Update: Charges dropped against South Florida model arrested for filming cops.
Update II: After hurdles and barricades, police say they will now return camera to model.
A South Florida woman was thrown in jail overnight and charged with an “eavesdropping” felony after she videotaped police officers with their knowledge in a movie theater parking lot Saturday night.
Although a judge dropped the felony charge against her the following morning, leaving her with a misdemeanor resisting arrest without violence charge, Boynton Beach Police have yet to return her camera, insisting that they still need it for “evidence.”
Adding insult to injury, she believes one of the arresting officers sent her an email bordering on sexual harassment, if not surpassing it, insinuating that she had lesbian sex with other inmates during her incarceration.
Tasha Ford, a professional model, said it all started when a Boynton Beach police officer called her at home Saturday night informing her that her 16-year-old son was in handcuffs.
Police were accusing him of trying to walk into a movie theater with a friend on a single ticket. Apparently, a security guard saw her son pass the ticket to a friend after entering, which doesn’t make sense because don’t they rip the tickets anymore?
Either way, when they informed Ford that her son was in handcuffs, she reacted the way a mother would
“I told them, ‘I hope you have a good cause for having my son in handcuffs’,” she said in a phone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Thursday night, adding that her son has never been in trouble before.
She said her son is actively involved in community organizations and was recently rewarded with a pair of sneakers from the Delray Police Department.
After pulling into the parking lot, she started filming as soon as she stepped out of her car.
“I saw my son surrounded by five officers and I started filming them, then I filmed the officer walking up to me,” she said.
Rather than stop to talk to the officer, she walked up to her son and asked him what happened. He told her that he had been tackled from behind by an officer and handcuffed after having been thrown out of the theater by a security guard.
“I kept asking the officers, ‘Was he aggressive? Did he pose a threat? I cannot perceive why you would want to put a child in handcuffs’,” she said.
But the officers seemed mainly concerned about the camera.
“They said ‘you can’t record people without letting them know’,” she said.
“So I said, ‘Ok, Tasha Ford is recording you’ and I continued filming them.
“I was filming them for my own protection,” said the mother of two who recently moved to South Florida from Washington DC. “I’ve seen the way cops interact with civilians down here.”
She said one of the officers, Robert Kellman, pictured right, was extremely antagonistic towards her and told her son, “since your mother is such a fucking asshole, I’m going to arrest you for trespassing’.”
And then a supervisor arrived and when he noticed that she had a Maryland driver license, he allegedly told her, “you fucking northerners think you can come down here and mess with cops. You are about to get a lesson 101 on how to deal with Florida cops.”
The supervisor ordered her arrested under Florida’s electronic surveillance law, which is mostly applied to recording phone conversations without the other party’s consent.
In other words, it doesn’t apply to people who do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Her son was cited for trespassing but released to his grandmother, Ford’s mother, who was called after she was handcuffed.
“They told her on the phone, ‘you better not come down here confrontational’,” she said.
After spending the night in the county jail, she faced a judge who dropped the felony charge on the basis that there was no probable cause, but set another court date for the resisting arrest without violence charge, which was handed to her because she had asked the cops too many questions. Yes, too many questions.
Upon releasing her on her own recognizance, the judge asked her if she had learned a lesson.
“I didn’t show up with a gun, I didn’t show up with a bat, I showed up with a camera and I’m supposed to learn a lesson?” she asked rhetorically Thursday night.
On Monday, she received an email from a Collin Morgan, whom she suspects may be one of the arresting officers who had the name “Morgan” on his name plate. It was sent from a Gmail account. The email contained a Sun-Sentinel link that lead to her mugshot, which is no longer there because it gets updated daily.
She forwarded the email to me and this is what it says:
“Man you’re smoking hot you even take a great police mug photo!
Hope every works out for the best! You’re too hot to be locked up,
hope you get released before the rugh munchers get you.”
I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar. And join my Facebook blog network and/or Twitter and FriendFeed to keep updated on the latest articles.