Back in August, a group of friends in Caldwell Idaho were detained by local law enforcement after being asked to leave a local skate park for being there after hours. The park closes at 11 p.m. The police report says the officer arrived at 11:12.
The situation escalated when one of the detainees began recording the exchange. Although the phone is pointed towards the ground, the audio from the clip gives a pretty clear depiction of the scene.
According to ABC6:
“I need you to put that cell phone down right now because you are detained. Give me the cell phone. Give me the cell phone,” the officer said.
“It is within my legal rights,” replied one of the men.
”No you’re not. You don’t have any legal rights now because right now you just broke the law,” the officer replies.
Since when do citizens lose their rights? You would think those rights would be especially important during moments of police interaction.
“I’m still blown away at how this accelerated from five guys riding their bikes at the park. They searched everybody.,” said Joe Dondero, one of the bikers on the scene. “They didn’t find any drugs or alcohol. We were just riding our bikes at the park like we have done several times.”
Since the release of the video, the Caldwell Police Department has begun an internal investigation on the events of the evening. Dondero, who along with another friend was ticketed for trespassing, Dondero was also charged with resisting and obstructing and is fighting the charges in court.
The clip released from that evening is just over two minutes. Dondero’s lawyer is holding onto the full 20-minute video. This is a strategic move that keeps police from basing their report on the video, which might force them to contradict themselves in court.
If only more citizens were as aware and willing to exercise their rights as this group of individuals, perhaps officers would think twice before abusing their power.
Christian Medina Beltz is a well-traveled emcee, journalist, educator and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who now lives in Miami. A messenger of many mediums, his work primarily focuses on addressing social concerns, with healthy yet measured doses of sarcasm, rebellion and humor.