A San Diego cop shot a man Saturday in an incident reportedly captured on camera by a witness.
However, police are now in possession of the video and it’s not exactly clear from the story if they confiscated it or if the witness voluntarily handed it over.
Odds are, judging on countless other similar incidents over the last few years, he was pressured into handing it over.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Witness Joey Ortega said he and a friend, who are visiting from Sacramento, were getting out of their car when they saw the officer approach the man, gun drawn.
Ortega described the man as possibly a transient in his early 30s. He said the man was pacing back and forth, about 15 to 20 feet from the officer.
“The guy said, ‘I’m not going to drop it,’” Ortega, 26, recalled.
“He looked agitated, like twitching,” he added.
Yono said the man raised the scissors and started to throw them, and that’s when the officer fired.
“I couldn’t tell if he was going to throw the weapon down, or at the officer, or what,” Yono said.
Ortega’s friend, Robert Roddick, 23, filmed the shooting on his cellphone. The police will review it for evidence.
A man named Justin Jones who left a comment in the story, claiming he was also a witness, stated the following:
I witnessed the whole thing. The guy way away from the officer was trying to walk in the other direction had DROPPED what he had in his hand and was still shot!
So perhaps now is a good time to remind people that police do not have a legal right to confiscate your camera without a subpoena or a warrant.
The only exception would be under exigent circumstances where the cop has a reasonable suspicion that the witness is going to either destroy the evidence or disappear without leaving cops a method to contact them.
A citizen wishing to be cooperative with the investigation can voluntarily provide police with a copy of the video while insisting on maintaining the original.
And that citizen will have the right to upload the video to Youtube, even if police try to dissuade him from doing so under the old, “jeopardizing the investigation” argument.
The United States Department of Justice confirmed this in a set of guidelines it released last year as to how police are supposed to deal with citizens who record them in public:
Because recording police officers in the public discharge of their duties is protected by the First Amendment, policies should prohibit interference with recording of police activities except in narrowly circumscribed situations. More particularly, policies should instruct officers that, except under limited circumstances, officers must not search or seize a camera or recording device without a warrant. In addition, policies should prohibit more subtle actions that may nonetheless infringe upon individuals’ First Amendment rights. Officers should be advised not to threaten, intimidate, or otherwise discourage an individual from recording police officer enforcement activities or intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices.