Update: Read my article on this subject in the Miami New Times.
Momoko Sudo, the Japanese artist who watched helplessly as a Coral Gables police officer deleted the photo she took of him as well as the other photos she had taken that day, was able to retrieve the photo using recovery software.
Here is Officer Friendly in all his glory.
The officer, whose last name is Rodriguez, not only deleted every image in her camera, he also removed the memory card and slammed it on the ground, according to Sudo, who has been keeping tabs of the incident on her own Website. He then ordered her to leave the area.
After lodging a complaint with the Coral Gables Police Department, Sudo learned that Officer Rodriguez will receive only a written reprimand which will remain in his file for a year.
This “slap on the wrist” prompted Coral Gables resident Douglas Clark to fire off a complaint to Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick, Police Chief Michael Hammerschmidt as well as city commissioners William Kerdyk Jr., Rafael Cabrera Jr., Maria Anderson and Wayne “Chip” Withers.
Clark, who had been following the story on Sudo’s Website, is a photographer who has a very interesting series of photos titled “Street Life”. He stated the following in an email:
I am an amateur photographer and I quite often take photos in and around the Coral Gables area.
I am fully aware of my rights as a photographer, and that include the right to refuse to turn over media or
cameras without a court order. To have the digital, intellectual property of this complainant destroyed,
and possibly the physical asset damaged by the actions of a representative of our police department
is unlawful, and completely outside the bounds of appropriate behavior.
The punishment meted out to the officer is inadequate. To have a complaint lodged in a personnel file
for 1 year is a minor slap on the wrist, at best. Mandatory re-training in the rights of civilians, including
laws regarding unlawful search and seizure, and personal interactions with the public should be required
of this officer.
Thank you for your attention regarding this matter.
The mayor was unaware of the incident because he replied to the Clark, Hammerschmidt as well as some of his staffers with the following message:
Can someone brief me on this matter? Thank you. Don
This morning, I contacted the Coral Gables public information officer who said he had not heard of the incident. However, he took the information down and assured me he would get back to me as soon as possible. He has not yet called.
Stay tuned because this is going to get interesting.