A California cop who was being video recorded by a smartphone said she was in fear for her life because the phone could have possibly been a gun, marking at least the fourth time this year a cop in this country has uttered those nonsensical words.
After all, if Detective Shannon Todd of the Newark Police Gang Unit was really so stupid to believe that the phone could have been a gun, then why did she first order the citizen to place it back into his pocket?
The truth is, she feared being the victim of a viral Youtube video instead of a fatal bullet, which is why she ordered the citizen to place his hands behind his back.
The video was uploaded to Youtube April 30 and reposted on ExCopLawStudent’s blog earlier this month. As of this writing, it only has 212 views, but that is likely to change once it starts making the rounds.
The trend of insinuating cell phones can be guns began earlier this year when Juan “Biggie” Santana had his Sony Bloggie confiscated by Hialeah police officer Antonio Sentmanat in South Florida.
It continued when San Diego police officer Martin Reinhold slapped a phone out of Adam Pringle’s hands and arrested him while writing him a citation for smoking a cigarette on a beach boardwalk.
Then again in Arkansas when a cop ripped an iPhone out of a man’s hands who had been trying to document the Exxon oil spill outside Little Rock.
Reinhold told Pringle that he had specifically been trained to assume cell phones could be guns, which is apparently a training lesson being taught at police departments throughout the country.
And it’s obviously a tactic meant to dissuade video recording rather than ensure officer safety because the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a cell phone gun was in an outdated bulky phone with an antenna sticking out, as you can see in the video below.
In fact, that weapon never even made it to the United States, according to ExCopLawStudent, a former cop turned law student who firmly believes in the right of officers to ensure their safety, but who also understands police paranoia doesn’t override the Constitution.
In 2000 or 2001, police in Europe discovered a four-shot gun disguised as a cellphone. Since then police officers in the United States have claimed on multiple occasions that civilians who were recording video with their cellphones had to put the phone down. Why? Because it could be a weapon.
Geez, guys, you’re killing us. There have been no cellphone guns recovered in the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
In addition, there are exactly zero court cases that discuss the issue. As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the legal world that discuss the issue. No law review articles, no trial or appellate briefs, nothing.
The truth is, as cell phones have gotten slimmer and smaller and smarter, bullets have remained the same size, so it would be almost impossible to turn a smartphone into a gun.
Although there apparently is a case where a gun was disguised to look like a camera as you can see in the image below, which was submitted to the PINAC forums by Jeff Gray.
The fact is, guns can be concealed in almost anything these days, including wallets, umbrellas and keychains, but we haven’t seen any cases where police are fearing their lives over those items.
But we’ve seen plenty of cases of police fearing the camera without ever insinuating it could be a gun.
In the above Newark case, the citizen continues recording after the cops verified the phone was not a gun until he was ordered away or be arrested for interfering.
Send stories, tips and videos to Carlos Miller.