Feds Aggressively and Illegally Harass Man over Photography; Seattle Police Does Nothing

One day after an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agent snatched a camera out of a man’s hands and deleted a photo before returning it to him, Phil Mocek returned to the federal building in downtown Seattle with a video camera.

This time, he was aggressively confronted by a Federal Protective Services officer named Housam who kept sticking his cell phone in Mocek’s face in a manner that would have gotten Mocek arrested if had done the same to the cop.

But considering Mocek had called Seattle police on the ATF agent on Wednesday and they didn’t do a thing, Housam obviously believes he can get away with anything.

Now Mocek is really pissed off, which means we should expect him to either file a lawsuit, organize a protest or probably both as anybody who has read this site long enough can attest to.

I’ve reached out to Mocek for comment on the incidents that took place yesterday and today, but he hasn’t responded yet.

However, the Associated Press has already picked up on the initial incident:

Phil Mocek says he was walking to work Wednesday morning when he took a picture of what appeared to be unmarked or personal vehicles parked in a row of spots reserved for law enforcement.

Soon afterward, a white truck pulled up next to him. A man got out, grabbed his camera and started going through the pictures, as an officer from the Federal Protective Service and a private security guard watched.

Mocek called 911, and two Seattle police officers arrived but refused to take a report. Department spokeswoman Renee Witt says that was their judgment.

Mocek says the man who took the camera eventually identified himself as an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He returned the camera, but Mocek says one of the images on it had been deleted.

Here are some numbers to call.

ATF’s Seattle field office: (206) 204-9866

Federal Protective Service national hotline (couldn’t find the regional number): 1-877-4FPS-411 (1-877-437-7411)

Seattle Police Department: (206) 386-1850

FPS Housam

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.

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  • The Marine

    I love how much you people THINK you know. Lets take a step back and look at the situation with the ATF agent, A person that may or may not conduct undercover operation in the Seattle area may not want his pictures circulating on the internet. How is the agent suppose to know what Mr.Mocek’s intentions with the pictures were? who’s to say he wasn’t taking pictures for a third party? Does the agent take the risk or does he just react? Majority of you are so quick to try to out whit someone that you end up missing the logic and you all make me sick. You all are the same people that will cry about the level of security at the airport or in out public areas and then cry even louder when an incident occurs due to a lack of security. LESS COP LESS COP.. BUT YOU BETTER RUN WHEN I CALL. LESS AGGRESSION LESS AGGRESSION but you better protect me when someone attempts to inflict harm on me or my family. It’s all about the public’s level of convenience. After 9/11 EVERYONE wanted to see more security to prevent another attack, but i guess after a few years the public is now bothered by the level of security so it needs to go after all its been a few years the risk is gone.

    You (the public) like to run your mouths until something happens and then sit and point fingers at the same people you asked to relax. Mocek is tampering with the security of the public by using the legal system to attempt to break down the security we have in place. No one cares about MOCEK, but we cant ignore it and treat it as just another self-riotous idiot on the loose.

  • barque

    To your question, j, no it is legal for a cop to pull out a camera and photograph someone. However, it is quite likely harassment if the cop is taking the photos, as these two were, as part of a strategy to chase away a law abiding citizen by intimidation. I imagine it is also against police department policy to act like clowns in this manner. Further, as was pointed out to the cops, every photo they take in carrying out the official duties of their jobs, is public property. I believe the public can ask for copies of those photos, and I also believe the officers can get in trouble for deleting them. There is a lot going on this video!

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