Once again, police confiscated a camera under the pretense of “evidence” – which numerous lawyers say is unlawful without a subpoena.
This time it happened in New Hampshire to a man who was arrested on wiretapping charges for videotaping police in 2006.
Michael Gannon beat those wiretapping charges when the Nashua Police Department decided it wasn’t going to pursue them in court.
But they still haven’t returned the video footage that shows police entering his home uninvited without a search warrant – solid evidence for a lawsuit against the police department.
“They returned my cameras and surveillance equipment, but they kept my tapes,” the 55-year-old land surveyor said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime Wednesday night.
So it’s not surprising that they confiscated a video camera on July 1st after an altercation he had with two Nashua police detectives.
Gannon said he was hanging out with two friends in downtown Nashua walking his dog when a pair of detectives drove by in an unmarked car and yelled something derogatory about his son.
Gannon won’t say exactly what it was, but it hit a sore spot, especially considering it was his son police were looking for when they entered his house in 2006 without a warrant.
“It was a rude statement,” he said. “So I said, ‘corruption at it’s finest.’”
Gannon said one of the cops yelled back at him, “What did you say, what did you say?”
“I said, ‘You heard me.’”
The cops then stopped the car and stepped out, walking towards Gannon and his two friends.
That was when Gannon began recording on a handheld video camera.
He said he was recording mostly for audio, not video, so he was just holding it, not pointing it in their direction.
At one point, he asked if he was detained and they said no, so he started walking away.
“I turned around, walked about 30 feet and then they grabbed me from behind,” he said.
“They threw me to the ground, cuffed me, maced me in my mouth, punched me in the face and kicked me in the groin.”
Before he was taken down, he tossed the camera to his friend, Pamela Reynolds.
Police told the Nashua Telegraph newspaper a completely different account of what took place that day.
“Mr. Gannon was yelling and swearing and was warned repeatedly to cease that behavior,” Detective Lt. Frank Sullivan said.
The detectives “observed Mr. Gannon’s behavior and addressed Mr. Gannon’s behavior,” Sullivan said.
“They tried to reason with Mr. Gannon,” Sullivan said.
When Gannon didn’t desist, the officers placed him under arrest – “and he did resist an arrest,” Sullivan said.
Police also told the Telegraph that Reynolds tried to hide the camera in some nearby bushes, so she was charged with tampering with evidence, a felony.
But the camera was not being used in the commission of a crime, so it was not “evidence” under legal definitions.
In fact, it doesn’t appear that Gannon committed any crime other than the contempt of cop.
But he was charged with simple assault on an officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Of course, the video will most likely provide the answer to what actually took place that day.
And, of course, Nashua police are refusing to return the camera to Gannon.
History repeats itself, especially when police have something to hide.
Journalist and activist Christopher King, a former law enforcement attorney, has been trying to get Gannon’s 2006 footage as well as the camera from the recent incident from police but to no avail. He produced the video below where he interviewed Gannon and his friends.