Home / PINAC News / California Man Arrested after Video Recording Oil Refinery from Public Sidewalk

California Man Arrested after Video Recording Oil Refinery from Public Sidewalk

In the ongoing battle between Daniel Saulmon and Southern California police over the right to record in public, which has resulted in him being arrested so many times he has lost count, El Segundo police arrested his friend last week after they were recording the Chevron oil refinery from a public sidewalk, ripping the camera out of his hand and tearing the battery out, leaving the last video clip he recorded corrupted and unable to be viewed.

Tony Rachall, the man referred to as “Poetic” in the videos, spent two hours in jail before he was released with a citation of  “impeding traffic” – a traffic violation normally reserved for cars driving too slow in a single lane where cars behind are unable to pass, not bicycles using a single lane of a double-lane street, which is what took place as you can see in the video below.

If anybody was impeding traffic, it was the cops, who blocked an entire lane with their cars as they accused the men of doing the same.

But the cops obviously needed an excuse to charge the men considering there is no law against recording the refinery from a public street.

In fact, there are numerous photos of the monstrosity on the internet, not to mention that Chevron claims on its website that it maintains “an open door policy with refinery neighbors.”

But it appears someone from the refinery called police on the three men on bicycles standing outside the plant with cameras on April 15, which is not the first time this has happened.

Saulmon, who runs the site, Mistaken Bacon, obtained the dispatch conversations of police responding to the scene through a site called Broadcastify, which he pays $15 for every six months, including the audio in the above video.

Police arrived and did their usual shakedown of demanding identifications and asking to search their backpacks and insisting on knowing why would they want to record the refinery, but the men knew their rights and did not consent to searches or volunteer anymore information than they were legally required.

So the cops drove off, telling the men they were free to be on their way.

However, the cops continued monitoring the men from a distance, watching as they started riding their bicycles down the street before pulling them over again for impeding traffic.

According to this bicycle advocacy sitea minimum of five cars must be driving behind the slow-moving vehicle, unable to pass, for this citation to be valid.

However, unless they can get the citation dismissed, they will be required to pay a $236 fine.

As they were harassing the men for impeding traffic, the cops demanded identifications, but they did not have any on them as there is no law in California requiring one to possess a drivers license to operate a bicycle.

But the men did not hesitate to identify themselves verbally, which is why Saulmon and his friend, Ricky Munday, were cited, but not arrested.

Rachall also identified himself, but at one point, the cop tried to grab his camera and Rachall pulled it away. The cop then ordered him to sit on the curb, which he did while still recording.

Eventually, they ordered him to place his hands behind his back, which was when they snatched his camera and removed the battery.

El Segundo Chief Mitch Tavera

El Segundo Police Chief Mitch Tavera

He was released two hours later with his camera, but when he tried to search for the last file he had recorded, he was unable to access it, so they initially thought it had been deleted.

But he later realized the clip is still in the camera, but it most likely became corrupted when the cop pulled the battery out as it was recording.

Now he is trying to figure out how to repair the file. The camera is a Samsung HD  S10, so if anybody has any suggestions, please post them below.

Call El Segundo Police Chief Mitch Tavera at 310-524-2280 or email him mtavera@elsegundo.org Or leave a comment on their Facebook page.

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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.