In Lake Forest, California, a man decided to take pictures of an Orange County Sheriff’s Department station.
In addition to his camera, he also brought a quadcopter drone to record aerial photography, but he was approached by deputies before he ever got his quadcopter off the ground.
Conducting a First Amendment audit, the man who owns the youtube channel The Junkyard News was questioned almost immediately by deputies for taking pictures in public and then illegally detained for owning a drone.
In short, the deputies failed the test.
“Just taking pictures?” asked the first deputy to approach the man.
“Yeah,” the man said.
“Is it your personal camera?” the deputy asked.
“I’m sorry, I don’t answer questions.”
“Just taking pictures of our facility though?”
The deputy seemed to realize he had no reason to question the man for photography, but just as it seemed this pointless interrogation was coming to an end, the deputy made a comment that would prove this was just the beginning.
“Don’t fly that drone though. That little unmanned flying aircraft….Just be careful flying that thing.”
“Why, out of curiosity?”
The deputy’s “safety” concern not being a lawful command, the man could have flown his drone over the building, but never got the chance. A second deputy soon appeared.
“He’s the same guy from Aliso Viejo,” the first deputy told the second.
“Can I ask what you’re doing?” asked the second deputy.
“I just had a conversation with this gentleman over here, he’s got all the information you need,” said the man.
“Oh is that true or we got a little 148 attitude over here,” said the second deputy, in reference to California Penal Code 148, apparently thinking that not answering his questions is the same thing as resisting arrest.
“He’s been known to post stuff on YouTube, stuff like that,”said first deputy, demonstrating his knowledge of the man’s activity – lawfully recording video in public.
The deputy than attempted to tag-team the man into admitting he had broken a law in flying the drone over restricted airspace.
The second deputy, who refused to give his name in violation of police policy, acted as if the possession of a drone equaled suspicion of committing a crime, while a third deputy showed up, perhaps merely to add intimidation, as the deputy already on the scene clearly didn’t think the man was a threat.
While the deputies attempted to claim that flying the drone is against the law, they were unable to name a statute the man was violating because he was not violating any laws. Even so, the deputies unlawfully detained the man under suspicion of flying a drone, which is not a crime.
“Am I being lawfully detained or am I free to go?”
“You’re being detained.”
“Under suspicion of what crime?”
“Flying a drone.”
The second deputy than accused the man of flying over the FAA approved height, without any evidence whatsoever.
Eventually, when the deputy realized he was being caught on camera unlawfully detaining a man while grasping at straws, he attempted to rationalize his loose grasp of the law.
“Citizens still have the right to know what you’re doing.”
When that idea clearly failed, the deputy considered calling Homeland Security.
“With all the terrorist stuff going on these days…” the second deputy said, before the man recording laughed that idea away.
Most outrageous of all, the deputies then accused the man of flying over a private building – the Orange County Sheriff’s Department station, which any fifth grader could tell you is public property.
The outrageous video is below.