A Connecticut cop arrested a man who tried to photograph him with an iPhone Wednesday, claiming he did so because the man placed the phone one foot away from him face, challenging him to a fight.
I’m not really buying that story but that is how police reported it to the Middletown Press.
And I’ve tried to reach out to Edgardo Quinones, a 50-year-old man whose only previous arrest, according to public records, is a 2008 conviction of interference with officer/resisting arrest for which he paid a $100 fine, but haven’t had much success, although I did leave a message in the voicemail of a man with the same name who lives in the same area.
I’ve also sent an email to the reporter earlier today, looking for more background, but she has not responded, so this is the story that we have so far:
According to police, Quinones was on Main Street when he took out his phone to take a picture of an officer. He then proceeded to move the phone within a foot of the officer’s face. The officer, who pushed the phone away, told him he could take all the photos he wanted, but that he could not shove things in his face.
Quinones began to argue, police said, and he allegedly told the officer, “That’s all right. When I’m not working and you’re not working, we’ll settle it on the street.”
The officer took this comment as threatening to cause him physical harm when he was off duty. Police said that the officer approached Quinones and told him he had heard the threat and that he was under arrest. Quinones then began to resist police, and he was eventually cuffed as he continued to struggle, police said.
Quinones was charged with second-degree threatening, second-degree breach of peace and resisting arrest. He was held on a $25,000 surety bond and is set to appear in court on June 26.
This is why I’m not buying it. In the six years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve covered hundreds of stories where people get arrested after trying to record police and I can’t remember a single incident of anything like this happening, although I’ve covered numerous stories where police claim they were assaulted when they were the ones who did the actual assaulting.
Not saying it isn’t possible but common sense tells us we’re not going to get a quality photo or video if you shove the phone in the cop’s face. And usually people who record police are very careful not to challenge them to a fight.
Yes, there are many that can be very assertive and condescending. And there are a few who have been downright insulting, making me cringe as I watch the video because that’s not the way we should handle ourselves, even though I’ve been guilty of using profanity to cops when they have tried to block my shot, which is considered protected speech.
And even if it were true, it is not something I would expect from a 50-year-old man who has no previous arrests for violence. Even the most hardened criminal will generally avoid picking fights with cops once they reach that age.
Unless, maybe, he happened to be drunk, which makes one wonder why he wouldn’t have been charged with public intoxication.
It turns out, Connecticut doesn’t have a such law because they treat such incidents as public health issues rather than criminal issues, according to a lawyer’s site from that state.
Instead of penalizing public intoxication, Connecticut law authorizes law enforcement to provide assistance to intoxicated people. An intoxicated person is one whose mental or physical functioning is substantially impaired by use of alcohol or drugs. A police officer finding a person in public who appears intoxicated and in need of help may transport the person home, to a treatment facility, or to a hospital or other facility as long as the person consents.
If a police officer finds a person who is incapacitated by alcohol, the law requires that the officer take the person into protective custody and transport the person to a treatment facility or hospital. The medical officer examines the person and determines whether the person requires inpatient treatment. Connecticut law defines an incapacitated person as one whose judgment is so impaired from consuming alcohol that the person is unable to make rational decisions regarding the need for treatment.
So if he had been drunk and challenging the cop to a fight after getting in his face with an iPhone, then the cop would have been required to take him to a treatment center or hospital, not a jail where he was slapped with a $25,000 bond.
So I’m hoping to eventually get the other side of this story. If you live in Middletown, maybe you can help me out. Send me an email to the address below to talk about it.
And tell me if you think I’m wrong to be so skeptical.
UPDATE: I should have searched my own archives before writing this as I happened to write about Middletown police officers detaining a man earlier this month for photographing a police station.
I also wrote about them last year after they confiscated a man’s camera.