This is how it works in countries where photography is not protected under the First Amendment.
Two uniformed cops in an unmarked car pull over a taxi van and confront a passenger inside, dragging him outside where one of the officers pulls out a gun and fires twice.
Meanwhile, a 17-year-old student is recording the incident on his cell phone camera.
The officers spot the boy and demand he hand over the camera. The kid refuses. The cops grab him by the neck and hit him with the butt of a gun as the other officer puts the original suspect in the back seat of the cop car.
The second officer then joins the first officer in beating the kid with the camera.
“Stop beating me, leave me alone. Stop choking me, I can’t breathe,” the boy, Dillion Fraser, cries.
The officers shove him into the front seat of the cop car as he struggles against them. The kid is eventually released to his father who is a retired cop.
The incident occurred last week in Trinidad, according to a local newspaper (which doesn’t specify whether the initial suspect was struck by a bullet when the cop fired).
But we’ve seen it happen in this country plenty of times.
And while Trinidad might not have a First Amendment, they do have laws that protect photographers. Supposedly. Just as we do here. Supposedly.
Yesterday, attorney Gregory Delzin criticised the police for how they manhandled Fraser.
He said the officers acted in “an illegal manner.”
“The police have no authority to seize a person’s cellphone because they are video taping their actions.
Police only have criminal jurisdiction and the power to seize evidence of a crime and video taping a policeman in any action whether legal or illegal is not a crime.
Seizure of those items under those circumstances could amount to theft,” Delzin said.
Delzin also commended Fraser. “I think a young man like Dillon Fraser needs to be commended and the community needs to support young people like him, who have the courage to be video taping illegal conduct of any lawman, and it is the duty of the Police Service to ensure that persons who wish to be witnesses are encouraged and not intimidated by officers of the service.”