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NYPD Cop Arrests Man for Photographing Police Station from Public Sidewalk

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.

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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.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.