Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott Takes to Facebook to Justify Camera Snatching from Citizen - PINAC News
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Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott Takes to Facebook to Justify Camera Snatching from Citizen

Upset at the “lopsided’ news coverage his department has been receiving over last month’s incident in which a deputy snatched a camera from a citizen during a traffic stop, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott took to Facebook Tuesday night in what he described as “setting the record straight.”

But all he did was further reiterate what the initial news report stated: That his deputy was justified in snatching the camera because not only could it have been a gun, but the citizen could have used it to call friends to ambush them.

Besides, he wrote, it’s not like his deputies deleted the video or anything, so why should anybody be upset?

As was explained in the lopsided story on local television, the deputy took the phone from the legally detained subject out of concern for the safety of those present. That stems, not only from potentially disguised weapons or sudden outward resistance of a subject, but to recent shooting events where phone calls to friends and/or family by persons of interest in investigations has resulted in the distraction and interference of lawful process as crowds gathered and tensions raised or disturbances incited. These incidents, while deemed isolated, are naturally a reasonable consideration. It’s also important to recognize the phone was returned to the citizen once safety was no longer an issue and all probable cause suspicions were adequately resolved. The phone, recording and contents were not tampered with, but rightfully returned.

Scott goes on to say that the deputy who violated the citizen’s Constitutional right to record was not your “average Lee County patrol deputy” but a member of the so-called “Field Support Unit,” which he describes as a “team of professional, experienced deputies whose primary function is interdiction, prevention and suppression of criminal activity.” 

This band of deputies, he said, will gather in high-crime neighborhoods and “saturate the designated area with a common goal of rooting out the criminal element and restoring safety, security and peace of mind to residents and businesses,” conducting “multiple traffic stops” to complete their mission.

In other words, they turn certain neighborhoods into mini-police states in order to milk the taxpayers’ dollars and meet their arrest quotas while trampling on the rights of citizens.

That’s exactly what they did last month when they pulled the man over for running a stop sign in the story first reported by WFTX, then followed up by PINAC, then followed up by The Blaze.

Given their specialized training, they were able to deduct the man was trying to hide something from them, so they brought out the “experienced K9” to sniff around the car, who, sure enough, determined there were drugs in the car.

But after a lengthy search of his car in which they had his trunk and hood open as well as his personal items strewn on the sidewalk, they didn’t find a single marijuana seed, which most likely explains why the deputy felt the need to snatch his camera.

After all, it just doesn’t look good on Youtube to search every crease and crevice in a car only to find nothing.

Although the man they pulled over was not arrested, Scott still insists on criminalizing him by saying the man first claimed to work in a grocery store when in actuality, he was a bails bondsman.

But it’s none of their business how he makes a living if he is doing it legally.

The bottom line is, this was an illegal search and may have even been an illegal stop.

And no matter how many times Scott claims that “all members of the Sheriff’s Office swear an oath to stand by the Constitution of the United States and the fundamental rights of the First Amendment,” we can all see he is nothing but a lying blowhard.

Read the sheriff’s full statement below:

“Start the Video” – Setting the Record Straight

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Recent news and social network coverage of a traffic stop involving deputies assigned a specialty unit of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office has garnered public scrutiny, in some cases proliferating inaccurate accounts and perceptions. The Sheriff and this agency continue to recognize the constitutional right of citizens to video law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties in public places, from their homes or private property where they have permission to be. That legal right, however, is NOT unlimited.

Here are just a few examples established by case law for when deputies may find it necessary to restrict video recording:

– Officer or public safety is in jeopardy
– Video is being utilized to violate the law
– Video is being utilized to incite others to violate the law

There is case law also to support the seizure of video recording devices to include:

– A short amount of time to obtain a warrant – while waiting, no search or review of the recording is allowed
– The video holds contraband or evidence of a crime
– Exigent circumstances demand it

As was explained in the lopsided story on local television, the deputy took the phone from the legally detained subject out of concern for the safety of those present. That stems, not only from potentially disguised weapons or sudden outward resistance of a subject, but to recent shooting events where phone calls to friends and/or family by persons of interest in investigations has resulted in the distraction and interference of lawful process as crowds gathered and tensions raised or disturbances incited. These incidents, while deemed isolated, are naturally a reasonable consideration. It’s also important to recognize the phone was returned to the citizen once safety was no longer an issue and all probable cause suspicions were adequately resolved. The phone, recording and contents were not tampered with, but rightfully returned.

The video that was taken clearly reveals the deputy’s uniform is different than the average Lee County patrol deputy. These were members of the Field Support Unit. A team of professional, experienced deputies whose primary function is interdiction, prevention and suppression of criminal activity in the various patrol districts of Lee County. As crime trends or suspicious activity is noted, the unit will saturate the designated area with a common goal of rooting out the criminal element and restoring safety, security and peace of mind to residents and businesses. Much like their highway counterparts, they are likely to come across illegal activity such as credit or tax fraud, drug distribution and wanted criminals.

In a given shift, this team will conduct multiple traffic stops. Their protocol is consistent, professional and expedient. In this case, a clear traffic violation was observed. The stop conducted and contact with the driver initiated. Numerous indicators of potential criminal activity were noted as the routine traffic encounter continued. Those indicators could not be ignored.

The driver’s interaction with deputies, coupled with an experienced K9 alerting to the scent of illegal narcotics, prompted further investigation. A semi-automatic firearm was found, rendered safe and checked against stolen gun records. An extended magazine for the weapon was recovered and a bag full of checks made out to a local bail bondsman. It wasn’t until later the driver would reluctantly admit he didn’t want the deputies to know he worked for a bail bondsman, initially telling deputies he worked at a well-known grocery retailer. At the end of the stop, no drugs could be found; a reasonable explanation could be provided for the presence of all those checks; a concealed weapons permit was verified, the gun was not stolen; and, the man was able to proceed on his way, phone and video in hand.

In conclusion, all members of the Sheriff’s Office swear an oath to stand by the Constitution of the United States and the fundamental rights of the First Amendment. Our policies and procedures consistently reinforce it and we accept accountability in the unlikely event someone would be found to violate it.

Media inquiries are directed to Lieutenant Larry King, Public Information Officer, at (239) 477-1343.

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