Citizen Video Evidence Helps Two Arrested Photographers Have Their Cases Dropped

from the filming-police-is-a-right dept

Just as we've seen the DOJ come out and scold police for taking away people's rights by arresting people photographing or videotaping police, we have two separate stories (found via PetaPixel) of photographers who were arrested by police for taking photos of public protests, both of whom had their cases dropped due to videotaped evidence from others that was posted to YouTube.

The two cases were unrelated, but have a similar fact pattern (and one not particularly different than previous stories we've seen). One case, in Seattle, involved a photographer named Joshua Garland, who started photographing recent protests in downtown Seattle, and was arrested and charged with third degree assault supposedly for "grabbing a police officer's hand and twisting his arm." Garland's lawyer, Andrea Robertson, went on YouTube and was able to piece together videos of the incident, which she then showed to prosecutors, saying that the video footage made it clear "there was absolutely no way that the officer's account of events is what actually happened." Because of that, police dropped the charges.

Meanwhile, dealing with a similar issue in New York, photographer Alexander Arbuckle actually went to trial, where, once again someone else's YouTube footage helped exonerate him (and show that the police appeared to lie). In this case, he was charged with "disorderly conduct" (which we see a lot in cases where police arrest photographers for photographing or videotaping them. The police officer claimed, under oath in court, that Arbuckle was in the street and blocking traffic, leading to the arrest.

Thankfully (or, if you're the police, unfortunately), there was a lot of evidence contradicting that statement. This included Arbuckle's own photos, which were taken from the sidewalk, and (more importantly) a Ustream video from a guy named Tim Pool "showed that not only was Arbuckle on the sidewalk, so were all the other protestors." As the Village Voice notes, "the only thing blocking traffic on 13th Street that night was the police themselves." Here's the video, with the key section being from 31:50 until about 35:00.

As Petapixel points out, this certainly suggests that the police lied under oath.

Oh, and a bit of irony: Arbuckle was at that protest to try to document the cops' side of the story, saying that he felt the media had been unfair in covering the police, portraying them as aggressors, when he didn't believe that was true. Yeah.

Either way, this highlights a couple of related points:
  1. Police across the country continue to arrest photographers on completely bogus charges -- despite courts (and the Justice Department) making it clear that this is legal activity. In at least some cases, it appears that they are then willing to lie about it in court.
  2. Similarly, this demonstrates the importance of being able to photograph and film police while on duty, to provide evidence when there is wrongdoing. That the "wrongdoing" involved incorrectly arresting other photographers only serves to make this point even stronger.
It's really amazing to me how frequently we see stories like this. It's good that these two cases both got dropped, though crazy that either one existed in the first place, let alone that one of them went all the way to court.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:22am

    Sounds like the ole' Police State machine still needs a tweak or two.

    Don't worry America, you'll be a perfect Police State yet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    patrick NL, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:31am

    I was under the impression that lying under oath was a crime. Or at least a misdemeanor? A finable offense? what happened to the police officers that lied? The continue to perform their duties? That doesn't seem right..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 9:36am

    And the repercussions?

    Were there any repercussions for the police who perjured themselves in court and in legal documents in these cases? My guess? Probably not. IMO, these asshats should be doing serious jail time themselves, besides losing their jobs to "serve and protect" us...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Amber, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:38am

    The citizens of America need to start going out and filming the police en masse as a form of protest against corruption in police departments. We need to hold our police forces accountable for their actions, at least while in public. The police are corrupt in every precinct across the entire nation, and it's time to expose them. Is there an app that uploads photos and streams video to a cloud account as they are shot? Then even if there is not a convenient bystander videotaping, or if the police delete the evidence from the device, it can still be saved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Designerfx (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 9:38am

    exactly = where are the countersuits?

    Where are the countersuits against these clearly invalid claims? Where's the lawsuits for perjury, malicious prosecution?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    Until the courts start punishing the police for perjury, this sort of behaviour is going to continue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 9:40am

    Re:

    Leave with pay for six week investigation...results - nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:46am

    Re: exactly = where are the countersuits?

    what do you think it costs to fight the blue wall of silence? unfortunately, even with this evidence, i think it might cost your livelihood. im not talking financials either

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:46am

    Re: exactly = where are the countersuits?

    what do you think it costs to fight the blue wall of silence? unfortunately, even with this evidence, i think it might cost your livelihood. im not talking financials either

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:47am

    Re:

    I was under the impression that lying under oath was a crime.

    In the United States, perjury is a felony. So, yes. But don't expect any police officer, especially in New York City, to face consequences for such a thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    "Because of that, police dropped the charges. "

    But what's to deter police from making things up in the future? Shouldn't these police be punished for making up lies?

    How are we supposed to trust our system of justice when enforcement officers are permitted to lie and get away with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re:

    It's called the high court vs low court treatment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 9:51am

    And then...?

    'the video footage made it clear "there was absolutely no way that the officer's account of events is what actually happened." Because of that, police dropped the charges.'

    And then...?

    'The police officer claimed, under oath in court, that Arbuckle was in the street and blocking traffic, leading to the arrest. Thankfully... there was a lot of evidence contradicting that statement.'

    And then...?

    Whatever happened to Police Officers being held to a higher standard? Being trusted to know and enforce the laws does not make you above them. If anything it should compound their infractions by also being breaches of trust. I know it's a tough job, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my rights to make the system seem more effective.

    "And then...?" Indeed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Wayne, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:51am

    Cool story bro.

    Basically photographers are experiencing the same treatment as for what people in the south like to call "being black".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 9:52am

    As someone once suggested, police's last resort is to have a mini-speakers attached to them, permanently playing music that is copyrighted by a major label. You can see why ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 9:55am

    Re: _ _ _ ... _ _ _

    ...and then, when somebody photographs the music...!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 9:56am

    Also, some context about what's being protested in the article would be nice, just something brief.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 10:12am

    Re: exactly = where are the countersuits?

    Countersuits are one thing, why isn't the government going after criminals? (i.e. cops who perjure themselves) Perjury is a CRIME, not a civil thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 10:13am

    For years the courts have treated police officers as "trained observers" and have often given their testimony the same or even greater weight than physical evidence. In fact large parts of our criminal justice system have relied primarily on the assumption that police officers give true and accurate testimony. These cases could seriously chip away at those assumptions, particularly for a lot of "minor" street crime.

    Even if an officer gets off the hook for lying under oath, that officer's testimony would be largely worthless in court after the incident if the defendant has a competent attorney. Unfortunately, the assumption of competent council is also invalid in a lot of street crime cases.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    PatM (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 10:15am

    This is nothing new, police lie every day here in Canada too, so much so that the AG has decided to waste more tax payers money investigating it

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1170785--police-who-lie-attorney-general-orders-pro be-of-police-deception

    http://www.thestar.com/topic/policewholie

    Lazy cops think it's better to write some person up on a phoney ticket so they can sit in court and get paid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:26am

    Re:

    The citizens of America need to stop doing their shooting with cameras.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:27am

    any lawsuits for false arrest?

    why is it always stated that the police 'appeared to be lying'? either they were lying or they were telling the truth. in all the instances i have seen here or elsewhere on the net, it is clear that the police were lying. that being the case, why not actually say so? or will that lead to further false charges?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Danny (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 10:27am

    Re: exactly = where are the countersuits?

    At some point in the future when one of these officers is testifying at an unrelated case, the defense attorney will show this to the jury to demonstrate that the officer is willing to lie under oath, and therefore should not be believed in the case at hand.

    Someone else will get off, but if it happens often enough perhaps the police departments will self police a bit better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Funny, I can expect my licenced plumber to be held to a code of ethics, but as for the official law inforcement, I can't think of a time I have ever expected them to not abuse their position.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 10:49am

    The irony is priceless. It's just like Governments trying to convince ppl they represent the public needs and wishes instead of corporate interests. Oh well..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Difster (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 10:50am

    Ubiquity

    What we need is a condition of ubiquity where the police are filmed by so many people, so often that they have no choice but to accept it as the norm.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    chelleliberty (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 10:51am

    "I was under the impression that lying under oath was a crime."

    Depends who you are. Oh you're not organized crime 'law enforcement'? Yep. Crime. Definitely. Felony even. We take perjury very seriously in this country.

    Oh, my mistake, you are? Well, I'm sure you are just stating things to the best of your ability to recall, and c'mon it was on a totally insignificant charge, that couldn't really affect someone that much, just a 'violation', not even a misdemeanor... Couldn't cost a person more than, say, $250. And almost no one ever gets the fifteen days in jail. And certainly you wouldn't push for that, cause you're a good man/woman.

    We'll just mark this down as not even really a lie, more of a 'mistake'. Go home now while we lock this guy... oh... let this guy go since he didn't actually do anything.

    "They continue to perform their duties? That doesn't seem right..."

    Well, I don't think they mostly perform their duties, but I see what you're getting at. But believe me, the mobsters officers do stuff worse than that and continue to supposedly perform duties.

    Welcome to America!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 11:01am

    These two cases never made it to court.
    The cops in both situations did lie though in their arrest statements.
    Both of these photographers should sue and the cops should be disciplined.
    Once an officer is caught in a lie his word is no longer his bond, and he is of no use to the public safety of the community.
    Police officers must be held to the highest of standards.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 11:14am

    Re:

    Memory is extremely flexible, even for events long past. Your brain filters out things it doesn't think are important. It fills in gaps based on other events and can completely manufacture new things.

    There's the famous count something while a guy in a gorilla suit walks by experiment. Half or more of people miss it. I think every jury should need to watch that.

    There are studies where a group of people are asked to observe an event (sometimes a simulated crime), and then asked to give witness statements. The witnesses are gathered together to go over what happened. Adding one or two people to insert things which never happened causes others to "remember" those things and to be completely sure they did happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Cowardly Anonymous, May 18th, 2012 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re:

    Wrong. Once they get a significant violent response, they'll have all the excuse they need with most of the populous to crack down all the way. They will win escalation. Fortunately, they can't easily make the first move.

    The populace is finally starting to wake up. Keep the reins tight on the vigilantes and rebellious and we might be able to actually reverse the descent into a police state.

    However, all it takes is a few riots forcefully suppressed and everything blows up. People get scared and start acting irrationally. Some will fight, but most will roll over. That's one way this song and dance works (think Germany). The other is that someone hijacks control of the revolution (think USSR).

    Either way, violence has a much higher probability of leading to an oppressive (far worse than Today) regime than other methods do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: exactly = where are the countersuits?

    That's asking a lot. You're going to have officers able to testify and willing to lie and do more ground research for a public defender that is already overworked?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 11:37am

    Re:

    "trained observers"

    Oh, they put some observers on a train alright...


    Come to think of it... isn't Arbuckle the guy where the Judge flipped out and tried to get all his tweets when the railroad broke down??

    Judges aren't clean in this police state business either... not by a long shot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Almost Anonymous (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 11:43am

    C'mon guys, get with the program

    When YOU lie under oath, that is perjury.

    When police lie under oath, that is a "mistaken recollection of events".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    DCX2, May 18th, 2012 @ 11:43am

    Re:

    A cop found guilty of perjury should lose his pension.

    Make it clear that you're willing to go after their retirement nest egg and watch how fast they fall in line.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    W Klink (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 11:48am

    Re:

    Wasn't there a president impeached for committing perjury? I seem to remember the far right was very upset about this. It had nothing to do with what he was lying about (which wasn't actually illegal), but lying under oath seemed a very big deal at the time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    But see law enforcement has to deal with all kinds of crap all the time so you've got to understand....

    wait...

    never mind, I have no clue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    Keroberos (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 1:18pm

    And the Truely Scary Thing About This Is...

    Is anyone else wondering if police testimony in other cases is of the same quality? It's saddening to think that the majority of police who are honest and hardworking are also going to feel the backlash from this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Most cops nowadays have no pension. Cops where I live don't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    BeeAitch (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 1:44pm

    Re: And the Truely Scary Thing About This Is...

    If the "majority of police who are honest and hardworking" (a statement I disagree with) feel the backlash from this, then maybe they need to withdraw from the blue wall of silence and police their peers, as it were.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 1:48pm

    Is everyone this officer has ever testified against the entire time he has been a police office about to file an appeal?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re:

    n the United States, perjury is a felony. So, yes. But don't expect any police officer, especially in New York City, to face consequences for such a thing.

    How about a citizen's arrest right there in the court room?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re:

    A cop found guilty of perjury should be fired. No benefits, no layoff package, just 'pack your stuff, you no longer work here'.

    Every time a police officer pulls crap like this it lessens the trust people have for the police, so it amazes me that the police don't handle matters like this themselves, if for no other reason than protecting their own image.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Rapnel (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 6:53pm

    Re:

    I'm not sure we're meant to "trust" it (at least when you're in front of it). We are meant to "fear" it. The role of the intimidator requires constant vigilance and exercise.

    The more/faster we can a) isolate and identify abuse of power b) realize real repercussions for the abusers c) understand that authorities are citizens first and enforcers second (at all times) then the closer we can get to real justice at the point of entry.

    If you lie under oath you disrespect and undermine the rule of law. If you lie as an employee of the Justice Department it should be grounds for immediate dismissal at a minimum. Aggravated perjury meant to result in and achieve penalties for an otherwise innocent defendant should be treated with a sizable fine, termination and jail time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    icon
    Rapnel (profile), May 18th, 2012 @ 7:01pm

    Re: C'mon guys, get with the program

    Fuck that. If we suck it up and tuck tail and continue to allow (seemingly not so rare) abuses of police and politicians (lies, deceit, treachery, self-enrichment and malicious agendas) then ugly days await us all.

    I know it's a quip but that program must be terminated at any cost.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2012 @ 8:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The real fallout here could be huge. Any case that the officers in question have testified in are now questionable. They perjured themselves once they may do it again and have done it in the past.

    If I was a trial lawyer any testimony by these sworn police officers should be immediately challenged and used to challenge any decsions based on said testimonies. How many other cases will fall apart when this string is pulled?

    The DA should charge these officiers just out of spite for the cases they will have ruined.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2012 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: exactly = where are the countersuits?

    The record of this case should be evidence enough to impeach these cops character.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), May 19th, 2012 @ 11:33pm

    Re:

    > As someone once suggested, police's last resort
    > is to have a mini-speakers attached to them,
    > permanently playing music that is copyrighted
    > by a major label.

    But then they'd have to pay a public performance royalty to ASCAP. Not sure the budget of the average PD could handle that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I agree the DA should get involved, if only to prevent the questioning of testimony from spreading from just these officers to the entire station they're assigned to, if Internal Affairs doesn't find any wrongdoing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2012 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: Re: exactly = where are the countersuits?

    If I were a public defender, I'd put these guys in a file somewhere and pull them out in every case I handle that even touches them. It's a potentially huge time-saver, given the number of cases every defender handles monthly. They could milk this for years, and good on 'em for trying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2012 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re:

    No. Violence begets violence. Peaceful protest with a clear message and method has a much better track record, though of course all protesters run the risk of losing property, liberty, health, or life. (Which is why you don't see many mass protests until things get really bad.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    A Guy (profile), May 21st, 2012 @ 5:29am

    The most disappointing thing is that I'm really not surprised by any of this. This is, and should be treated as an outrageous abuse of power. However, it all seems commonplace now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    Druzhshchienschkyj (profile), Jun 1st, 2012 @ 8:33am

    Filming Law Enforcement.

    From what I have read, my opinion is that anyone who is filming anything should seriously consider having at least one other person film them to avoid cases such as this and for their defense should they be arrested.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This