Seattle police stood by and did nothing when a videographer was assaulted for daring to record a man on the street.
“Why don’t you protect my rights, tell them to back off?” the videographer, who goes by SamWiseGingy on Youtube, asked after a toothless man who described himself as a drug dealer began threatening the videographer as he was trying to record a protest.
“Sometimes it pays off to be respectful when a citizen asks you not film them,” the cop, sitting in his car, responds.
But SamWiseGingy wasn’t even training his camera on the guys until they confronted him.
At 7:10 in the video, a second man who apparently was with the toothless man strikes the videographer’s camera as they both stood next to the cop car.
“That’s assault,” the videographer says.
“Striking the camera is not assault,” the cop responds.
And maybe he is right. Maybe he is not. The Washington statutes on assault are not very clear, especially the definition of fourth degree assault, which reads as follows:
Fourth degree assault simply consists of any assault that would not be serious enough to fit into 1st through 3rd degree assault. This offense is a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by more than 90 days in jail.
However, under the common law definition, striking the camera could very well be assault.
Generally, the essential elements of assault consist of an act intended to cause an apprehension of harmful or offensive contact that causes apprehension of such contact in the victim.
The act required for an assault must be overt. Although words alone are insufficient, they might create an assault when coupled with some action that indicates the ability to carry out the threat. A mere threat to harm is not an assault; however, a threat combined with a raised fist might be sufficient if it causes a reasonable apprehension of harm in the victim.
Last year, a Seattle cop was charged with fourth degree assault after he was caught on video repeatedly kicking a teenage suspect, but we all know the law is applied differently to officers.
Nevertheless, it seems irresponsible for the cops to stand by and do nothing when the second man strikes the man’s camera.
The least they could have done is ordered the man to keep his hands to himself.
But if you think they are legally required to protect citizens from harm, think again.
So much for the myth that police are there “to protect and serve.”
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CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write “carlos3” in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.
Petition the Obama Administration
I’ve launched a petition insisting President Obama protect the rights of citizens to record police in public without fear of getting arrested. We need to get 25,000 signatures in less than a month for them to review it.
It takes only five minutes to register and sign, so it’s worth the effort even if it goes nowhere.
Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I’m documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested.