February 18th, 2013

KATU News Needs to Admit They Were Wrong in Camera Seizure Story 36

By Carlos Miller

 

It is not often that police officers commenting on Police One agree with readers commenting on PINAC.

But sometimes an officer’s behavior is so out of line, that they are left with no choice.

At least the officers who take a little pride in abiding by the Constitution.

Gresham police officer Taylor Letsis doesn’t abide by the Constitution

 

While it’s refreshing to see officers defend citizen journalist Carrie Miranda over Gresham police officer Taylor Letsis in the video in which he snatched her phone out of her hand and then proceeded to view its contents, it makes it even more disappointing that a member of the media defended the unlawful actions.

 

 

I already explained how KATU’s Dan Tilkin embarrassed the profession of journalism with his police pandering piece on the incident, so I won’t get into that here.

But now I’m thinking we should demand the station run a correction on its piece considering it was completely false. Here is an email address to the station’s general manager.

Tilkin, who calls himself an investigative reporter who is “on your side,” didn’t go any further than the Gresham public information flack to decide police had the right to confiscate your phone as evidence without due process.

And Gresham Police Lt. Claudio Grandjean is an elder at the Good Shepherd Community Church, so he wouldn’t lie, would he?

He would if it’s part of his job description, which any reporter knows, is what a public information officer gets paid to do. Remember Nancy Perez?

But Grandjean appears to be a media sweetheart, so the reporters have probably decided that they needn’t go any further than him to report on a story.

But this time they got burned judging by all the comments people, including many PINAC readers, have left on their Facebook page and on the actual story.

And check out some of the Police One comments below. All is not lost.


Send stories, tips and videos to Carlos Miller.
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joel-Turner/679875041 Joel Turner

    The comments on the stations site are just as angry.

    http://www.katu.com/news/local/191323791.html

  • Suzanne McCarley

    Reporters think there’s only one amendment, and they think they can decide who gets to use it.

  • Gordon Freeman

    CARLOS!!! Please send me an email BEFORE launching these bombs. I need to stock up on popcorn, hotdogs, and beer (fortunately pizza can be delivery).

  • Name

    “At least the officers who take a little bride…”

    Well I wish them both good luck!

  • SFCRetired

    What is disheartening to me is that so many Americans are not familiar with their rights or do not stand up to those who would violate those rights. The ones I see violated, with little meaningful resistance, the most are the First, the Second, and the Fourth. Makes me wonder what this country will look like by the time my grandchildren are my age.

    • Frank Ney

      I blame the public schools, which do not teach civics.

  • Difdi

    I looked up the Oregon Revised Statutes, and Oregon’s definition of armed robbery is almost identical to Washington’s. There is no exemption for police unlawfully seizing property or for ignorance of the law.

    When the officer threatened to arrest her if she didn’t surrender the camera, he violated her 1st, 4th and 5th amendment rights, and arguably the 14th as well. That’s Coercion, which is a felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison under Oregon laws. When he grabbed the camera, that’s first degree robbery (he was visibly armed at the time) which adds 20 years to the maximum possible sentence. Then there’s 18USC242, which could result in 1-40 years, depending on whether being visibly armed poses a threat of a dangerous weapon, and whether the violations are counted individually or as a single violation of rights.

    Police don’t often think about the oath they swore, but it’s a good idea to do so. There is no circumstance where a lawful order or lawful policy would cause an officer to violate his or her service oath. If an action is about to cross that line, it’s one hell of a clue-by-four that the officer should refuse to take that action.

    • io-io

      Where is the DA filing charges against the police officer? This needs to happen. How about charges against the rest of the officers on scene who “conspired”? How about the PIO and the Police Chief – are they not conspiring also? When is all of this scheduled to go to the Grand Jury? If the DA does not file, he should be considered to be conspiring too. Maybe this needs to go to the FBI and the State’s Attorney General.

      Citizens are pummeled with charges – every charge a police officer can dig up. The opposite can also occur, and this is one instance that has all of the elements.

      This is one way to bring honest policing back to the public.

      • ExCop-LawStudent

        The DA isn’t going to file charges because a judge would laugh him out of court. It doesn’t meet the elements of the offense, specifically as to mens rea.

        • Difdi

          Except that if you or I or any other private citizen did to her what that cop did, the fact we believed we were in the right would not save us from prison.

          • ExCop-LawStudent

            True, but I’m also unaware of any law, either common or statutory that allows a private citizen to seize evidence. If there was such a law, then the mens rea for robbery would not be met and there would not be an offense.

            I can show plenty of examples from all states showing private citizens who were exonerated based on a lack of mens rea.

          • io-io

            The police officer did not have the backing of the law to seize evidence
            in this case either (the video was being streamed to the web), let
            alone to view it (no warrant, nor did he attempt to obtain one). He
            lied, he coerced, he falsified, he appears to have at least assaulted
            (maybe even battery) in the process. – I have to remember that police
            officers are legally able to lie, cheat and steal – citizens are not
            allowed to since that would be yet another charge.

            The bottom line is that this police officer went out of his way to
            violate the process, and to make it worse the police department is
            defending him. The whole department is corrupt – OK, the officer, the
            PIO and the Police Chief as a minimum should be shown the door. An
            example should be set.

            In the Navy, a PO3 did not due the proper paper work on the submarine’s
            reactor chemistry. The Leading Petty Officer, the Chief Petty Officer,
            the Engineering Officer, the Executive Officer and the Captain were all
            replaced. Confidence was lost. Career ending events for all of them.
            There was no re-training. The Admiral fired them and they were gone.

            Again, Confidence is being lost by the public – who pays the taxes, that
            pays for the police department. Internal Affairs should be replaced by
            a Grand Jury. The police are no better than any average citizen. We
            are told that Ignorance of the law is no excuse. So do we want police officers who are ignorant of the law, who go around making up their own laws and then enforce them?

            One last item, “I can show plenty of examples from all states showing
            private citizens who were exonerated based on a lack of mens rea.” -
            were they exonerated only after spending the weekend in jail, trying to
            recover from the beatings they received while not resisting arrest?
            Also, having to put up bail and engage defense console to defend
            themselves and then how about their bank account? Was that made whole
            by the government after being exonerated? What penalty did the
            arresting officer receive? Was the DA hit with malicious prosecution
            charges?

            I know that I am being extremely harsh – black & white. I am not
            anti-police in the least. I am just tired of what the bad apples in the
            police departments have turned them into. I am just trying to make a point.

          • ExCop-LawStudent

            Look, the officer was wrong. He needed a subpoena.

            If the video was not for dissemination to the public, he would have been within his rights in most states to seize the phone, pending obtaining a search warrant. If he was not aware of the PPA, then the seizure was made in good faith.

            Even so, he is likely to be liable for violating the PPA.

            Why? Because ignorance of the PPA doesn’t allow him to walk away. See the opinion in Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service.

            I would tone down your rhetoric some on the officer. What did he lie about? Nothing that I heard him say was a lie. What did he falsify? Ditto. Both, if not supported by evidence, are defamation. Plus, if Medina does sue and get damages, he may need to extra money.

            Believe me, I’m not defending his actions, I believe he was wrong. It is difficult to believe that so many on the internet are advocating charges against him that have no basis in law, and who don’t want to accept the truth about what is required. I was in a discussion with someone a while back that actually believed the internet BS that you could use force against an officer who was making an unlawful arrest, up to and including deadly force. It seems that he read that two cases allowed this. The problem was is that neither case said what the internet experts alleged.

          • http://www.facebook.com/zachary.reinoehl Zachary Reinoehl

            My rights are bequeathed to me not by any state or institution which derives it powers from the arbitrary agreements of others. You will not find my signature on any legal document subjecting myself (my person or property) to the authority of any other man, and these documents, while sometimes possessing a degree of merit and justice, do little to impact my character or the way in which I behave. My allegiance is to myself and to the contracts into which I have knowingly and willfully entered. If deadly force be necessary to defend myself or my property, it is a right which I claim as a man–no more or less a man than any other. I respect the right of men to subject themselves to “the rule of law,” but I will only hold the law as valid if it pertain equally to all persons, regardless of race, creed, profession, or social status. My rights are mine not by the good grace of any other man or group of men, for I know of no other man who might claim to have such a superior constitution that by his word I might be bound. If it be the will of my neighbor to enforce his doctrine upon me without my consent, the force with which I respond could not logically be considered offensive, but defensive.

          • ExCop-LawStudent

            Yeah, OK.

            Sounds sort of like the “sovereign” citizen or “freeman on the land” BS.

          • Joe Anybody

            FYI: Medina is a woman :-)

          • Difdi

            Cop shows drill the need for warrants into people’s heads. Police training is supposed to as well.
            Knowing all of that, how can you seize something you need a warrant to seize without acting in bad faith?

          • ExCop-LawStudent

            Easy, the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit warrantless searches and seizures, it only prohibits unreasonable ones.

          • Difdi

            A good rule of thumb on whether a search requires a warrant, would be to ask “If I (as a cop) saw a citizen do the same thing, would I make an arrest?”

          • ExCop-LawStudent

            Apples (arrests) and oranges (search) and bananas (seizures).

            Different rules.

            I’ve got to reiterate, I enjoy these conversations with you, even if we disagree. It forces me to think. :D

          • Difdi

            Which makes a good fruit salad. But you ignored my point.

            If a citizen does A, B and C and a cop watching them do it wanders over to make an arrest, it should be a good rule of thumb for that cop that if he wants to do A, B and C he should probably get a warrant first.
            Sure, there will be times when he applies for a warrant he doesn’t need. But it will also ensure that when he does need a warrant, he’ll have one.

          • ExCop-LawStudent

            The reason for the fruit salad is this.

            If A,B, and C are criminal acts, then he doesn’t need a warrant, they occurred within his presence or view.

            If A, B, and C are clearly identifiable items of contraband, such as 5 kilos of marijuana, then the doesn’t need a warrant, contraband may be seized if within plain view.

            If A, B, and C are video tapes that contain obscene material outside an adult theater, then he should get a warrant, since seizing them would be prior restraint of free speech.

            Different rules, dependent on what A, B, and C are.

          • Difdi

            Now you’re willfully ignoring my point. I’m done with you until you take the blinders off.

          • ExCop-LawStudent

            No, I’m saying that the proposal you make is not clear enough due to the wide differences between the different police actions.

            I’m all for warrants. I taken PC affidavits out to a judge at his house in the country on weekends, in the middle of the night, etc. There are also times where a warrant is not needed.

          • Difdi

            True. But better to apply for one when it’s not needed, than to assume one is not needed when it IS needed.

        • io-io

          So as I understand it, and as you point out – it appears that police
          officers need “mens rea” or a guilty mind in this instance, to have
          committed a crime. Gee, he gave the phone back – he did not keep it, no
          harm, no foul. So please educate me as to a police officer stealing a
          phone to see if it recorded his possible crime as opposed to some
          teenagers who “borrow” a car for a joy ride – they certainly do not have
          a guilty mind – they never intended to actually keep the car. They
          even returned it – without a scratch or ding. They even washed the car. I am sure that there are kids in jail who did this
          exact same thing – even after having returning the car.

          Let’s use exactly the same circumstances, but reverse the roles.
          Citizen wants to see if the police officer had captured some
          inappropriate action by the citizen. Citizen ask the police officer to
          see the video, officer says no, citizen takes the camera/phone – being
          sure to say thank you, and proceeds to view the video, and returns the
          phone. (Actually the citizen would be beaten and tasered to a pulp -
          immediately after the “thank you”.) Does the law really expect me to buy the
          argument that the citizen will actually walk away from this scenario
          with their freedom and liberty still whole? I don’t think that the DA
          would feel that he would be laughed out of court by the Judge? The
          citizen would be spending some time in the slammer – right after he was
          discharged from the prison ward in the hospital handcuffed to the bed.

          So – you are telling me that I can steal something, and returning it,
          thus demonstrating “mens rea”, that no crime was committed?

          Sorry, but as an Engineer, the laws I use are the Laws of Physics and Mathematics, that tend to be pretty absolute.

          This is a wonderful example of why the folks of this country are getting
          pretty sick and tired of the bad apples in the police force, the DAs,
          the Judges and especially the lawyers. What happens when the citizenry
          of this country completely looses all confidence in the legal system? Is it
          the intent of the legal system to beat the confidence back into the
          citizenry?

          • ExCop-LawStudent

            Anyone needs mens rea. A crime consists of two parts, actus reus (the actual physical act) and mens rea (the intent).

            For robbery, you have to have larceny plus assault and / or battery. The common law mens rea for larceny is to intend to deprive the owner permanently of their property. You don’t have that intent when it is taken and held for evidence. The property will, at some point, be released back to the owner. It is no different if you are at an office and pick up someone else’s briefcase, believing that it is yours. Once you discover the error, you return it. You didn’t have the necessary intent to permanently deprive the owner.

            Your joyriding example is not valid. That is a separate offense in most states, by statute, commonly called unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. In other words, it is not a larceny offense, at least in the common law sense.

            Your strawman scenario on the tape is completely off-base also. A police officer, by law, has been empowered (normally by statute) with the authority to use force for a lawful purpose, such as seizing evidence. A private citizen doesn’t have that authority in the case you outlined. On the other hand, in almost every state, a citizen can, in fresh pursuit, use force to recover stolen property (think shoplifter). Or to make a citizen’s arrest.

            The difference is the standard of liability. An officer has qualified immunity in most cases. A citizen is held to strict liability on the use of force in both situations I outlined. It is intended to discourage the use of “self-help” and to use the courts to resolve grievances.

            Mediana’s case is an example of that–she can go to court on a PPA claim and likely recover.

          • Joe Anybody

            how many times can you grab the wrong briefcase before we all know its a ruse and a phony excuse. grabbing the wrong (cough) briefcase while intending to use the provided qualified (cough) immunity loopholes, to navigate through the good old boy (fixed) system. If he made a mistake let it be known, but how many chances and ‘do-overs’ do the police get for grabbing the briefcase, errr I mean cell phone – video camera?

          • ExCop-LawStudent

            He’s not going to get any do-overs if Mediana files suit. He (or more likely the city) will get to pay damages.

    • ExCop-LawStudent

      You still have to meet the mens rea requirements, which is intent to permanently deprive the owner of her property. Kind of hard to do that when the property has already been returned.

      • Difdi

        The Oregon statute does not require that the property in question be kept. It is the violent act that matters. The act also cannot be in good faith, because such a search and seizure requires a warrant or exigent circumstances, the latter are spelled out in the statutes. Either the officer is so untrained and/or incompetent he doesn’t qualify to hold his job, or he lacked good faith.

        • ExCop-LawStudent

          Yeah, it does. Look up the case law.

          See State v. Langis, 251 Or. 130, 132, 444 P.2d 959, 960 (1968) (“Intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently….”).

          Langis is still good law. You have to have the intent, or it is not a crime.

  • http://www.facebook.com/northoftheborder.gold NorthoftheBorder Gold

    yeah, there are a lot of negative comments about this story on their webpage.

  • Tijuana Joe

    Shit, if that reporter is “on my side” I hate to think about who the Bad Guys are…

  • Sean Cooper

    Carlos – the “already explained” link brings up a “page not found” error. Just an FYI.

  • No_Smoking

    This is very sad. There needs to be more public education on what we can legally do. Story’s like the one published by KATU only incite fear into the general public. I know when I first watched/read it.. I thought wow, the risk is too great so I just wont video anything police related. Since ANY legal fee’s or cost would be too great being a low income family.

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