September 9th, 2010

Notre Dame student charged with felony after videotaping cops 0

By Carlos Miller


A student from the University of Notre Dame was charged with a felony after videotaping police with his iPhone.

The incident occurred August 29 when Indiana State Excise Police had entered a party where they were checking identification to determine who was drinking underage, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Benjamin Ashenburg, a 2o-year-old student, pulled out his iPhone and began recording.

Police ordered him to stop recording.

Benjamin Ashenburg

He allegedly responded by saying, “No, fuck you.”

The officer then grabbed the phone from him, prompting Ashenburg to grab it back and swing at the officer.

The poor, victimized officer, of course, had no choice but to fight back.

Another officer then joined the melee by firing his Taser gun twice at the uncontrollable Ashenburg.

But still, Ashenburg continued to resist, according to police.

One officer even had to be transported to the hospital. Ashenburg, who suffered cuts to his face (judging from his mugshot), was transported to jail.

He was charged with a felony charge of battery to a police officer and the misdemeanor charges of underage drinking and resisting arrest.

Police offered the following excuses as to why they had to beat and tase him for videotaping police.

Excise police told Ashenburg to stop recording because he could have compromised the identity of undercover excise officers at the scene, said Lt. Tim Cleveland of the excise police.

Police were also concerned about Ashenburg recording students’ identification cards, possibly exposing them to identity theft, Cleveland said.

“If a picture of their driver’s license was taken, that could compromise their identity,” Cleveland said.

An attorney for the Hoosier State Press Association didn’t offer much support either.

Stephen Key, general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association, said he has seen several recent court cases regarding photographing or videotaping police.
In some, he said, police clearly “overstepped” their authority and prohibited people, specifically the media, from recording or taking pictures of their actions, sometimes because “they know their actions might not look good on film.”

He said that’s not necessarily true in the Ashenburg case.

He said the Clover Village incident was different than public crime scenes, since the arrest took place in a private apartment where police had established control.

And, he said, “the law recognizes the necessity to protect undercover officers,” Key said. “So there is a valid argument to be made as far as their action.”

So Key is essentially saying that police can enter someone’s home without a warrant and establish control and to hell with all the Amendments.

And I would really like to see the Indiana law that makes it illegal to videotape an undercover cop when he is acting in his official duty as a public officer.

I’m betting it doesn’t exist.


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