June 19th, 2013

NYPD Cop Arrests Man for Photographing Police Station from Public Sidewalk 216

By Carlos Miller

A New York City police officer  grabbed a man off a public sidewalk for photographing a police department after the man refused to disclose why he was taking photos.

Randall Thomas told Photography is Not a Crime he was taking photos to prepare for an upcoming trial stemming from a January arrest in which police deleted his footage after he had recorded them making an abusive arrest.

Not that any of that was the cop’s business who harassed him Saturday for taking photos outside the Police Service Area 3 Housing Bureau in Brooklyn.

Thomas was placed in a cell and held for almost an hour before he was released with two citations for disorderly conduct, one for blocking traffic, the other for obscene language – as if that is not protected by the First Amendment.

Regardless, the video Thomas recorded with his smartphone shows he did not block traffic nor use obscene language in his interaction with Officer Soto, which begins at 4:30.

Soto obviously had no idea Thomas was video recording with his handheld smartphone as he was taking photos with his DSLR because he most likely would have deleted the footage considering it proves he is a liar.

NYPD Officer Soto

“You’re making a lot of people very uncomfortable,” Soto tells Thomas, who was standing in front of a gated entrance to a parking lot where cars were coming in and out. “We don’t know who you are.”

“How do I know you’re not a terrorist taking pictures of the building so you can find out where you’re going to put a bomb,” he continues, oblivious to the fact that Google Earth will probably reveal every nook and cranny of that building to anybody in the world with an internet connection.

“If you think I’m a terrorist, then you’re an idiot and you shouldn’t be a police officer because you’re incompetent,” Thomas responds.

“I got nothing but eight-and-a-half hours so I’ll follow you around and stand right in front of you”, Soto states, crossing his arms defiantly. “And that’s not a crime.”

“It’s a waste of taxpayer’s money but it’s not a crime,” Thomas responds.

“Fine, I’m getting paid, you’re not. I’ll stand out here all day,” Soto states.

Soto keeps taunting him before finally arresting him at 8:20 in the video.

Thomas, who has been arrested several times in New York City for taking photos, including one time when he was arrested by Homeland Security in 2009, has already filed a complaint with the King County District Attorney Civil Rights and Police Integrity Bureau & Corruption Bureau as well as the Commission to Combat Police Corruption.

Send stories, tips and videos to Carlos Miller.
  • rick

    Can’t wait for the update, charges dropped and lawsuit filed.

    • srandallthomas

      Got a call from a law firm in the city this morning. They saw this story. Turns out they sued this guy in the past for his strong arm tactics. Possibly more than once. I plan to meet with them tomorrow. #update

      • jimmarch

        The moment the cop admitted you weren’t doing anything wrong yet arrested you anyways he tossed all notions of “qualified immunity” for himself PERSONALLY right out the Goddamn window. Awesome. The city is probably on the hook too.

        You used what some of us call the “two camera trick”: obvious-cam and hidden-cam. Major kudos to you! The only other upgrade you ought to consider is remote uploading of the video to a server somewhere else. You need a smartphone with a 4G data connection and one of a number of apps…I use bambuser.com myself.

        • Proud GrandPa

          There was a time gap between the cop’s saying the photographer was doing nothing wrong and the later event(s) that justified the arrest. I found the event on the video. You can too.
          He was not arrested for photojournalism. He was arrested for what he spoke. Obscenity is not protected by the first amendment.
          Take home message: Avoid profanity when asserting your rights. If he’d just kept silent, the LEO would have had no reason to arrest.

          • Farid Rushdi

            Profanity USED to not be protected but it is now. Virtually every police department specifically has wording like, “The use of profanity towards an officer can not in and of itself be used to make an arrest.”

            When I was a kid, you could get arrested for profanity (violating the peace they called it back home in Virginia) but today you can pretty much go nose-to-nose with an officer and call him bad names.

            Is it different where you live?

          • Proud GrandPa

            I am not sure of the status of profanity under federal law. Porn is protected. Obscenity is not protected. Our friend in the video owns a ticket for obscenity, not for profanity or pornography, so we need to focus upon rulings about what is obscene.
            It would be interesting to hear what the LEO says is obscene and how the courts rule. Anyone know of a federal precedent legalizing obscenity?

          • Difdi

            Obscenity would be exposing yourself to a cop.

            Foul language would have to utilize words not found in the English language to qualify as obscene, since no English word is foul enough to reach such a hypothetical level. And since the SCOTUS ruling on the matter was about speech, it might not be possible for any spoken word to be obscene.

            You’re the only one suggesting that obscenity is legal; But you keep conflating verbal profanity with obscenity, which neither statute or case law does.

          • bj

            Take a look at this for profanity toward a cop

          • bj

            Other angle of same incident, taken by detained individual Antonio Buehler

            He got balls :) and been a victim of police brutality and lies after the fact before

          • srandallthomas

            If a tree falls in a forest and no one heard it, did it fall.

            In the case of obscenity/profanity towards a police officer in NYC, the answer is no.

            In this case the tree, fowl words, has to fall on the ears of the civilian public.

            However, there were no fowl words and no civilian public.

          • srandallthomas

            You are mistaken. The video is complete. The only editing was to flip it because the original is upside down, and YouTube edit to stabilize the video.

            Secondly, the bases for the arrest was supposed to be blocking traffic, I have no idea where the obscenity charge comes from. I never cursed once. However, even if I did it’s protected speech. Moreover, the charges are both Disorderly Conduct charges which requires there to be civilians present, which there were none.

            So in a nutshell, what you see is what happened. It was an illegal arrest.

          • srandallthomas

            I should mention that this is not just one video, but four or five videos all put on one video. The most important video is the one of the arrest but I wanted to show all the video, as they along with the still shots are relevant.

          • Proud GrandPa

            Thanks for the reply. I appreciate your addressing questions.
            What do you recall saying to the LEO just before the arrest? The sound quality is open to interpretation.
            The US Supreme Court ruled that porn is protected speech, but obscenity is not. I was not referring to profanity. Not sure of the status of profanity.
            Personally I’d like to make it all illegal. I have too much respect for myself and for others to use abusive language or language that demeans marriage and normal sex life. Currently that is no longer the law in America… for now.
            Other repliers here wrote that profanity or foul language are protected. Perhaps, but if anyone knows of a recent ruling at the federal level which legalizes obscenity, please post a reference. Thanks.

          • srandallthomas

            I asked “Are you gonna write a summons”.

          • srandallthomas

            As to the sound quality. I think it had to do with the way that I was holding the phone. When I was on high alert, I held the phone up. Toward the end I think I held the phone lower with the mic/speaker in my palm.
            That would be my best guess.

          • Difdi

            Rulings don’t have to be recent to be valid. Precedent-setting rulings remain valid until a higher court (or the same level, in the case of the Supreme Court) modify them or overturn then, or the relevant law behind the ruling is changed.

            Unless someone amends the first amendment or the Supreme Court decides it made a mistake about verbal abuse and rude gestures, their decision stands. It does not expire with time.

          • steveo

            Calling a supreme court justice (Sandra Day O’Connor) a cxxt, would qualify as obscenity, only the Supreme Court didn’t see it that way.

            All they said, is that these are words, nothing more. Fighting words are different, we all know what fighting words are: “I’m going to kick your ass, Pick up that phone and I’ll choke you to death, Move one inch and I’ll take your balls off.”

            Calling someone a Whore, or a coxxsucker, or a motherfxxxer. is not fighting words.

          • hazy

            Profanity has been ruled to be protected speech in the past. Look up cases where giving the middle finger was ruled protected speech.

          • Freedom_Fighter_of_America

            Cursing and Obscene language is protected by the first amendment, the 1rst amendment protects that which is offensive, not just pretty and pleasing to the ear.

          • steveo

            If they want to make “obscenity” illegal, they have to give us a list of words, so that we understand what is “obscenity” and what isn’t. How about Pendejo? That doesn’t sound obscene but in Mexico it is. Are foreign language words ok to say even though in their country it would be obscene? But here it’s not? How about vagina? Some people think vagina is obscene? Or how about Cock? Is that okay if you are talking about chickens or Johnny the Wad? Or how about prick? is that an obscene word or can we say, ” the police officer pricked me with his taser probe.”

          • Difdi

            Exactly. Some people use the word abortion as profanity. I’ve encountered many people to whom Republican is a dirty word. Where would it end?

            No one ever needed a protected right to say exactly what people want to hear. The fact that we do have such a protected right makes it pretty clear it protects the right to offend people.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            Pendejo will get you hit by most people in Texas.

          • steveo

            There it’s on the list even if you can’t talk in Spanish.

          • Proud GrandPa

            The Supreme Court ruled that obscenity is not protected by the US Constitution.

          • Difdi

            Obscenity would be flashing the officer. Swearing at him is protected speech, as is giving an officer the finger. The US Supreme Court has said so, after all.

            Exercise of a constitutional right cannot be reasonable suspicion or probable cause. If the only reason for the arrest was exercise of a right, then the arrest was improper at best.

            If the arrest was to prevent exercise of a right, the officer is guilty of a federal crime punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and a year in prison (18USC242).

        • Farid Rushdi

          I don’t blame the officers on the street who do these things because–really–I just don’t think they are smart enough to realize they are doing something illegal.

          I blame the supervisors who instead of saying at roll call every morning, “Remember, citizens can record us, they can record pretty much everywhere. If you think there is a problem contact a supervisor first,” they don’t say a word and then when a problem happens they give the beat officer a wink and a pat on the back and say, “I’ve got your back.”

          There the ones who need to be fired.

          • 3Dobes

            You are saying that the people who carry guns, tasers and pepper spray, can take away your freedom and ruin your life… are not smart enough to know the very thing they are employed to know?
            We should be very afraid.

          • Farid Rushdi

            I get your point, totally.

            What I am saying is this:

            Let’s say you get a job as a gun salesman. You screw up on your first rifle sale and don’t fill out the proper forms. Instead of your boss writing you up and threatening to fire you, he says, “Oh don’t worry about it. No one looks at those forms anyway. If it happens again don’t sweat it. If anyone asks I’ll say I “took care of it.”

            You get caught doing it. How can I as the owner blame you when you were basically doing what you were told or that you knew you’d get away with it?

            Doesn’t make you any less culpable — rather you wouldn’t have done it if your boss had done his job.

            That said, I AM afraid. Very afraid.

          • Difdi

            Ignorance of the law does not excuse violations of it for those of us who are not trained law enforcement professionals, why on Earth would you think we should excuse ignorance in those who are such professionals?

            Any police officer who is too ignorant to know how to do his job properly needs to be trained up or fired, since he’s not qualified to hold the job. Any officer too stupid to learn was never qualified to be hired in the first place.

        • srandallthomas

          Been using bambuser for a few years. But haven’t used it in cases like this until what happened in January. Not giving full details yet. I’ve been watching the debate on a few sites over this issue. I think some people are missing the mark.

          They have no idea how corrupt PSA3 is. PSA is NYPD’s Public Housing Police. They were unified with NYPD, and Transit PD to make up one PD under the previous mayor.

          All I can say is that people have no idea what these guys really are. I’ve been a first hand witness to what they do for more than 30 years. They are bad, worst than the general “NYPD” by far and the general “NYPD” is pretty bad itself.

      • Jeffrey Marcus Gray

        If a LEO follows a citizen around and that citizen is doing nothing illegal….the LEO is commiting the crime of harassment. If the LEO is blocking the citizens ability to photograph….the LEO is commiting the crime of obstructing the citizens rights.

  • Ryan French

    At the very beginning of the encounter (4:40) the officer said “You’re not doing nothing wrong.” Wa-bam easy ammo for the defense, if it even makes it to court…

    • Rob Mahon

      AH, but it’s a double negative. You’re NOT doing NOTHING wrong! So in fact the police officer can argue that he IS!

      • Ryan French

        Ha, that’s true!

        • srandallthomas

          Considering his overall poor grammar, I think it will be viewed as an admission and not a clever trick.

          Got a call from a law firm in the city this morning. They saw this
          story. Turns out they sued this guy in the past for his strong arm
          tactics. Possibly more than once. I plan to meet with them tomorrow.

          • Hesienberg

            I am not sure why they do not fire cop that violate people’s rights. I guess the city likes paying out money for him. I hope u can sue him personally. I know he will hide behind qualified immunity coward.

          • Difdi

            Police unions are the most powerful unions on the planet — even the Teamsters don’t compare.

            They’ve got contracts that stop their members from being fired, for any reason, unless the union agrees it is justified, which the union never does. It’s easier to convict a cop than to fire one in most departments. Even if a cop gets a felony conviction (which disqualifies people from being police) some union contracts are so strong that even then the cop can’t be fired without union permission.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            Not true. It depends on where you’re at, and any contract that prohibits termination at all would be unenforceable as contrary to public policy.

          • Difdi

            So why is it that so many cops that are fired with cause get reinstated by an arbitrator that gets more money from the union than the public?

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            Because government is typically terrible about following their own rules.

            And typically the losing side pays the arbitrator.

      • Jim Morriss

        He can argue it but as the man was not doing anything wrong it would go to a “”color of authority” charge. It would also be one more example of his lying and contempt for the first amendment and the oaths he took for his job and to testify.

  • steveo

    Some leos are just dumber than a box of hammers. Don’t they realize that THEY are the story? Look, mr. cop, I don’t give a crap about your building or your cars or any of the crap I’m taking pictures of, I just want to see what YOU will do. You morons never cease to make this interesting.

    • Ray186

      You sir get it.

    • ml b

      the cops at the top of this page look as dumb as a box of hammers

      • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

        One of the officers in the photo was killed in the line of duty. Show a little respect.

        • Michael Vain

          If he was corrupt, then he deserved it. Every time a cop abuses his authority, he adds to the ill will towards cops in general. Eventually, people have had enough, and they get snipered while trying to actually do their job. Also, any cop who does not understand the possibility they won’t come home, doesn’t deserve to wear the badge. Put that in your pipe and smoke it ‘law student’.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            You’re an ass. Carlos had the good manners to comment on the officer’s death and didn’t make any derogatory comments. Instead he made some very gracious comments, and Carlos had been arrested by the officer.

            No one said that officers aren’t aware that they are in a dangerous job.

          • Michael Vain

            And you are a tool. When it comes to corrupt cops and tools, I don’t waste time with respect. When they learn to respect the public, I’ll be a bit nicer. Do us all a favor and drink Clorox. We don’t need your kind of stupid.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            LOL. Why do you think I would want your respect? You don’t matter, so you can go ahead and play with your toys now.

          • Ron

            Which cop in the photo was killed?

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            You’ll have to ask Carlos. He mentioned him by name in a post when it happened and said he was in this photo, but I’m not sure who is who in the photo.

          • Michael Vain

            I could care less about your opinion, and the only toys I play with would take more time for you to learn to use than your ’20 years’.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            LOL. That’s why you keep responding, right?

            And toys are toys, even if you are a slow learner.

          • Michael Vain

            My ‘toys’ are a euphemism for much more important skills. Look up the big words. I’ve been teaching those skills longer than you’ve been ‘on the force’. I bet you were hired during the country’s ‘hire the handicapped’ program. Average IQ for police has been in double digits for at least 20 years.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            Well, since we know that is a lie, what else have you lied about? The average IQ for police is 104. See Razib Khan, Gene Expression, Discover (Jan. 2012); Philip Bonifacio, The Psychological Effects of Police Work (1991).

            Another study shows that 70% of police officers have above average or average IQs, and 30% are below average, better than the general population obviously. See Police and Policing: Contemporary Issues (Dennis Jay Kenney & Robert P. Macnamara, eds., 1999).

            Perhaps your comments on IQ in police work are from observing your own family?

          • Michael Vain

            oooo…a whole whopping 104? Is that your reply? I bet you’re under that curve…lol. This comes from someone who is, by his own admission, an EX cop. Fired for incompetance, or quit because you’re a pussy? More than likely, your ‘law student’ is in training to be a ‘lawyer’, one of the lowest forms of life known. Either way, it screams that you have no honor, and thus deserve nothing less than the ass-kicking you would get if you ever had the balls to show your face.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            LOL. All I needed to do is prove that you lied. Of course, that wasn’t too hard.

            I did my 20 and got out. Thus, I’m an ex-cop.

            How come you aren’t out there protecting the public from all those bad cops? You could even wear a superhero suit. Maybe even a ninja suit.

          • srandallthomas


          • Michael Vain

            You’ve proven NOTHING, other than you don’t know the meaning of ‘proof’. You’re an ex-human, from where I stand. I’ve taught people to defend themselves for over 20 years. First you’re a bad-ass who puts people in the hospital, then admit your cowardice and fear. Seems like the only one that has lied is you. I grew up with both a polygraph and a P.S.E in my house, and thus was taught the meaning of having the truth on your side. You’re an EX-cop, and cops prove themselves to be consistent liars. I’m not surprised, considering that the psych profiles of cops and criminals are so similar. What a douchebag.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            LOL. Run along little ninja boy.

          • checkers

            HAHAHHAAA you look like such an idiot why would you show us this willingly

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            LOL, probably because that is not me, you moron.

          • XYZ

            It’s “I couldn’t care less.” Just thought I should point that out as you commented on intelligence. Goody day.

        • LOLOLOLOL

          It’s too bad you aren’t still on the force, perhaps you too could of provided your family with your pension and benefits after an “in the line of duty” tragedy. Try beginning replies with something other than “LOL” it just substantiates the moron you actually are. God forbid you ever pass law school and become something other than the brainless pig you once were.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            I hate to disappoint you on not dying. Geez, what was I thinking?

            Oh, I’m sorry.

            I forgot I was talking to a moron.

  • Ray186

    I just realized something. Anyone who this cop arrests should demand a trial. When you get to court you will be able to prove that this officer is a know liar. Let’s go to the video tape.

    • Jon Quimbly

      Cops are allowed to lie to suspects, to the extent it’s non-coercive. Don’t know whether that helps this cop, tho.


      • Michael Vain

        Until a person is arrested, they are not a suspect. Oh, but wait, these idiots are taught to believe that all citizens are merely ‘perpetrators who haven’t been caught yet’. Considering the low IQ of most cops hired within the last 20 years or so, I’m sure they would be more than willing to lie, steal, or break the law in any way they can to maintain their sense of imagined superiority.

  • the sage

    It is obvious that today’s law enforcement’s default premise for harassing and bullying law-abiding citizens is the potential for terrorism.
    But not based upon a “reasonable” suspicion leading to “probable” cause leading to a charge leading to a detainment or arrest for said charge.

    I regard this as a psychological problem on the part of officers instilled by deliberate training that reinforces this protocol with citizens.

    Any officer expressing this potential for terrorism in the absence of probable cause while harassing a citizen who is not breaking the law should be regarded as a terrorist.
    Because the harassing and bullying by an armed authority who has the power to arrest you while you are not doing anything illegal, but is something they just don’t like or are uncomfortable with you doing is just that…terrorism.

    This guy did a good job defending his rights, but I feel he participated in too much conversation and back and forth banter with the officer.

    He had the right idea, stated it to the officer, but actually did not follow through on it.

    “I am not doing anything wrong and not breaking any laws”
    “I am not interested nor do I consent with any dialogue with you”
    “Stop talking with me, stop asking me questions and for you to continue to do so is harassment.”
    “Stop harassing me.”
    “Leave me alone”.
    “Stop standing close to me, pacing in front of me and attempting to purposefully obstruct my view preventing me from lawfully photographing or filming as that is harassment.”
    “Please leave and please leave me alone.”

    …Then under all circumstances or whatever may be said to you, continue to film and above all else….REMAIN SILENT.

    I would have liked to see this gentleman limit himself to those statements during the encounter just to see what the outcome would have been.

    If the officer continues to dialogue with you despite having said all of this then remain silent and act as of the officer is not there, transparent, a ghost. And by remaining silent with the officer still bothering you, then you have not participated or consented to the encounter and his harassment of you is still obvious and definable.

    It takes a bit of effort to remain composed when an officer is barraging you with questions like this, but he wants you to consent to dialogue so he can debate and argue with you further to escalate the situation to give himself a reason to something more drastic.

    • Kriegar

      I called the police once for a peeping tom. They were pissed off at ME because it was my neighbor. I don’t care if he’s the pope and he’s peeping.

      Cops coming to a 911 call on another officer would likely cite you for abusing the 911 system, no doubt in my mind.

    • Proud GrandPa

      Sage, you wrote:

      …Then under all circumstances or whatever may be said to you, continue to film and above all else….REMAIN SILENT.

      Had the photog done so, probably nothing would have happened. The whole purpose of this activity is to test the willingness of LEOs to respect civil rights. They passed the test because the photog was allowed to take photos without arrest and the actual arrest was for disorderly conduct by obscenity and disorderly conduct by blocking traffic.
      Let’s argue this matter here and help trial prep both sides.

    • srandallthomas

      “This guy did a good job defending his rights, but I feel he participated
      in too much conversation and back and forth banter with the officer.”

      I agree with that statement. To be honest I was intimidated by the cop. I know what they are capable of. I really expected him to walk away when he didn’t take action when I first walked away.

      Overall, I think it was better that I talked instead of getting into a stare-down. I was trying to stand my ground but I will admit that I was scared.

      • steveo

        photographers and others here who have never actually been in this situation have no idea what the reality is like when you are confronted by the leos. All the great stuff you have stored up to perform a verbal chessmatch with the cop is suddenly blacked out. You expect the cop to act or say certain things but then they don’t or you are temporarily stumped as to what to say next, so later it appears on film like you don’t know what you are doing, and of course, the gallery always has the arm chair quarterbacking as to how they would do it.

        What amazes me is that when confronted by these people, stuff happens so fast or at least appears to happen so fast that only the very, very nimble of minds can handle the situation.

        • stk33

          Simple recipe: when in doubt about the situation, be silent. If he says something you are not prepared for, be silent. “No comment”. “sorry, I’m not ready to answer this”.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            Based on Salinas, you need to affirmatively inform the officer that you don’t wish to speak to him, that you are not going to incriminate yourself, and that you want a lawyer.

          • steveo

            I just posted a thread on the statutes forum on Salinas. I read your blog. I’m distressed, but have mixed feelings about this ruling. I think the Justices are saying Don’t talk to leos at all. This is tough on our society.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            I’ve recommended not talking to officers for quite a while.

            I hate it, but it is really the best option.

          • Difdi

            Given the…novel…view of rights in Salinas, I’m wondering what other rights we have to affirmatively claim in order to have them. The idea that your silence can be held against you PRIOR to a Miranda warning informing you that you can claim the right to remain silent is absurd at best.

            Do they have to give us lawyers or trials by jury if we don’t ask for them? Do we need to say the words “fourth amendment” to stop a police officer from searching our homes whenever he feels like it without a warrant? If a town doesn’t like a church, temple or mosque, can they only be stopped from padlocking the doors if one of the members of the religion says the words “first amendment” to them?

            The constitution doesn’t grant anyone any rights, it protects them by forbidding the government to do certain things. If the government is only forbidden to do those things if a citizen tells them so, what sort of abuses could occur if there are no citizens around to do so?

          • steveo

            Drive up to the inland ckpoint or a dui ckpoint and the they ask you if you are a citizen or have you been drinking?

            Sorry, officer, based on Salinas vs. Texas, I need to have a lawyer present to answer your questions, any question.

          • NC Photog

            I’d always ask for a lawyer. There might actualy be a law requiring cops to allow time for one to show up. Under implied consent laws in NC if you get pulled over you have 30 minutes to call a witness and/or lawyer before any chemical test can be performed.

            I don’t drink and drive but I can’t imagine cops telling DUI suspects they have 30 extra minutes to sober up before they have to take a breathalyzer

          • rick

            Almost every videographer in every story on PINAC should know Salinas. Those that invoke their right to silence keep talking for some reason.
            I disagree with some readings of the decision that you must invoke your 5th amendment right immediately, not that it hurts (if you follow through). Silence by itself won’t get you in trouble, but sudden silence after a period of voluntary conversation with police may reflect poorly on you in court.

          • the sage

            …this is helpful.

        • the sage

          I have dealt with leos plenty of times and know exactly what my rights are and what my script for verbal dialogue will be for various situations.
          And I merely never deviate from that under any circumstances.

          It doesn’t take act of great willpower to assert your rights and nothing more.

          Telling an officer that he is wasting tax payer money or is incompetent if he believes I am a terrorist are huge deviations from my script. And these type of comments do nothing to assert your rights, but only will, at best, work against you.

          It isn’t that difficult.

          • Voice-Of-Concern

            Instead saying you have a script, it would be helpful, if you included your script.

          • the sage

            I did include it. It is contained within quotation marks…
            …which are these things…” “.

          • steveo

            give us some links to your videos

          • the sage

            I don’t have videos of my personal incidences and experiences to share. But included the major points and advice from my experiences in my post.

          • Alex Smith

            So do you write Scripts to force a
            dismissal of any possible Arrests? That’s is prior to engaging with
            the LEO? Does this work?

          • the sage

            I am not clear on exactly what you mean by write scripts to force a dismissal of any possible arrests prior to engaging with the LEO.

            Could you elaborate?

        • srandallthomas

          Things can go bad real quick. I’ve been there more than once.

        • bj

          I can appreciate that – cops can be very intimidating and don’t they know it?! They ‘contact’ for a living and after hours, weeks and years of it, they get pretty good at it. Contact leads to discussion. leads to argument, leads to arrest. Isn’t the lesson therefore to say less, at least as a default position. Saying less is disarming to many people. It’s less predictable and provides no oxygen to the fire, so to speak.

    • srandallthomas

      “Stop standing close to me, pacing in front of me and attempting to
      purposefully obstruct my view preventing me from lawfully photographing
      or filming as that is harassment.”


      Thanks. I like that.

  • Kriegar

    Somebody better step on these cops with emotional issues quick. This stuff can get a lot uglier before it’s through.

  • juan santana

    see now this guy is great

  • jk225

    I believe that following a person around is called stalking. Also, I think verbally abusing someone is called assault. The cop is wrong about what is legal.

    • Proud GrandPa

      Obscenity is not protected free speech. One of the arrest charges was disorderly conduct by obscenity. Photography never figured in the arrests.
      Not sure if obscenity is assault in NY.
      If the photographer wants to get arrested for photography, he should not commit other violations. The state’s attorney will show the video to prove that the arrest was not about photos. How long was he allowed to photo? How many LEOs saw his photographing and allowed him to continue? The answers are the proof that will prevail over a civil rights lawsuit.

      • Elliott Whitlow

        Obscenity is pretty hard to make stick in most cases, its damn near impossible in this case. Obscenity is not generally protected speech or actions. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together could see there was no obscenity. Foul language is protected speech, flipping a cop off is protected speech. So looks like NYPD is gonna have to pay, again..

        • Proud GrandPa

          Foul language is protected, but obscenity is not. If the LEO can offer evidence that he believed the speech to be obscene, the he cannot be sued for a civil rights violation. This is true even if the obscenity charge does not result in a conviction.
          Recall that the audio of the tape is muffled just before the arrest. The cop will say he heard obscenities.
          The defendant should not try to claim his speech merely sounded like an obscenity. He should keep silent and make the DA prove that the LEO understood correctly. Defendants get into trouble by talking to police as in this event.

          • steveo

            Dude, are you seriously not a troll? What the Fxxk is the difference between foul language and obscenity? If you watch Full Metal Jacket, Lee Ermey goes off with expletive after expletive but only get’s into the obscenity when he questions a recruit about the Virgin Mary? Is that the difference? What is your definition of “obscenity”. Please enlighten us?

          • Difdi

            Obscenity is in the statute, not the ear of the listener. If all that was required to trigger an obscenity charge was the listener being offended, then all of these words would count, to someone:

            Abortion, Pro-Life, Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Liberal, Gun, Book, Right, Constitution, the list goes on endlessly.

            No one ever needed a heavily protected right to say exactly what people like to hear. The constitution protects the right to offend people.

      • srandallthomas

        My question would be: Where is there obscenity from me in the video.

        Additionally, the charge requires that there be civilians present who can hear the obscene language if there was any, which there wasn’t. At least not from me.

        • Hesienberg

          I think in the Police Officer’s mind standing up for your rights is obscene to them. This whole scenario reminds of nyc resistance video where the cops pull him over and when he stood up for his rights he got an summons for disorderly conduct. Obscenity charge in NYC, is this guy smoking crack, even he knows it would not stick.

        • steveo

          I didn’t hear any obscenity, not that obscenity could be defined and is in the eye of the beholder, but I didn’t hear anything other than what we would say in Sunday school, where is the alleged obscenity? at what time.?

      • srandallthomas

        Many officers in uniform witnessed my photography and said nothing. A supervisor came to investigate. Observed the scene and my actions, and ordered nothing.

        This was the personal actions of Officer Soto. In fact, the cop who name is on the summons struck out the words “personally observed” and replaced them with the words “was informed” even though he was the only officer who witnessed virtually everything.

        Why? Because he did not want to lie and say I commit those offenses when he knew that I did not.

        It was Soto’s arrest but another officer is on record of making the arrest.

      • steveo

        Disorderly conduct is usually simple either fighting or fighting words. He didn’t do that. Obscenity? Seriously? Larry Flynt called the supreme court justices eight axxholes and a token cxxt and won his case 9-0. Blocking traffic? didn’t see any traffic either. And are you going to put a guy in handcuffs for a traffic citation? This guy was arrested because he wouldn’t put down the camera.

        • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

          Disorderly conduct depends on the state. In NY it is

          1. Fighting or violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior; or
          2. Unreasonable noise; or
          3. Abusive or obscene language, or making an obscene gesture in a public place; or
          4. Disturbing any lawful assembly or meeting of persons; or
          5. Obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or
          6. Congregating with other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse; or
          7. Creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.

          N.Y. Penal Law § 240.20 (McKinney)

          He was cited for 3 & 5, both of which are BS. He used obscene language, but a police officer’s peace cannot be breached. There was no traffic being blocked.

          • Proud GrandPa

            Why cannot a police officer’s peace be breached? Thanks.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            See Lewis v. City of New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130 (1974); Lucas v. Arkansas, 416 U.S. 919.

            On Lewis, pay attention to Powell’s concurrence.

          • Proud GrandPa

            Lewis cited above does not set aside laws against obscenity, but only vague laws against obscenity. A banned word list and presumably a forbidden gesture or display list would make such laws safe from review. Is that the import?


            I don’t have Powell’s words, only a summary. Is Powell’s comment only a concurring opinion or part of the official court opinion? Not sure how much weight it carries if he said a police officer’s could not suffer breach of peace. Or did he mean that the law was not specific enough to define a breach of the officer’s peace without listing certain banned words?


            Thanks for the stimulating discussion. I genuinely care about public courteous behavior and how to balance with free expression.

          • bj

            That list reads like a manifesto for a totalitarian government! It’s broad, vague and open to (mis)interpretation. Not to mention unconstitutional, in parts anyway.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            It’s fairly typical for a D.C. statute, for example Texas has this:

            (1) uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;

            (2) makes an offensive gesture or display in a public place, and the gesture or display tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;

            (3) creates, by chemical means, a noxious and unreasonable odor in a public place;

            (4) abuses or threatens a person in a public place in an obviously offensive manner;

            (5) makes unreasonable noise in a public place other than a sport shooting range, as defined by Section 250.001, Local Government Code, or in or near a private residence that he has no right to occupy;

            (6) fights with another in a public place;

            (7) discharges a firearm in a public place other than a public road or a sport shooting range, as defined by Section 250.001, Local Government Code;

            (8) displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm;

            (9) discharges a firearm on or across a public road;

            (10) exposes his anus or genitals in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act; or

            (11) for a lewd or unlawful purpose:

            (A) enters on the property of another and looks into a dwelling on the property through any window or other opening in the dwelling;

            (B) while on the premises of a hotel or comparable establishment, looks into a guest room not the person’s own through a window or other opening in the room; or

            (C) while on the premises of a public place, looks into an area such as a restroom or shower stall or changing or dressing room that is designed to provide privacy to a person using the area.

            Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 42.01.

          • Difdi

            #3 was effectively struck down by several different SCOTUS decisions. #5 doesn’t apply unless there is traffic to obstruct — if one guy standing by himself on a sidewalk obstructs traffic then every time you step outside of your house you are guilty of obstructing traffic.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            All SCOTUS did is limit the application of #3 to when it tends to create an immediate breach of the peace. It is still a good charge under those conditions.

  • Uncle_Scrappy

    Kinda interesting to me on how most of the area’s that have this Heavy Police Action against citizen rights are heavy leaning democrat areas of the country. I guess that is part of the democrat party philosphy. We know what is best for everyone & you just need to shut up & do as we tell you.

    Yes, I am a republican & a person whoi forms my own opinion. And that is Cops that violate peoples rights & constitutional freedoms like this, should be Jailed, stripped of their ability to work in law enforcement for the rest of their lives.

    All police need to realize that they are NOT Nazi Stormtroopers as they like to play at.

    • Mark Olish

      I think you’re simply a hyper partisan troll. Texas and Florida are hardly bastions of Democratic Party support yet those states are featured here more than any other states, Florida in particular. I could just as easily make a case that conservative republican police are harassing people across the country in democratic leaning areas.If you want to discuss partisan politics, I suggest you take such tripe to yahoo comments. They inject partisan politics into everything, you should feel right at home there.

      • Proud GrandPa

        I also am a Republican and not a troll. I have observed that what Uncle wrote about Demcrats and Liberal types is true. They are the ones who censor opposing viewpoints. This is true in the military, in public education, and in the public arena of ideas. Even the liberal media tried to censor news, but we have the internet now and independent news sources.

        • Mark Olish

          In my experience quite the opposite is true, GrandPa . Whose administration came up with the Patriot Act ,required loyalty pledge cards as admittance for campaign functions, ect, ect ? Why is it that I was instantly banned from Redstate, Little Green Footballs, Fox nation,The Daily Caller and many others simply for having an opposing viewpoint without even the courtesy of civil debate ? I’m a implacable defender of the 2nd Amendment yet I’ve never been banned by any left wing site, not even Firedog Lake or Ameriblog. and I doubt you could get further left than that. I’ll get called everything but a child of god ,but the moderators of the sites have never seen fit to ban me offhand and instantly for an opposing view. So much for the tolerance myth.

          As one proud grandpa to another ,the only thing as bad as a demoncrap is a republic*nt . They are opposite sides of the same sleazy corporate coin and I have no use for either, both have used the Constitution like a roll of Charmin. The Constitution should have no sides, left or right and I oppose any that would try to shred it, Guess what though, the founding fathers that wrote it were all liberals .

          • Proud GrandPa

            Well I agree with you that the Constitution protects us all. And congrats upon raising fine grandchildren.
            I have no experience with the websites you mentioned. Sorry, but I do have experience with schools, gov’t, and the media. Let us just agree to work for free speech.

          • Farid Rushdi

            Good response, Proud. Free speech should be apolitical, but all too often a politics-driven person thinks that free speech is only for them, that the other side’s speech is somehow less precious because they disagree with it.

            The speech I support the loudest is the speech I disagree with the most. The fact that over the decades I have changed my opinion on many topics tells me that both sides have viewpoints that hold value.

          • rightytighty

            Hey Mark Olish, could you possibly not write stuff like “republic*nt”? That’s offensive to women. Thanks for your consideration.

        • steveo

          Not a troll. means a troll

      • Farid Rushdi

        I think that generally, it’s the liberal states that have police officers who go after your rights. Illinois, Oregon, Washington, California and Mass. are the states you find on youtube showing their police in disgraceful situations.

        You are right about Florida and Texas, but I think it’s that way for a different reason. Forty years ago, both were redneck, good-old-boy states with small police forces with supreme authority. I think their actions today are historical, not political. I lived in both states in the 70’s and man, when you saw a sheriff walking down the street you crossed over to the other side as quick as you can.

        Not sure why you got a little testy regarding the politics of all of this. Partisan politics is what leads to problems like these.

        I am a reporter for a newspaper in Idaho and have already contacted Carlos about a story I’m writing regarding photography and 1st Amendment, and politics will be part of it. I’d like to talk to you if you’re willing. Your views may bring a perspective I personally don’t understand but would like to include. Let me know.

        • asdasda

          “Forty years ago, both were redneck, good-old-boy states with small police forces with supreme authority. I think their actions today are historical, not political”

          Makes sense, but having lived in the deep south and Massachusetts, there are way more good ol boy nepotism and corruption in the North East currently. I expected to leave that behind when I moved north, but found it to be far more prevalent and even accepted.

    • JdL

      First of all, the words “democrat” and “republican” have different meanings when they’re capitalized than when they’re not; from context, it’s clear that you mean “Democrat” and “Republican” (members of respective political parties). To be fair, you did capitalize, just not the right words; thus “Cops” and “Jailed” each get gratuitous upper case.

      I agree with Mark Olish that any attempt to demonize one major political party vs. the other is pure nonsense. Cops have become murderous criminal thugs all over America, without regard to party affiliation.

    • Farid Rushdi

      I agree with the political perspective.

      Growing up in the 60’s, it was the conservatives who used these tactics on the young liberals on college campuses and as part of “un-American” organizations. Now they have grown up, they are in charge, and are using those very tactics against the conservatives.

      they have become that which they hated.

    • Farid Rushdi

      I think you’re right.

      I’ve lived in D.C., Detroit, St. Louis, Seattle and New Orleans — those cities had heavy handed police forces that used the law against law-abiding citizens.

      I’ve also lived in Salt Lake City, Boise and Palm Beach, and those forces were reserved and got involved with its citizens only when necessary.

      I think a police force generally reflects the morals and values of the community they serve. Liberals get one kind of police force, conservatives get another.

  • JdL

    Cops: the biggest criminal gang in America. This bozo is lucky that Thomas didn’t take truly appropriate action against him. He deserves at least to be tasered or have his eyes shot full of pepper spray. I hope that Thomas sues the S*** out of him; maybe some day, when “justice” in America is something more than a sick joke, settlements will come out of the pockets of individual criminal cops rather than the taxpayers.

    • Farid Rushdi

      Until a citizen can sue the officer personally, these suits are paid and quickly forgotten. But if we can sue the cop, take everything he has in savings along with his car, it will never stop.

      Deep down, I think the city leaders like their citizens being afraid of the police. To them, it does far more good than harm to the community (from their perspective).

      • stk33

        I don’t think suing personally is appropriate. The cop is not doing it in his personal time, he is on the job.

        What should be happening however, is that whenever the court rules in favor of the citizen against the police, or even when it’s settled with payoff to the citizen, there must be statute mandating administrative consequences for the involved police officials. Such as, if the incident was investigated by the police and found justified, but then the court rules they were not, the investigators should be written up, lose bonus pay, and have a point on their record. Several points = fired. Such a system would create the very responsibility that is currently missing.

        • Difdi

          If a cop is sued for actions in the line of duty, the department (and by extension, the taxpayers) paying is appropriate.

          But if a cop acts outside of the line of duty, in violation of orders, department regulations, consent decrees, statutory law and his own oath, that’s all him, not the department.

          Having to break your service oath to conduct business as usual is a damn big hint that you’ve been given illegal orders, after all.

        • ml b

          people use to be able to sue cops personally but it was changed. If a person on the job hurts, or wrongs you, you can sue the business and the employee. but if the employee has no money you will have to come out of pocket the lawyer will only sue the business for free if it has money.

        • wallyw

          What? You are on crack. When the officer violates department policy, he is on his own. If he’s doing his job, he should be protected under his employer.

      • Michael Vain

        Sue the department for the amount the cop would make during his entire career, including benefits, pension, etc. At that point, it becomes more expensive to keep the bad cops than to fire them.

        • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

          LOL, those damages aren’t allowed. It’s not based on what the officer makes, it is based on what losses the plaintiff suffers.

          • srandallthomas

            When lawyers start chasing huge amounts in punitive damages for wanton behaviors, then something may give.

            The Supreme Court has established the rules. Punitive damages are permissible absent actual damage where there’s a Constitutional Violation. And where the acts are malicious, punitive damages can be what would otherwise be considered excessive.

            When lawyers, or pro se plaintiffs, start to make the City’s pay, you’ll see something give.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

            Punitive damages are not available against a municipality under 1983. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159 (1985).

          • srandallthomas