A California parking enforcement officer issuing tickets walked up to a man video recording him Wednesday and snatched his camera, telling him to “get that camera out of my face.”
Nevada City parking enforcement officer Jack Ward then walked away with the phone as Tony Loro tried to take his phone back.
Loro said the camera turned off during the seizure, so the rest of the interaction was not captured on video, but he said he ended up with a three-inch laceration on his hand as he tried to grab his phone back.
“Go ahead, take a swing at me,” Ward told Loro, according to Loro’s detailed description of the incident, which he sent to police Wednesday and I’ve posted below.
The altercation drew the attention of a district attorney deputy and eventually Nevada City Police Chief Jim Wickham, who has been on the job about a month.
It all began when Loro inserted coins in the expired meters of cars that did not belong to him, which did not stop Ward from issuing those cars a citation anyway.
Loro turned on the video camera on his phone and questioned him about that, which prompted the strong-armed seizure.
Chief Wickham later told Loro that it was against the law to insert coins in meters that did not pertain to his car, which may or may not be true, but it is even more against the law to snatch a person’s camera out of their hands.
It took ten minutes for Ward to return Loro’s phone. Loro then began video recording statements from eye witnesses, which prompted mockery from Ward. One of those videos is below.
Nevada City police have assured Loro they are conducting an “internal investigation.”
Loro, whose hand caused him enough pain to visit the local emergency room, said he will not let this issue go until Ward is fired or arrested. And incidents like this are rare in the Northern California town with a population of just over 3,000.
“It’s a sleepy little town not much crime, a few street people but mostly it is known as a cool and groovy place to live,” Loro wrote in an email to Photography is Not a Crime.
Here is his statement to police:
I had never seen parking enforcement happening in Nevada city so when I walked over to take a picture of it happening (the scooter is cool. Disk brakes!), Jack the Parking Guy asked me what I was doing. I replied I was taking a photo. He asked why, I said just because. He walked back to his tricycle and then I went over to look at the meters for 2 other cars he pulled up next to them as I was putting dimes in the meters. (Which I subsequently was informed by the chief is not legal.)
He brought out his citation book and it as it looked like he was going to continue writing citations I brought up my phone and activated the video record.
If you look at the video you can see that I stand still next to the meters and Jack turns around and walks back to me, gets in my face and personal space and then tells me to get the camera out of HIS face. Followed immediately by him snatching the camera from my hand. In doing so his hand shut off the record of the video.
He walks away towards his tricycle and stops and turns around confronts me as I am now asking him to return my property. I don’t know if he said anything to me during this time. I would estimate about 10 to 15 seconds of me asking for my property back elapsed before I reached for my phone clutched to his chest in his right hand. I did not assume a combative stance, and I did not threaten him with physical violence. As I did he brought his left hand down holding the microphone. He used enough force to inflict a 3 inch laceration on the medial opisthenar part of my hand above the thumb joint. I now started shouting for the police and to attract attention of citizens nearby. While I shouted, Jack stared at me and then said “Go ahead, take a swing at me” as if he knew that my doing that would make me the criminal and him being part of law enforcement would be able to have the police arrive arrest and possibly inflict injury on me. I would like to state that I don’t believe Nevada City PD would do that but I think that he did.
I shouted until a person identified as a member of the District Attorney’s Office walked over and came between us. I asked him to identify himself but in the heat of the moment I do not recall his name. I asked Jack to identify himself but he did not reply. I told the DA deputy what Jack had done and that I wanted my phone back. He wisely kept us separated until officer Chad Ellis and Chief James Whitcomb arrived. EMS was called and the dispatch from the Coyote Street NCCFD arrived.
While the DA deputy had us separated a citizen who had been watching volunteered his testimony if I needed such. This gentleman was later identified to me with the name “Garlic”. After he had done so, Jack with a sneer on his face related that ” no one will believe that “fucking tweaker”. Luckily the video and another witness (Edvard ********) were able to substantiate my story.
I believe from this point on you have experienced the rest of the incident. I do know it took 5 min. for me to get you to get my phone from Jack’s hand.
I believe this incident was precipitated by Jack’s attitude toward a citizen videotaping him during the performance of his duties. The video clearly shows I was standing still and he turned around and walked back to me where I asked him a question, then he got closer still and grabbed my phone. While I appreciate the chief’s apology and his statement about this being a small town, it is a town in California not Harlan County Kentucky. People who represent law or parking enforcement do not and shall not take property from citizens in the public milieu and then beat them when they want their property back.