Photographer Shawn Nee, who has had numerous run-ins with Los Angeles authorities over the years, was detained once again.
This time, LAPD officers accused him of interfering with their investigation, even though he was standing on a public sidewalk behind two chain-linked fences, about 90 feet from the cops, as he snapped photos of them investigating a domestic violence incident.
They handcuffed him, placed him in a patrol car, drove him to the police department and handcuffed him again to a bench, before they removed the handcuffs and brought him into an interrogation room.
When he refused to talk, insisting on contacting his attorney, they released him without charges.
But only after having detained him for 90 minutes.
Then they claimed they had never arrested him.
“They said that I was never arrested, that I had only been brought in for questioning,” Nee said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
Reason TV produced the above video on the June incident and wrote this story, quoting an LAPD spokesman who confirmed that we have the right to photograph police investigations:
Reason TV showed the video to Andy Neiman, the officer-in-charge at the Media Relations Section at the LAPD. He said he could not comment on the video specically but said of individuals taking pictures, “If their physical proximity to the investigating officers becomes interfering where an officer has to stop what they’re doing to admonish that individual that they’re too close or could you stand back because they are distracting from the officer’s business, then that’s where it becomes an issue.”
But Nee says he was so far away from the investigation that the officers had to walk down a 60 yard driveway, enter their squad car, and drive to the location where he was taking photographs around the corner from the initial investigation just to detain him.
Besides his film camera, he had three Vievu cameras on him, recording all the interaction, including one on his chest and two clipped on his bag.
He is already suing the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department over its ongoing harassment of him, which goes to trial next year.
And he will most likely sue the LAPD over this matter, although he won’t confirm or deny that.
But he does acknowledge he has a lot more video footage that he has not posted, but will eventually.
“I’ve learned over the years that police will watch the videos and collaborate their stories,” he said.