A Florida sheriff took the law into her own hands, using unlawful excuses to expand a crime scene to exclude journalists from a crime scene.
The Palm Beach Sheriff’s deputy was caught on camera in two videos you can see below demanding that photographers cease taking images or video in without any lawful authority.
Detective Amanda Pfeifle of south Florida’s Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office yelled at a local journalist, ordering him not to take pictures of a crime scene, directly violating the First Amendment.
She then used “expanding the crime scene” as an excuse to force the journalist to move.
That journalist was me, Warren Redlich, an attorney who supports and writes in PINAC News as well as my hyper local news website the West Boca News.
I also run West Boca News, a local news website in my home community.
After sharing my experience with PINAC, they asked me to write an article.
I was notified by a reader that a body had been found and crime scene tape had been set up in the north end of South County Regional Park in West Boca Raton.
I went to the scene to take pictures and get the story for our readers. The location is on the map image below:
I stood in the shade at the building across the street from where the activity was going on, roughly 30-40 yards away.
Several staff members from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office were on scene and they had blocked off the road. That is of public importance in my community as it affects many drivers who might try to drive through.
And, of course, it is very close to several neighborhoods, ball fields, and to a local elementary school.
I took a few pictures and then Detective Pfeifle yelled out at me and started walking toward me. That’s when I turned on my phone camera and this conversation ensued:
In the course of the conversation Detective Pfeifle decided to extend the crime scene tape in an attempt to force me much farther away from the scene, again to interfere with my ability to photograph the crime scene.
Deputies then extended the crime scene tape all the way to the building.
The photo below shows how far that was from the actual scene of the incident.
The body and scene are shown by the red arrow, and the extended crime scene tape is marked by the blue arrow.
While I was on the scene, there was no effort by investigators to examine anything on the side of the road away from the body.
This was obviously done only to harass a journalist.
Later at the scene, Detective Brian Allison approached and somewhat more politely asked that photos not be published for 24 hours to allow next of kin to be notified.
I reached out to PBSO Media Relations for comment on Detective Pfeifle’s conduct.
So far there has been no response.