A week after Phoenix police turned Raymond Rodden’s life upside down because he photographed a federal building, they returned his iPhone, iPad and Macintosh computer, which they had been holding as “evidence” – even though his only crime was that he had walked into a public alleyway, a bogus charge that only applies to vehicles.
And the video he recorded on his iPhone prior to his arrest confirms what he told Photography is Not a Crime in an interview – that he had annoyed them by refusing to provide his identification.But if all he was doing was photographing a federal building, then he is under no legal requirement to provide identification.
After all, if there was any doubt about the legality of photographing federal buildings, it was clarified in a 2010 settlement with the Department of Homeland Security.
The above video captured his initial encounter with the cops after he had photographed the Sandra Day O’Connor United States Courthouse.
A cop pulls up to him and asks for his identification, which prompted him to ask if he was being detained. When the cop told him he wasn’t being detained, then he asked if he was free to go, which the cop said yes. But that led to several cop cars following him as well as one cop on foot.
When he stepped into an alleyway, they pounced on him, citing him with Phoenix Municipal Code 36-31 – which falls under the “miscellaneous traffic and vehicle regulations” section – and states “no person shall use an alley within the city as a thoroughfare except authorized emergency vehicles.”
They then jailed him on an old warrant from California, which was not even valid in Arizona, so he was released a few hours later when San Obispo County sheriff officials said they have no intention of extraditing him.
Meanwhile, police discovered the car he was driving was parked in front of their station, so they had their bomb squad dismantle it before impounding it.
But the car belonged to his boss whose house he was living in, which led to him getting evicted and losing his job.
All because he was photographing the courthouse at 3 a.m.
Although police had no legal basis to maintain possession of his devices, they kept pressuring him into allowing them to search through them.
All three devices are password protected and he wouldn’t give them permission, so they finally broke down and agreed to return the items. It’s not much different than what Eric Faden went through in South Florida with Hialeah police, except he was forced to retain a lawyer who filed a court order.
It’s obvious Rodden has a hell of a case on his hands and he has been talking to the ACLU, but they have not assured him they would take it, so he’s hoping he can find another lawyer who would like to take this case.
If you’re out there, email me at the address below and I will forward the message to him.