Monthly archives: April 2011

April 29th, 2011

West Virginia Cop Overreacts To Guy's Question (Video) 0

By Carlos Miller

 

Two brothers were pulled over for a traffic infraction in Parkersburg, West Virginia. It all seems routine and the officer seems cordial until the brother in the passenger seat decides to asks him a question.

The question, which was nothing out of the ordinary, landed the guy in jail.

The excitement begins at 1:25 in the video.

 

April 28th, 2011

PINAC Turned Four Years Old Today 0

By Carlos Miller

Today marked the four-year anniversary of Photography is Not a Crime, a blog that I did not expect to last longer than a few months, if even that.

My original intention was to document the trial of my first arrest, the one where I was charged with nine misdemeanors because I refused to stop taking photos of a group of Miami police officers in February 2007.

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Those cops will forever be ingrained in my header as a reminder that not only was I allowed to take their photo, but I was allowed to post it all over the internet as well.

I’m hoping they will think twice the next time they are tempted to harass a photographer for taking their picture, but you never know.

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After all, David Socarass, the Miami Beach police officer who arrested me in 2009 for taking his photo – the same cop who failed to show up to trial twice prompting my case to be dropped – didn’t hesitate to harass me a year later when I came across him again.

But that time I captured it on video. And since then, there have been a multitude of other arrests that I’ve documented on this blog as well as a few more run-ins with myself and authority figures, including the time I was assaulted by a Metrorail security guard for walking into the station with a video camera for which I am now suing.

So if there is any lesson I learned from this blog is to never leave home without a video camera, preferably two, in case they take one away from you.

But in all honesty, I sometimes get bored of the blog. Especially when it comes to the day-to-day routine stories.

However, nothing replaces the adrenaline rush I get when I post a story that I know will go viral, such as the one last week of the Las Vegas police officer attacking a man for videotaping him.

So I really don’t see myself neglecting PINAC, even though sometimes I’m tempted to do so.

In fact, I am putting together a proposal for a possible book deal. After all, I have plenty of material.

But I’m curious. What would you guys like to see in a Photography is Not a Crime book?

April 27th, 2011

State Trooper Who Arrested Photographer Now A Photographer 0

By Carlos Miller

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It was less than four years ago that Arkansas State Trooper Thomas Weindruch arrested a photojournalist for taking his picture, claiming he feared for his life because a flash was used.

Weindruck – who was disciplined for making that arrest – has apparently gotten over his fear of cameras and is now a photo enthusiast, according to his profile page on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – the same newspaper that called him out for having a history of “unacceptable” and “unprofessional” behavior in a 2008 article.

This is how he describes himself on Capture Arkansas, the section of the newspaper site that allows photographers to submit photos and vote for their favorites:

“I am an Arkansas State Trooper who loves taking photos of all kinds of things in my spare time.”

Weindruch even went as far as to use the same image taken by the photographer he arrested in December 2007.

The Capture Arkansas page came to the attention of an alert Photography is Not a Crime reader who sent it this way.

I sent photojournalist Bill Lawson an email last night asking if he gave Weindruch permission to use his photo, but he has not responded yet (for the record, he has not given me persmission to use it either, so I’ll remove it if he wishes).

But it is not likely considering how upset he was at being arrested, especially after learning that Weindruch already had a history of complaints against him for angry outbursts against citizens, according to a 2008 article. 

Lawson filed a complaint over his arrest, alleging Weindruch physically roughed him up; would not let him sit down while he was in handcuffs even though he has health problems; yelled and screamed at him; and was rude, abusive and threatening.

Lawson said he was trying to photograph the fire, with Weindruch in the foreground, when Weindruch became belligerent toward him.

A three-person review board investigated the complaint and reported to State Police Director Col. Winford Phillips in January that it found Lawson’s complaint to be unsubstantiated, although it said Weindruch showed poor judgment in the incident.

Weindruch ended up suspended for two days without pay and removed from the street beat for a year.

Obstruction of justice charges were dropped against Lawson days after his arrest.

And now Weindruch is a photographer who enjoys taking pictures of pretty flowers and sunsets.

Let’s hope that helps ease his explosive temper.

April 26th, 2011

Hillsborough Deputies Once Again Prevent Reporters From Doing Their Job 0

By Carlos Miller

 

Ryan French, the Tampa news videographer who had a run-in with Hillsborough County deputies last week, reports another incident where deputies did not respect the rights of journalists.

Essentially, police shot a bank robbery suspect at his home, so when reporters arrived to the scene, they were ordered to stand a block away from where the crime tape had been set up.

They eventually got smart and moved in towards the crime tape, sparking a discussion with one of the deputies.

A public information officer was called and everything was sorted out.

But it’s pretty absurd that deputies believe they can keep reporters away from the crime tape. The whole purpose of the tape is to let citizens, including journalists, know where they are not allowed to enter.

There is no reason why they need to be kept further away from the tape.

 

April 22nd, 2011

Las Vegas Cop Beats Man For Videotaping Him 0

By Carlos Miller

Fuck you, Derek Colling.

You deserve to be thrown in prison because you are a violent criminal.

And you are a liar with a badge.

The videotape proves that.

Rant over.

Derek Colling is a Las Vegas police officer who attacked a citizen for videotaping him on a public street last month.

The videographer was Mitchell Crooks, a 36-year-old man who ended up with a bruises on his face and a broken nose.

Colling charged him with battery on a police officer and obstruction of justice, which could have sent him to prison.

Fortunately, the district attorney’s office dropped the charges against Crooks. But even more fortunate is the fact that they returned his camera without deleting his footage, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Now Las Vegas police have enough evidence to investigate Colling, who already has a violent history. And Crooks is suing for $500,000 in damages.

The incident took place on March 20 where Colling was arresting some burglary suspects. Crooks was standing in front of his house videotaping the investigation.

Colling pulled up to him, shone a light in his face and began questioning him.

Here is that exchange:

Colling: Can I help you, sir?

Crooks: Nope, just observing.

Colling: Do you live here?

Crooks: Nope.

Colling: Turn that off for me.

Crooks: Why do I have to turn it off? I’m perfectly within my legal rights to be able to do this.

Colling: (Walking towards Crooks) Turn off the camera for me.

Crooks: I’m perfectly within my legal rights to do this, sir.

Colling: Listen, turn off the camera for me.

Crooks: No sir, I am within my legal rights to do this.

Colling: You don’t live here.

Crooks: I do live here.

Colling then attacks Crooks in a vile abuse of authority, taking him down and kicking the camera in the process, all while ordering him to stop resisting.

In his report, Colling claimed that Crooks attempted to take him down by grabbing his shoulders. The video proves otherwise.

Colling tried to justify the arrest because Crooks stated that he did not live there, even though he actually did live there.

It is unclear why he would lie about this, but that still didn’t give Colling the right to attack him or tell him to stop recording.

The truth is, Crooks could have just ignored the question altogether because he was not doing anything other than expressing his First Amendment rights to videotape cops in public.

According to an ACLU attorney interviewed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Colling also erred in claiming that Crooks was trespassing. By law, only a property owner or resident can make a trespassing complaint, Lichtenstein said.

“Even if the officer didn’t think he lived there, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have permission to be there,” Lichtenstein said. “In the video I heard, that question was never asked.”

The Review-Journal also points out that Colling has a history of violence and Crooks has a history of recording police. Not the most compatible pairing.

Colling has been involved in two fatal shootings in his 5 1/2 years as a Las Vegas police officer. In 2006, he and four other officers shot Shawn Jacob Collins after the 43-year-old man pulled a gun at an east valley gas station.

In 2009, he confronted a mentally ill 15-year-old Tanner Chamberlain, who was holding a knife in front of his mother and waving it in the direction of officers. Colling shot him in the head.

Both shootings were ruled justified by Clark County coroner’s juries.

Crooks made headlines in 2002 when he videotaped two Inglewood, Calif., police officers beating a 16-year-old boy. One officer was fired and criminally charged but was not convicted after two trials ended with hung juries. The incident strained race relations in Southern California — the police officer was white, the teenager black.

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