Monthly Archives: April 2011

West Virginia Cop Overreacts To Guy's Question (Video)


Two brothers were pulled over for a traffic infraction in Parkersburg, West Virginia. It all seems routine and the officer seems cordial until the brother in the passenger seat decides to asks him a question.

The question, which was nothing out of the ordinary, landed the guy in jail.

The excitement begins at 1:25 in the video.


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PINAC Turned Four Years Old Today

Today marked the four-year anniversary of Photography is Not a Crime, a blog that I did not expect to last longer than a few months, if even that.

My original intention was to document the trial of my first arrest, the one where I was charged with nine misdemeanors because I refused to stop taking photos of a group of Miami police officers in February 2007.


Those cops will forever be ingrained in my header as a reminder that not only was I allowed to take their photo, but I was allowed to post it all over the internet as well.

I’m hoping they will think twice the next time they are tempted to harass a photographer for taking their picture, but you never know.


After all, David Socarass, the Miami Beach police officer who arrested me in 2009 for taking his photo – the same cop who failed to show up to trial twice prompting my case to be dropped – didn’t hesitate to harass me a year later when I came across him again.

But that time I captured it on video. And since then, there have been a multitude of other arrests that I’ve documented on this blog as well as a few more run-ins with myself and authority figures, including the time I was assaulted by a Metrorail security guard for walking into the station with a video camera for which I am now suing.

So if there is any lesson I learned from this blog is to never leave home without a video camera, preferably two, in case they take one away from you.

But in all honesty, I sometimes get bored of the blog. Especially when it comes to the day-to-day routine stories.

However, nothing replaces the adrenaline rush I get when I post a story that I know will go viral, such as the one last week of the Las Vegas police officer attacking a man for videotaping him.

So I really don’t see myself neglecting PINAC, even though sometimes I’m tempted to do so.

In fact, I am putting together a proposal for a possible book deal. After all, I have plenty of material.

But I’m curious. What would you guys like to see in a Photography is Not a Crime book?

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State Trooper Who Arrested Photographer Now A Photographer


It was less than four years ago that Arkansas State Trooper Thomas Weindruch arrested a photojournalist for taking his picture, claiming he feared for his life because a flash was used.

Weindruck – who was disciplined for making that arrest - has apparently gotten over his fear of cameras and is now a photo enthusiast, according to his profile page on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - the same newspaper that called him out for having a history of "unacceptable" and "unprofessional" behavior in a 2008 article.

This is how he describes himself on Capture Arkansas, the section of the newspaper site that allows photographers to submit photos and vote for their favorites:

“I am an Arkansas State Trooper who loves taking photos of all kinds of things in my spare time.”

Weindruch even went as far as to use the same image taken by the photographer he arrested in December 2007.

The Capture Arkansas page came to the attention of an alert Photography is Not a Crime reader who sent it this way.

I sent photojournalist Bill Lawson an email last night asking if he gave Weindruch permission to use his photo, but he has not responded yet (for the record, he has not given me persmission to use it either, so I'll remove it if he wishes).

But it is not likely considering how upset he was at being arrested, especially after learning that Weindruch already had a history of complaints against him for angry outbursts against citizens, according to a 2008 article. 

Lawson filed a complaint over his arrest, alleging Weindruch physically roughed him up; would not let him sit down while he was in handcuffs even though he has health problems; yelled and screamed at him; and was rude, abusive and threatening.

Lawson said he was trying to photograph the fire, with Weindruch in the foreground, when Weindruch became belligerent toward him.

A three-person review board investigated the complaint and reported to State Police Director Col. Winford Phillips in January that it found Lawson’s complaint to be unsubstantiated, although it said Weindruch showed poor judgment in the incident.

Weindruch ended up suspended for two days without pay and removed from the street beat for a year.

Obstruction of justice charges were dropped against Lawson days after his arrest.

And now Weindruch is a photographer who enjoys taking pictures of pretty flowers and sunsets.

Let’s hope that helps ease his explosive temper.

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Hillsborough Deputies Once Again Prevent Reporters From Doing Their Job


Ryan French, the Tampa news videographer who had a run-in with Hillsborough County deputies last week, reports another incident where deputies did not respect the rights of journalists.

Essentially, police shot a bank robbery suspect at his home, so when reporters arrived to the scene, they were ordered to stand a block away from where the crime tape had been set up.

They eventually got smart and moved in towards the crime tape, sparking a discussion with one of the deputies.

A public information officer was called and everything was sorted out.

But it's pretty absurd that deputies believe they can keep reporters away from the crime tape. The whole purpose of the tape is to let citizens, including journalists, know where they are not allowed to enter.

There is no reason why they need to be kept further away from the tape.


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Las Vegas Cop Beats Man For Videotaping Him

Fuck you, Derek Colling.

You deserve to be thrown in prison because you are a violent criminal.

And you are a liar with a badge.

The videotape proves that.

Rant over.

Derek Colling is a Las Vegas police officer who attacked a citizen for videotaping him on a public street last month.

The videographer was Mitchell Crooks, a 36-year-old man who ended up with a bruises on his face and a broken nose.

Colling charged him with battery on a police officer and obstruction of justice, which could have sent him to prison.

Fortunately, the district attorney’s office dropped the charges against Crooks. But even more fortunate is the fact that they returned his camera without deleting his footage, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Now Las Vegas police have enough evidence to investigate Colling, who already has a violent history. And Crooks is suing for $500,000 in damages.

The incident took place on March 20 where Colling was arresting some burglary suspects. Crooks was standing in front of his house videotaping the investigation.

Colling pulled up to him, shone a light in his face and began questioning him.

Here is that exchange:

Colling: Can I help you, sir?

Crooks: Nope, just observing.

Colling: Do you live here?

Crooks: Nope.

Colling: Turn that off for me.

Crooks: Why do I have to turn it off? I’m perfectly within my legal rights to be able to do this.

Colling: (Walking towards Crooks) Turn off the camera for me.

Crooks: I’m perfectly within my legal rights to do this, sir.

Colling: Listen, turn off the camera for me.

Crooks: No sir, I am within my legal rights to do this.

Colling: You don’t live here.

Crooks: I do live here.

Colling then attacks Crooks in a vile abuse of authority, taking him down and kicking the camera in the process, all while ordering him to stop resisting.

In his report, Colling claimed that Crooks attempted to take him down by grabbing his shoulders. The video proves otherwise.

Colling tried to justify the arrest because Crooks stated that he did not live there, even though he actually did live there.

It is unclear why he would lie about this, but that still didn’t give Colling the right to attack him or tell him to stop recording.

The truth is, Crooks could have just ignored the question altogether because he was not doing anything other than expressing his First Amendment rights to videotape cops in public.

According to an ACLU attorney interviewed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Colling also erred in claiming that Crooks was trespassing. By law, only a property owner or resident can make a trespassing complaint, Lichtenstein said.

"Even if the officer didn't think he lived there, that doesn't mean he didn't have permission to be there,'' Lichtenstein said. "In the video I heard, that question was never asked."

The Review-Journal also points out that Colling has a history of violence and Crooks has a history of recording police. Not the most compatible pairing.

Colling has been involved in two fatal shootings in his 5 1/2 years as a Las Vegas police officer. In 2006, he and four other officers shot Shawn Jacob Collins after the 43-year-old man pulled a gun at an east valley gas station.

In 2009, he confronted a mentally ill 15-year-old Tanner Chamberlain, who was holding a knife in front of his mother and waving it in the direction of officers. Colling shot him in the head.

Both shootings were ruled justified by Clark County coroner's juries.

Crooks made headlines in 2002 when he videotaped two Inglewood, Calif., police officers beating a 16-year-old boy. One officer was fired and criminally charged but was not convicted after two trials ended with hung juries. The incident strained race relations in Southern California -- the police officer was white, the teenager black.

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Men Taking Pics Inside Plane Force Its Return To Starting Gate


Three men who were believed to be taking pictures inside a taxiing airplane raised enough suspicion to force the plane to return to its starting gate at Denver International Airport Thursday.

The men were removed from the United Airlines plane and questioned as well as a fourth man who reported the alleged photography.

Eventually, all passengers were removed from the plane while authorities swept the plane for "suspicious devices."

Two of the three men in question loooked Middle-Eastern.

According to The Denver Channel:

No arrests were made. It's believed that a couple of the passengers were taking photographs, or something like that, while the plane was taxiing, and that raised suspicion, said DIA spokesman Jeff Green.

The plane was allowed to depart two-and-a-half hours later. However, because it was already after midnight, it landed at Los Angeles International Airport instead of its intended destinatin of Santa Ana. The plane eventually arrived at Santa Ana, no telling how many hours later.


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Pennsyvlania State Trooper Forces Man To Delete Photos

A Pennsylvania man was forced to delete his images after he took pictures of a nuclear power plant from a public road.

Chris Best had stopped his SUV on the side of the road to take the pictures of a PPL plant in Salem Township last month. He walked a few feet from his car before a security guard pulled up in a car on the other side of the fence and yelled at him to stop taking photos.

The security guard then ordered him to stay put while he called police.

A Pennsylvania state trooper pulled up to the scene and began questioning Best, his wife, two kids and mother-in-law, writing down their names and dates of births.

The cop allowed him to drive off, but soon pulled him over and ordered him to delete the photos, stating that PPL insisted upon this.

Best did as he was told, deleting about 10 photos on his point-and-shoot camera as the cop stood over him.

The article came out in the Press-Enterprise, a local newspaper that requires readers to register and pay money before they can read the stories online.

But a Photography is Not a Crime reader sent me pictures of the actual front page newspaper article, which will be sure to create a stir among certain PINAC readers who will complain about me committing copyright violations.

A PPL spokesman stated that they never demanded Best delete the photos, they only asked him to do so.

With the help of an armed cop, of course.





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Tampa News Videographer Threatened With Arrest For Videotaping Deputy


A Tampa news videographer was told he was not allowed to shoot video of a residential street where deputies were conducting an investigation Monday evening.

Hillsborough County sheriff deputies told videographer Ryan French that he needed to move back because residents did not want their houses on video, which goes down as one of the most absurd reasons I’ve heard since running this blog.

French went back and forth with the deputies and at one point (2:45) was threatened with arrest on charges of obstructing if he did not turn off the camera.

Hillsborough Sheriff Lt. Diaz stated the following:

“You shine that camera on my face again, I will turn it off for you, impound it, and arrest you.”

French wrote a detailed account of his experience on the Tampa Bay Media Group website, stating that when he asked Lt. Diaz why he needed to move back if other citizens were allowed in the area, he was told that “they didn’t have cameras.”

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Orlando TV Reporter Scuffles With Police And Security Guard

An Orlando reporter was involved in a scuffle with a police officer and a security guard for trying to report on a shooting incident at an internet cafe Tuesday.

Patrick Pegues, a reporter for WOFL-TV, was not arrested in the incident caught on a low-quality video camera.

It is not clear why Pegues and the reporter had an altercation in the first place, but tensions were most likely running high from the shooting where a security guard shot and killed a masked gunman.

Pegues wrote the story on the shooting incident, but neglected to mention anything about his altercation with the security guard and police officer.

But the Orlando Sentinel wrote a short piece on the incident, mentioning a 2007 incident in which Pegues was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. Charges were dropped in that incident.

The video of the incident was posted on The Buckethead Show website, which is an Orlando radio show.


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Journalist Assaulted Twice, Including By Cop

A Hawaiian journalist was assaulted twice for shooting video; once by a member of the Dog the Bounty Hunter TV crew, a second time by a Maui cop.

The second incident was clearly caught on camera.

Tommy Russo, publisher of the Maui Time website, said he stepped out of his office and came upon a video shoot for the Dog the Bounty Hunter reality TV show in a parking lot.

He pulled out his cell phone camera to begin shooting video and was confronted by a security guard named Sonny Westbrook, who began pushing him away.

Westbrook then struck him in the mouth and swiped Russo’s phone.

Beth Chapman, wife of  Duane Chapman, the star of the show, places her light in Russo's camera, demanding he shut it off, which is the height of irony considering the show's main premise is to hunt fugitives down on video.

Russo called police to report the incident, but that only made things worse.

It was then that Officer Nelson Johnson of MPD told me I was "antagonizing" Dog's gang. I panned the camera over to Officer Johnson and he charged me and hit me in the face opened-handed as he violently yanked the phone from me. I demanded he return it and he did, at which point I began filming again. 

While the first incident is not on the video he provided, the second incident is on it.

“You can’t film me without my consent. You can’t use my image without my consent,” officer Johnson tells Russo on video, proving that he is yet another cop who has no clue of the laws he is paid to enforce.

Russo said that Johnson charged him again.

He then charged me a second time, and as I turned away from him and shoved my phone in my pants he grabbed me and twisted my left arm behind my back, wrenching it painfully. I pleaded with him to stop, telling him he was hurting me. That only made him wrench harder.

This went on for at least three minutes. I was screaming for help. The more I screamed in pain, the more Officer Johnson wrenched my arm.

Eventually, a sergeant arrived on the scene, but Johnson then fabricated a story, claiming that Russo had charged at him with the camera, causing him to fear for his life, which is why he had to smack Russo in the mouth and take his phone.

 I called Russo to get more information, but his voice mail box is full.

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