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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Miami Police Assault Photojournalist for Shooting Video

 

Stretch Ledford, the Miami photojournalist who was with me during my first Metrorail run-in last year, was assaulted by a Miami police officer for shooting video this morning.

Ledford was videotaping a double-shooting investigation in Overtown, one of Miami’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods, when a female officer ordered him to walk away – despite the fact that he was standing outside the yellow crime tape they had up.

Officer J. Mayorga then reached for his camera and tried to pry it from his hands.

Ledford, who posted about the incident on his blog, yelled out “assault” so the other officers could hear.

Mayorga then backed off, but continued to order him away, accusing him of “interfering with the investigation.”

The altercation drew the attention of other officers, including a sergeant, who also tried to reach for Ledford’s camera, muttering something about her being undercover – although she was in full uniform.

The officers then expanded the perimeter with the crime tape, thus keeping Ledford well away from the actual crime scene.

Ledford then approached the sergeant to file a report, but she told him they were too busy tending to the double-shooting.

But apparently not busy enough to assault Ledford in the first place.

Ledford, who has been a professional photojournalist for decades, is now pursuing a masters degree at the University of Miami in multimedia journalism.

Documenting life in Overtown is part of an ongoing project he has been working on for his degree, which is why he moved there two months ago.

He is an excellent story-teller through his videos. Check them out here.

“This is the first time I ever felt threatened by anybody in Overtown,” said Ledford, who is white, of this predominantly black neighborhood.

The Miami Police Department has been under heavy criticism lately for killing seven black men in the last eight months on these same streets, including two who were unarmed.

 

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El Paso Sheriff Insults Councilman for Videotaping Detective

El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles proved to be “silly,” “stupid” and “unprofessional” when he accused a city councilman of the same for having the gall to videotape one of his detectives on a public street.

Sheriff Richard Wiles denounced Socorro City Councilman Jesus Gandara Jr. on a KFOX 14 news segment Tuesday after an incident in which the councilman accused a detective of assaulting him.

The detective was investigating Gandara for allegedly abusing his power and having public workers pave his private driveway with public funding.

Accompanied by a photographer, the detective was trying to determine if the public project extended into Gandara’s private driveway.

Gandara then stepped out of his home with his own camera.

So far, everything seems normal and legit – aside from the fact that Gandara is a possible swindler.

This is how Wiles explains it:

"He comes out and he starts videotaping us. Now how silly is that? Here's a police vehicle out there, here's a police crime tech with a video camera, and he's videotaping us, that's stupid. It doesn't make any sense, it's very unprofessional, and I don't appreciate the way he is treating my personnel," Wiles told KFOX 14.

"So he goes up and tries to videotape the witness in the back of the police car who doesn't want to be videotaped and the detective approached him and asked him to step back, and grabbed the camera and pushed it down."

However, according to a Socorro police report, the detective grabbed Gandara’s hand and squeezed it, causing pain.

Gandara has since filed a misdemeanor assault charge against the detective, which concerns Wiles because he believes Socorro police are acting only on the orders of the Socorro councilman.

And we are not naïve to assume that Socorro police would have filed the same report had this been a regular Joe Blow from Socorro.

Regardless, the detective tried to prevent Gandara from videotaping, which is a violation of his rights, no matter how bad of sleazebag he may be.

And the sheriff doesn’t help matters any by insulting the councilman for videotaping the detective.

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I Was on the Katherine Albrecht Show Monday Discussing My Lawsuit

On Monday, hours after my attorney filed our lawsuit against 50 State Security, I was asked to discuss my story on the Katherine Albrecht Show.

I was on for the full hour and my attorney, Michael Pancier, joined us for the second half of the show.

You can check out the segment here.

Also, The Miami Herald published the news in its print edition in Tuesday's newspaper, even though they did not put it in its online version.

Check out the photo below.

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Videos Contradict Claims by Police Officer in Miami Beach Melee

A Miami Beach police officer was caught on video body slamming a woman half his size because she had been kicked out of a concert.

About three feet away from him, a security guard places what appears to be an illegal chokehold on a male suspect.

Meanwhile, a growing crowd watching and recording the incidents voice their displeasure at what they are witnessing.

Eventually more cops arrive, which prompts the first cop to pull someone out of the crowd to arrest him, charging him with aggravated battery on a police officer.

However, none of the four videos available from this incident show this took place.

Read the whole story I wrote and check out the rest of the videos on Miami Beach 411 where I question the arrest and the chokehold.

 

 

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NJ girl who was detained for videotaping cops files lawsuit

A teenage girl who was detained for videotaping police officers in New Jersey last year is suing the Newark Police Department.

Khaliah Fitchette, then a 16-year-old high school student, began recording police who were investigating a case where a man had fallen on the bus.

Up to that point, it was a routine investigation.

But then one officer ordered the girl to stop recording. When she continued doing so, the officer grabbed her off the bus, deleted the video, handcuffed her, refused to call her mother and tried to charge her with obsruction of justice, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Now the ACLU and the Civil Rights and Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Seton Hall Law School are suing on her behalf.


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Georgia Cops "Disciplined" for Beating Girl Trying to Record Them

A teenage girl who was trying to videotape her cousin’s arrest was beaten by two police officers in Georgia.

And it was all caught on the police dash cam video, which can be seen here because it is not embeddable.

The incident occurred last month but it is just coming to light now after the two officers were disciplined for excessive force; if you want to call “written counseling” and “additional use of force training” discipline.

It’s pretty much a slap on the wrist.

Meanwhile, the 17-year-old girl, Ciara Flemister, who had her head bashed into the hood of the police car, is facing felony obstruction and battery charges.

Flemister was trying to record the officers, who were arresting her cousin for playing loud music, which goes to show you these officers have pretty much nothing to do in the tiny town of West Point, Georgia.

The video shows Flemister clearly holding up a camera phone as she walks towards the police car.

That was when an officer grabbed her wrist, the same one holding the camera (beginning at 1:23 in the video).

She responded by kicking the officer, which prompted both officers to grab and toss her on the hood of the car, elbowing her on the back of the head and slamming her face into the car.

West Point Police Chief J.K. Cato acknowledged the officers were out of line in beating her, but said they had every right to arrest her because she had walked into their “safety zone.”

But the video doesn’t support that claim.

It shows her walking towards the police car with the phone, stopping in front of the car, then an officer walking up to her and grabbing her wrist.

It was obvious she was not a threat. In fact, you can’t even see the officers in the frame until they step in.

I recommend opening the video to fill your screen, then watching it frame by frame by using the pause button to really break it down.

If it is true she was too close for their comfort, all they had to do is order her to step back. Cops do this on daily basis.

The girl didn't do herself any favors by kicking the officer after he had grabbed her, leaving herself open for the felony battery charge.

But the fact that she was not obstructing in the first place would seem to make it an unlawful arrest in the first place.

But we know the courts will never forgive a citizen from physically confronting an officer.

Unfortunately, police are not held to the same standards.

 

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We Filed a Lawsuit Today Over My Metrorail Assault Incident

Eight months after I was battered and assaulted by a security guard on the Miami-Dade Metrorail for videotaping inside a train station, I filed a lawsuit seeking damages.

The suit was filed today at the Miami-Dade Courthouse by my attorney Michael Pancier, who also happens to be a talented nature photographer.

He advised me not to comment on the suit because it is pretty much self-explanatory.

Besides, not only was the incident captured by HD Net on video, I’ve said all I’ve had to say on the matter in previous articles.

We are also seeking other photographers who have been harassed by 50 State security on the Metrorail because it's an ongoing issue that has yet to be resolved.

If you have been harassed, threatened or intimidated by 50 State for taking photos or video on or near the Metrorail, send me an email to carlosmiller at magiccitymedia dot com (written that way to prevent the spambots from spamming me).

 

Carlos Miller's lawsuit against 50 State Security

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Check Me Out Saturday Afternoon at the Agora Unconference

I will be one of many activists speaking in the Agora I/O Unconference, which has already kicked off and will last through Sunday.

Essentially, it’s like a conference, except you don’t have to spend thousands flying to another city. It’s all online, which is why it is billed as the unconference.

Speakers will connect with viewers through Skype.

I will be on tomorrow (Saturday) from 3 – 4 p.m. EST, so if you have any questions about anything or just want to connect, check it out.

I basically will be going over my incidents as well the incidents I’ve written about on this blog and will talk about photographers’ rights in general and will answer questions as they come up.

Also, Monday is the 4th anniversary of Photography is Not a Crime. And it just so happens I will be making a huge news announcement that day, just to give you a heads up.

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Camera Catches Cops Feuding Over Borders as Victim Lays on Ground

Cops Tussle With Cops On Camera: MyFoxPHILLY.com

 

Like warring gangs, two police juridstictions in Pennsylvania squared off against each other after one officer crossed a borough line to make an arrest.

The altercation, which took place last Friday, was all caught on video as the victim of the crime laid on the ground.

According to Fox 29, a woman flagged down an officer after she had been punched in the face by a man.

The officer happened to be from Colwyn borough. The incident took place in Darby borough.

Rather than hang around and wait for Darby cops to show up, the Colwyn cop arrested the man.

But then the Darby police chief pulled up to the scene and began yelling at the Colwyn cop who made the arrest, ordering him to get out of his borough.

The Colwyn cop got out of his car and had to be restrained.

Meanwhile, emergency service workers tended to the woman as she laid on the ground.

 

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Security Guards Still Harassing Photographers at Miami Metrorail Stations

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Miami-Dade Metrorail security guards continue to harass and threaten photographers, despite supposedly being informed that there is no law or policy forbidding commuters from taking non-commercial photos or videos.

The latest reported incident took place late last month when three photographers were taking photos at the Palmetto station in Hialeah.

It is clear that 50 State security has no intention of training its security guards to abide by the Miami-Dade code, despite numerous assurances from transit officials.

On Feb. 26, 2011, photographers Danny Delgado, Rob Benito and a third man were approached by two security guards who told them they needed a permit if they wanted to continue taking photos.

Delgado, who is a street photographer, filed a complaint with transit officials stating the following:

“We were first approached by a male guard, who besides being rude and unprofessional, was quite aggressive. As we talked with said guard the second guard (female) approached us and tried to understand the situation. We then began explaining to the female guard that we were simply trying to take some photographs and shoot some footage of 'me' not the "structure", for personal use. She tried to be polite and courteous with us while at the same time backing up what her partner was saying, about us not being able to photograph/film in the station without a "permit" or some type of permission. We asked her what law or legal code she was basing her statement on but she could not answer. “

After their conversation with the security guards, the photographers went to Delgado’s apartment and printed out a copy of the Miami-Dade Code that states non-commercial photography is legal on the Metrorail. Then they returned to the station.

He continued describing his experience in his complaint:

“We began explaining to one of the newly arrived guards what our situation was and I showed him the documents we had printed out supporting the fact that we were indeed completely free to photograph and film within the station to which the guard replied "I went to school for finance not law" as he tried to hand me back the documents in an attempt to invalidate the documents and brush us off. I insisted I had highlighted the relevant lines within the documents and that they are written in plain English. He responded by saying it was his station and he didn't care what my papers say we were not going to photograph his station.

 Again just to be clear, we wanted to photograph and film ME in the station, not the station itself of the structure.

 This second guard we were dealing with was as unprofessional and disrespectful as the previous guard. He was more passive aggressive than the previous guard but again I feel he is not qualified for his position. He also made some statements which were innapropriate and disturbing. He implied that if not stated outright that we looked like terrorists and asked me directly what my cultural background was and if I was a natural born American citizen. This guard appeared to be Anglo-American. He went on a rant about his supposed service in Afghanistan and went on the mention something about Indonesia and asked us to search google and youtube for some videos of something. His thoughts were almost incoherent and quite confusing. They had nothing to do with the situation on hand.”

As many of you know, I've had an ongoing issue with 50 State security guards over our right to take photos and video on the Metrorail where I’ve been “permanently banned,” assaulted and threatened with arrest.

The only time I haven’t been harassed is when I’ve showed up to the station with a large number of photographers.

It seems that it requires a minimum of ten photographers for them to understand our rights. Anything less will get you harassed.

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