ability to bypass that defeats the entire purpose of having the cameras in the first place.

That’s not a strawman – it’s called an opposing view, although it seems here on TD the two are often synonymous.

Only when the ‘opposing view’ is dishonestly presented, as was the case with theirs, trying to stuff words into my mouth that I didn’t say in an attempt to make my argument look worse without actually addressing it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

You must be reading a different comment than I am, because none of that is in their comment.

Huh?? It doesn’t need to be because it’s obviously implied in his response to your own comment and subject line "Camera is off = You’re not a cop" – that in order to be a cop, the camera must be on.

Only when the ‘opposing view’ is dishonestly presented, as was the case with theirs, trying to stuff words into my mouth that I didn’t say in an attempt to make my argument look worse without actually addressing it.

Except you’re doing exactly that in response to the Anon’s rebuttle to your initial post – not addressing the core of what they said and instead claiming strawman, which is pretty dishonest and lazy in my opinion.

They should clearly be required to have it on at all times while on duty (with the exception of in the bathroom, etc.), no argument there as that should be completely obvious to anyone paying attention, but they are also required by law to act as law-enforcers when they are off duty, which means that if you had your way, they would be required to wear BWCs at all other times when outside their homes. Either that or the the laws change, in which case your Grandmother’s outlook isn’t so good. I don’t see either of those things as being realistic or having any real chance of happening in the future. See the connection now?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

It doesn’t need to be because it’s obviously implied in his response to your own comment and subject line "Camera is off = You’re not a cop" – that in order to be a cop, the camera must be on.

To have the authority, and more to the point the legal protections, yes, a camera would need to be on, however they could still arrest someone as I believe technically any citizen can do, they just wouldn’t get the benefit of QI and their actions filtered through that lens, such that if they assault someone in the process it wouldn’t get an automatic pass.

but they are also required by law to act as law-enforcers when they are off duty, which means that if you had your way…

Gonna need a huge [Citation Needed] for that one, as police have argued and had it confirmed in court(twice I believe) that even on duty they don’t have any obligation to risk themselves to protect someone from danger, so the idea that they are required to enforce the law even off duty is rather hard to believe.

Doing a little digging and in fact it looks like the current rules leave granny screwed either way in the hypothetical, as no less than the US Supreme Court apparently ruled in 2005 that on-duty police aren’t obligated to protect someone, even when doing so involves enforcing a legal ruling(a restraining order in that case), further undercutting the ‘police are required to enforce the law even off-duty’ idea.

From an NYT article at the time:

But the majority on Monday saw little difference between the earlier case and this one, Castle Rock v. Gonzales, No. 04-278. Ms. Gonzales did not have a "property interest" in enforcing the restraining order, Justice Scalia said, adding that "such a right would not, of course, resemble any traditional conception of property."

Although the protective order did mandate an arrest, or an arrest warrant, in so many words, Justice Scalia said, "a well-established tradition of police discretion has long coexisted with apparently mandatory arrest statutes."

(Will post a link to the article in a separate comment to avoid this one getting caught by the spam filter.)

IAmNotYourLawyer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

There’s no duty for police to rescue or assist a member of the general public.

[T]he duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large, and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists"
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_v._District_of_Columbia]

In spite of the fact that our tax dollars support police functions, it is settled that the rules concerning the duty — or lack thereof — to come to the aid of another are applicable to law enforcement personnel in carrying out routine traffic investigations. Thus, the state highway patrol has the right, but not the duty, to investigate accidents or to come to the aid of stranded motorists…. Recovery has been denied, however, for injuries caused by the failure of police personnel to respond to requests for assistance, the failure to investigate properly, or the failure to investigate at all, where the police had not induced reliance on a promise, express or implied, that they would provide protection. Williams v. State of California (1983)

[T]he critical question the Court analyzes is whether [school and police] had a constitutional duty to protect Plaintiffs from the actions of [school shooter]. As previously stated, for such a duty to exist on the part of [school and police], Plaintiffs would have to be considered to be in custody. L.S. v. Peterson, lawsuit from Parkland school shooting

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

Ah, the good old "If you want cops to wear body cameras it must mean you want to watch policemen urinating" argument. I remember when John Smith used to argue that while using his "Whatever" pseudonym.

Of course he’s also consistently argued that shortening copyright terms would incentivize murdering artists…

You’d think that if there were any good counterarguments for lengthening copyright or cops turning off their cameras, they wouldn’t be fronted by flimsy strawmen so frequently.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

Ah, the good old "If you want cops to wear body cameras it must mean you want to watch policemen urinating" argument.

Umm, I don’t see anyone making that argument anywhere on this thread…

You’d think that if there were any good counterarguments for lengthening copyright or cops turning off their cameras, they wouldn’t be fronted by flimsy strawmen so frequently.

"You’re using a strawman, and I don’t like it, so here, take my strawman! Nyaaahh!"

Again, I don’t see anyone making an argument against cops not turning off their BWCs while on duty. The issue that the Anon pointed out is a considerable one, and instead of addressing it and coming up with a potential solution you’re pointing the finger and name-calling. You should learn how to avoid using a strawman yourself, or maybe you don’t know what a strawman actually is, in which case you should learn that before claiming someone else is using one.

Jeff Green (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

Why unreasonable? Police departments are all in favour of putting cameras everywhere they aren’t, to quote far too many policemen far too often. If they are behaving themselves they have nothing to fear. The only people with access to the cameras would be the police and anyone who can obtain a court order, based on appropriate evidence of misbehaviour.
The police assure us they would never abuse their access to private data, so that cannot be their problem, so if the police are still objecting it must mean they don’t respect the courts.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

Oh, another Masnick’s Blue Checkmark not knowing what ‘strawman’ means.

ThatOneGuy, you cretin: you literally said "Camera is off = You’re not a cop".

If a police officer is off duty, in civilian clothes, he won’t have a bodycamera on him. Therefore, what you’re advocating is that all off-duty police officers are not police officers. It also means no undercover operations.

I understand that since you’re an anti-White, un-American leftist you don’t think through to the second- and third-order effects of the wacky ideas you advocate for, but there are still normal humans in the world who do .

Cowardius Anonimae says:

Re: Re: Re: 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

That is factually incorrect.

Police have ZERO OBLIGATION to protect ANYONE EVER.

https://mises.org/power-market/police-have-no-duty-protect-you-federal-court-affirms-yet-again

https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/justices-rule-police-do-not-have-a-constitutional-duty-to-protect.html

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

I say again: any good police department is going to fire any police officer who retreats from enforcing law and order, on or off duty.

I’m waiting for the first courageous police chief to summarily dismiss any cowardly cops who kneeled before terrorist Burn-Loot-Murder BLM mobs. They’re poltroons with no spine and no business being in uniform, disgrace to the badge.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

any good police department is going to fire any police officer who retreats from enforcing law and order, on or off duty

So when will the NYPD, which is supposedly the best police department in the country, going to fire the officers who drove around Harlem at 3am with their sirens blaring? Because that isn’t enforcing law and order. That looks more like the cops trying to deprive a large group of people of sleep, possibly as a punishment for anti-police protests. (FYI: Sleep deprivation and collective punishments are both frowned upon by the Geneva Convention.)

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 police officers who retreat from enforcing law and order

What law enforcement did during the Ferguson unrest wasn’t law and order it was terrorism. And yet no one was fired.

The badge is already disgraced nationwide. US police assert power. They don’t enforce law, and they can’t even quell their own unrest, happily tearing apart homes and arresting civilians for traces of cannabis found with faulty field tests and trick-pony dogs.

If the behavior captured on video across the last decade is what we can expect from law enforcement, it’s time to disband them with prejudice and try something else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: 'Camera is off = You're not a cop'

Do you think when a cop is off duty at a gas station and witnesses a hold-up, that he wouldn’t be fired for running away?

Shit, they can’t even be fired for running away or doing nothing when on duty.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/15/us/parkland-shooting-officer-reinstated/index.html

I wish we could all live in the utopia land of make believe that you think you live in.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Does anyone remember the old mobster joke...

The police want to question Buster The Wrench regarding a corpse discovered in a back alley whose condition is on-brand for enforcement murders which Buster might have also committed. Blood and wrench prints everywhere.

But Buster’s lawyer has seven witnesses ready to testify, each of them saying he was with with Buster at the time of the murder twenty miles away taking dance lessons.

Yeah, Body Cam failures and shut-offs have become a dance-lessons joke.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'Since we clearly can't trust you to be honest...'

Oh look, another police department in dire need of defunding and removal…

‘We turned them off due to the nature of the raid’ is about as blatant and obvious a lie as they come, if they thought that footage of the illegal raid would benefit them they would have been told to keep the cameras running no matter what they captured. The only reason they were told to turn them off is to avoid creating a record of what they did and make it so their word about what happened was the only narrative available.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course they did

"the San Francisco police officers ………. was going to treat the First Amendment and the state’s journalist shield law as a doormat."

You say it as if it comes as a surprise. Of course they did it. Why? Because they knew there would be not a jot of liability attached to them.

Get sued? Meh, not our money.

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