Home / Pennsylvania Cop Confiscates iPad from Woman (Updated)

Pennsylvania Cop Confiscates iPad from Woman (Updated)

 

A Pennsylvania cop who won a national award earlier this year for saving a teen from drowning confiscated a woman’s iPad for apparently trying to record a public meeting.

Details are scarce at this time, showing the importance of putting as much information in the Youtube description as you can, not to mention the importance of holding your phone horizontally when recording, both which were not done in this video that was uploaded earlier to Youtube earlier today.

However, a little research shows the incident too place in Pulaski Township outside a municipal building with a cop named Randall Courson.

The woman indicates that the iPad was seized while she was recording a public meeting.

In April, Courson was named Officer of the Month by the  National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, according to Police Mag.

Police Mag indicates Courson is just one of two officers serving the township.

I’ve sent a message through Youtube asking for more details but most of the time, those never get answered.

Pukaski

Photo courtesy of Pulaski Township (Pa.) Police Department (via Police Mag)

UPDATE: The following was posted by Suzanne Matteo on the Pulaski Township’s Facebook page:

On that confiscated iPad was files on two supervisors and their conflicts of interest in dealings with the township in regards to their roles as supervisors. They knew this. I had been to meetings in the past and they saw me taking notes on that same iPad. I had collected information directly from Lori Sniezek on it while she was township secretary. They knew I was concerned and keeping an eye on certain issues in the township. Now, they have access to all that information as well as texts and emails regarding these issues as well as personal ones. They have already been into my email account last evening. It makes sense why they confiscated my iPad. They were in it. My rights were indeed violated and I thank everyone who backed me up last night. Video recordings at township hearings are NOT illegal and they made no announcement of any stipulations at the beginning of this one. I was willing to shut it off peacefully when approached but instead it was confiscated from me in front of a room full of people and a young man that recited the sunshine law was threatened with arrest, thrown out and cited. Now if that isn’t disturbing enough………… I told officer Courson that there were personal images of me breastfeeding my daughter on that iPad and I pleaded to get it back from him. He told “it’s my iPad now. You ain’t getting it back”. I have many witnesses that. When a women I never met before who saw i was visibly upset came to my defense and asked Courson to give it to her because of the images personal in nature he told her that he “just might have to have a look at them”. Now I just joined this page a minute ago and now I will be leaving after this post. I just want to live peacefully where I am at and not fight with anyone and hear anyone who is in cahoots with the supervisors childish opinions or attacks. I said my piece because I wanted you all to know the whole truth and that this just might happen to you too.

 

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.
  • JustaVetSailorfromPennsylvania

    Award or no award, does not really matter, what does it have to do with anything about this video? Answer – Absolutely nothing. The 1st amendment rights of all American is more important that any award that any roly poly Badged Uniformed Fascist Thug could have receIved. Too many good men have had their lives taken defending our Civil RIGHTS for this to be taken lightly.

    • Carlos_Miller

      Well, for one thing, the story on the award helped me identify him.

      • JDS

        Thanks as always, Carlos.

      • JustaVetSailorfromPennsylvania

        Understand, just get angry when I see these award Badged Unformed Fascist Thugs BUFT trying to pull this type of civil right’s violation off. This is 2nd time one of these awarded BUFT’s did such a thing, the other one was up in NY.

        • Carlos_Miller

          The award also adds an irony element to the story, which I always enjoy.

          • JustaVetSailorfromPennsylvania

            Agreed, did read the award he received for saving a young man who lost control of his car which ended up in freezing creek in December 2012, for that yes a well done. But the LEO is experienced, having retired from the Howard County, MD PD and then returning to his childhood home to become a Township cop. But one good thing does not make up for wrong.

            What is going on with the case in NY?

          • Kriegar

            Yes, please?

          • JustaVetSailorfromPennsylvania

            Please to what?

    • theaton

      It shows that awards don’t mean a darn thing and are given out to make people or institutions look better than they really are.

      • Difdi

        Police have been given awards for valor for shooting at innocent people before. Awards are almost a mark of dishonor in some departments.

    • KristenKealapono

      I can’t speak for the writer of the story, but I think it’s important to mention the award because there are so many people out there who talk about all the good cops and the good things that they do.
      These people need to realize that even cops that receive awards and accolades engage in thuggish behavior on and off the job.

      • JustaVetSailorfromPennsylvania

        Believe that it was Carlos that wrote the story, I pointed out that I didn’t care about the award only to have Carlos correctly point out to me that slant of the story, I am business writer and not a journalist. You are most correct.

  • Larry New

    Why don’t these idiots get fired?

    • theaton

      Because, in general, we refuse to do our duty.

  • Jbroyles

    According to the Digital Media Law Project:

    Recording devices are allowed in public meetings (i.e., meetings of a governmental body required to be open to the public by law) in Pennsylvania. Governmental bodies may adopt their own rules to maintain order at their meetings, but those rules may not include flat prohibitions on recording.

    http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-recording-law

  • carrie

    People really interested in video recording incognito should wear a modified Go Pro

  • Proud GrandPa

    Thanks for the update, Carlos. So the back story is two of the supervisors were the subject of this woman’s investigation and they wanted to steal her research. Preventing such corruption is exactly the reason our founding fathers gave us the first amendment.
    .
    Was the LEO acting in good faith but with ignorance of the law? Or was he in cahoots with the supervisors? Is he corrupt too?
    .
    A good name is to be chosen above great riches.

    • Difdi

      It’s hard to imagine how he could be ignorant of the 1st, 4th and 5th amendments, given how he swore an oath to defend them and the rest of the constitution. If he was acting in good faith then he lacks the education and training that are prerequisites to be hired for the job he holds.

    • JdL

      Was the LEO acting in good faith but with ignorance of the law?

      I’m getting mighty sick of that kind of excuse being offered. Cops are paid to know and enforce the law, NOT to be ignorant of it. They freely arrest people who have allegedly committed crimes, and for them, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” How can it possibly be an excuse for cops, then?

      This cop is a criminal, plain and simple, and should be treated as one.

    • Kriegar

      Interesting, your stance here, and the difference in your stance regarding Wisconsin. Puzzling indeed, but interesting.

  • IceTrey

    Password protect your electronics you stupid bitch!

  • Difdi

    Presumably he was armed while in uniform and on duty. The statement that it’s his iPad now makes it quite clear he has no intention of returning it. Seems to be a pretty clear case of armed robbery to me.

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

      But of course it is not armed robbery.

      • http://www.noneedforastinkingwebsite.com/ dow daytrader

        having a gun strapped to your donut filled belly while stealing property is the same as “using a gun” right, lol …under color of law would be a better indictment

        http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/color_of_law

        • Difdi

          Depends on the state. Not all states require that a gun be drawn or fired for a robbery to get the armed enhancement. Simple possession of a weapon, even if the victim is never aware the criminal has it is sufficient in many states.

      • Difdi

        How do you figure that? The officer stated his intent to keep it — not turn it into the department, not seize it as evidence, not temporarily confiscate it until after the meeting. He seized it unlawfully out of the owner’s hands while armed, then stated his intent aloud.

        He told the owner that it was his iPad now.

  • Superman05

    Officer Courson is a very good officer. What the video shows and how he is, is a totally different story. Things got heated really quick and he said things I’m sure he didn’t mean. I mean, if you had 8 people yelling at you, you would get miffed too. With that being said, with everything going on in that township, I think the supervisors put this officer in a position that wasn’t right. There has been a lot of grief with the supervisors in that community an now that the focus has been shifted to the officer, I will bet anyone $100 that the supervisors won’t release a statement showing full support for that officer. They will quietly slink away while the focus is shifted.

    • io-io

      The question of chain of possession then becomes very important. He seized the iPad, so did he review the contents and go out to the email account, or did he turn it over to the Supervisors? If it was seized as evidence (of what crime), then it should have been maintained as evidence. Otherwise, it was clear and plain theft – armed robbery, color of law. Was there a warrant – I am guessing probably not. So, where is the iPad currently. The suggestion to get a ruling from a Judge to return the iPad is probably one of the best suggestions here. The other is to preserve any information that the email account was accessed.

      Also, the theft was just not the device, but everything on it – the pictures and notes, etc. Original content.

    • JdL

      Officer Courson is a very good officer.

      No he’s not. He’s a criminal thug with a badge and a gun, who needs to be stopped from committing further depredations upon the community.

    • MongoLikesCandy

      Im sure he is a perfect officer every other day on the job. I bet he loves puppies and orphans too. But what he did that day was a break a shitload of laws, shame his badge and piss on the constitution. What he did, should never ever happen in this country. But I’m sure he lifted a bus off some nuns later that day, so reason to get riled up

    • Kriegar

      I am sorry to have to point out to you that an officer who is actively violating criminal and civil law is not, by definition of those actions, “a very good officer”. Quite the contrary, in fact.

  • http://www.noneedforastinkingwebsite.com/ dow daytrader

    get a good lawyer….be prepared to get a nice check from The City.

  • $58984987

    A small town with very little police presence can be a very precarious and dangerous place.

    A disturbance call is made from a secluded area late at night.
    Officer drives out to investigate.
    Shots ring out.
    Officer down.
    The world is a better place.

  • Fdfd Asaa

    make that officer’s life a living hell

  • Kriegar

    In your e-mail? And that is not criminal trespass, or worse? I clearly see 4th Amendment violations here. What in hells is wrong with these police agencies these days?

  • Kriegar

    For your remarks regarding videography and details Carlos, I must mention that proofreading and editing can be equally important.

    “…shows the incident too place in Pulaski Township…” :)

  • Stask

    Another donut monkey overstepping his authority……big surprise.

  • Kyle

    I was a working journalist for 20 years. The ONLY place I was not allowed to record or take photos was in the courtroom — where the judge decreed the third floor off limits to photography. I understand that rule, as it protects witnesses.
    There has got to be more to this story. The sad part is that this idiot has violated her rights, as elected officials taking part in a public meeting have no right to privacy… after all, they are elected officials who answer to the people. In fact, I bet the township may be keeping a recording to meeting minutes purposes.
    Sigh.

  • steveo

    Iacobucci vs. Butler 193 F.3d 14 (1999) Mr. Iacobucci cost the township about 200 grand in damages including legal fees for stopping him from recording a town meeting.

    Get a bid from the County sheriff to take over the LE duties and disband the local PD or have a vote to dis-incorporate.

  • Proud GrandPa

    Yes, Kyle, your understanding of the open meetings law is correct. People of faith and conservative economics used this to blow the whistle on Hillary Clinton when she held secret meetings to socialize healthcare. We shut her down when we got the secret documents after a lawsuit.
    .
    In other cases we won against private deals to block access to public parks for Easter worship services. We forced the park board meetings to be open to all, and they tried to deny us access, but backed down. We had them on camera.
    .
    Similar events are examples of the merit of the open meeting law. I also wonder what this case is really about. It would be helpful to have more information.
    ..

  • Tony Long

    Donut Monkey!!!! That is a good one!!!

  • Proud GrandPa

    Playing lawyer and script writer here one can imagine a scenario in which the woman had previously been ordered out of the building by a judge after due process. The reasons judges sometimes do so if when the person prevents the meeting from occurring by yelling or attacking or threatening. The pro-public union mob tried that in Wisconsin, and the police finally booted them out after a few weeks.
    .
    There is no evidence that the same thing happened here with this lady. Just thinking of a scenario in which the actions of the police officer would be lawful…

  • Joseph Murray

    Didn’t seem to work with Cheney and his secret energy meetings, as I recall.

  • steveo

    The IPad is protected by the 4th Amendment and well as the first Amendment. Two important cases which concerned pornography, but explained the absolute requirement that the warrant requirement for searching the device be done with “scrupluous exactitude”. Maryland v. Macon, 472 U.S. 46, 468 (1985).and Walter v. United States, 447 U.S. 649.655 (1980). If they didn’t follow the warrant requirements for searching the IPAD, that’s worth a whole lot of damages.

    Also, I’d be waiting at whatever judges’ office handles emergency motions in the morning. To make a written motion to have your property returned. You also want to get as much local and state media to pick up the story.

  • JaiGuru

    All completely null and void considering this government no longer even pretends to obey the constitution. So…have fun quoting from a dead document and all.

  • Kriegar

    Much less accessing her e-mail.

  • nrgins

    Wow, this is pretty sick. I hope she contacts the ACLU or something and files a suit. His comments alone are worthy of a lawsuit.

    Carlos – I don’t know if you sent her a private message or left a comment under the video. Sometimes comments are seen more often than private messages, IMO.

  • Kyle

    This was not a courthouse. It was a township hall. A judge would have no power there to have recording stopped, as it is not his domain.

    There is NO reason for the person to have her iPad taken. I think she is going to have to get a lawyer to get it back, as the police officer is on the side of the township officers.

    HOWEVER, despite open meeting laws, few have any real teeth. In Minnesota, there is simply a $50 fine.

  • Proud GrandPa

    A court order applies anywhere US law applies. That is how courts have ordered the desegregation of public schools or the opening of public malls and airports to religious evangelism.

    .

    If the woman had caused terroristic threats or yelled repeatedly at council meetings, then the council could ask a court for relief. That was the scenario to which I referred. Sorry if I failed to explain that this was the possibility I had in mind.
    .

    There is no evidence that woman was subject to such an order. See Carlos’ update. It appears that two supervisors feared her investigative reporting. No court should provide them secrecy from investigation. That is reassuring.
    .

    Lastly the real teeth of the open meeting law is not $50 fines. The power is a court order to keep the meeting open. After the plaintiff wins a court order, then future violations become contempt of court, with both hefty fines and prison sentences. That is power and we the people have used it well many times. Expect she will win. Expect some supervisors to look for new employment… say, making license plates.

  • Dieselducy

    we need the number of the department so we can ALL call and tell him to give it back.

  • Michael Blitch

    http://www.wfmj.com/story/22749319/pulaski-twp-resident-raises-ethics-questions-during-township-hearing-on-new-drilling-permits

    Some updated info and details leading up to the armed theft of the iPad by the cop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Allen/1775443285 Michael Allen

    IT doesn’t matter what is legal or not anymore when it comes to law enforcement and that includes the Obama admin. Your bill of rights are suspended once you enter an airport property, you are subject to immediate search and seizure without reason. These kinds of abuse are happening all over the country and most people just lay down and take it! The thing is that she may eventually prevail legally to get her Ipad back but it will probably be completely erased and all the information she was building will have been exposed. No doubt this womans first and probably fourth amendment rights were violated but nobody will be held accountable.

  • Kriegar

    Wow. What a CROCK!

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