Monthly Archives: November 2011

DC Police Chief Apologizes To Videographer For Harassment And Threats

Washington D.C. cops were more concerned with preventing a news videographer from recording the aftermath of a carjacking last week than they were in trying to find the suspect.

As a result, the carjacker is still at large.

But at least D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier apologized to photojournalist Alan Henney for the way her officers threatened him with arrest.

According to WTOP:

"There is no policy against videotaping in public space. This is a clear violation by our members and we will have it addressed - you have my apologies," (Lanier) wrote in an email to Henney.

Lanier also wrote the department "will continue to work with our members to ensure they are clear about what is and is not permissible."

Several times over the past year D.C. police have detained photographers and even confiscated a women's cell phone and deleted all her video after she recorded police making an arrest.

D.C. Police policy on videotaping states (emphasis not added) "News media members may photograph or videotape police officers performing their official duties. Officers will not physically block or cover the lenses of cameras or video taping equipment. Members in accordance with General Order 204.1 will not assist nor hinder camerapersons at scenes. Members will not bring the media into private residences as part of a crime scene or police raid. COURTS HAVE RULED THAT MEMBERS MAY BE HELD LIABLE TO CIVIL SUIT FOR SUCH ACTIONS."

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Iowa Man Convicted In Videotaping Case Needs To File Appeal

An Iowa man who was video recording a traffic stop from his front yard was convicted of interfering with an investigation.

Justin Norman, 28, now faces up to 30 days in jail.

Hopefully, he'll appeal the case because the above video shows he was hardly interfering.

Unfortunately, the Des Moines Register refused to post or link to the video in its story.

Norman was a passenger in Kirk Brown's car when police pulled them over for having an open trunk in July.

The 12-minute video shows Brown having an attitude with the cops, aka contempt of cop, which probably led to the officers arresting Norman.

And it probably helped the prosecutor convince the jury that Norman was anti-cop and deserved to be arrested, even though from a legal standpoint, he was not breaking the law.

Iowa law defines interference as someone who "resists" or "obstructs" and makes it clear that this does not include "verbal harassment."

719.1  Interference with official acts.

1.  A person who knowingly resists or obstructs anyone known by the person to be a peace officer, emergency medical care provider under chapter 147A, or fire fighter, whether paid or volunteer, in the performance of any act which is within the scope of the lawful duty or authority of that officer, emergency medical care provider under chapter 147A, or fire fighter, whether paid or volunteer, or who knowingly resists or obstructs the service or execution by any authorized person of any civil or criminal process or order of any court, commits a serious misdemeanor. However, if a person commits an interference with official acts, as defined in this subsection, and in so doing inflicts bodily injury other than serious injury, that person commits an aggravated misdemeanor. If a person commits an interference with official acts, as defined in this subsection, and in so doing inflicts or attempts to inflict serious injury, or displays a dangerous weapon, as defined in section 702.7, or is armed with a firearm, that person commits a class "D" felony.

2.  A person under the custody, control, or supervision of the department of corrections who knowingly resists, obstructs, or interferes with a correctional officer, agent, employee, or contractor, whether paid or volunteer, in the performance of the person's official duties, commits a serious misdemeanor. If a person violates this subsection and in so doing commits an assault, as defined in section 708.1, the person commits an aggravated misdemeanor. If a person violates this subsection and in so doing inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily injury other than serious injury to another, displays a dangerous weapon, as defined in section 702.7, or is armed with a firearm, the person commits a class "D" felony. If a person violates this subsection and uses or attempts to use a dangerous weapon, as defined in section 702.7, or inflicts serious injury to another, the person commits a class "C" felony.

3.  The terms "resist" and "obstruct", as used in this section, do not include verbal harassment unless the verbal harassment is accompanied by a present ability and apparent intention to execute a verbal threat physically.

This reminds me of my experience where a jury found me guilty of resisting arrest, even though the evidence did not support this.

I appealed my case and had the conviction reversed. Hopefully, Norman will do the same.

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South Florida Sun Sentinel Writer Puts The "Duh" In Journalism

Barbara Hijek of the South Florida Sun Sentinel is just so sarcastic and cutting and biting as she writes mocking stories for her FloriDUH column highlighting the idiocy of the state.

She is also so smug and condescending and, well, stupid.

She recently wrote about a pair of men who were arrested after video recording cops. At least that is how the incident began.

The original story in the Treasure Coast Palm is so convoluted that it’s impossible to tell exactly what happened that night.

But Hijek determined that the men were arrested because they decided to “cop watch.”

And in Hijek’s sheltered world, that is just such a bizarre concept that she must refer to it in quotations.

Here’s how she wrote the story:

It's called "Cop Watching," where people tape police officers as they make stops and arrests.

And, unless you want to risk a trip to jail, it's probably not a good idea to cop watch.

Nowhere in her article does she inform readers that video recording cops is legal.

Instead, she refers readers to another example where cops arrested a man for video recording them.

Here's another example of cop-watchers transformed into inmates.

Tarpon Springs: Police arrest college student for ‘Cop Watching’

Thanks to Hijek, we should now refer to her paper as the South FloriDUH Sun Sentinel.

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Pennsylvania Cops Still Threatening Citizens With Wiretapping Charges

Police in Pennsylvania are still clinging to the myth that it is a felony wiretapping crime to openly record them in public.

But Pennsylvania's law is very clear that one must have an expection of privacy in order for there to be a wiretapping crime.

But this has not prevented cops from lying to citizens about the law.

Lehigh County Sheriff's officials were apparently evicting a family from a home that had been forclosed.

The woman being evicted is named Patricia and talks about her situation in the bottom video.

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Senator Bill Nelson's Intern Threatens To Sue Me For Video Recording Him

I was going to hold off in posting this until I edited the whole video and finished writing the story for Miami Beach 411, but Senator Bill Nelson's intern is probably checking my site to see if he needs to proceed with his lawsuit.

He's not really clear on what law I violated, but he's pretty sure there's one out there.

I had accompanied a group of Occupy Miami activists Monday to Nelson's office because they were hoping to persuade the democratic senator to vote against the controversial Senate Bill 1867, which is being protested by the ACLU:

The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night’s Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.

Nelson wasn't there, so we hung around inside his office for a few minutes in the hopes his employees would relay him the message.

The intern got a little agitated that I was recording, so he grabbed my arm. I pulled away and warned that I would call the cops if he continued. He tried grabbing my arm again, but I moved it so he wouldn't touch the camera.

I'm not really one to call the cops on people, but I find threatening to call the cops on people is more effective than slapping their hand away. Maybe I'm mellowing in my older age.

Then we went to the office of Senator Marco Rubio, a republican, and I was ordered by his represenative to leave if I did not stop recording. The cops were already on hand waiting for us, so they told me to leave and I did.

They were cordial about it and even confirmed my right to video record in the hallway outside the office when a janitor told me I was not allowed.

And I really didn't want to make this about me when it was really about the insane legislation that the senate is about to vote on.

The activists ended up sitting behind closed doors with the represenative and I could have joined them if it wasn't for my crazy need to actually document the meeting.

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Philly Cop Receiving Flack For Facebook Postings



Ever since UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike blatantly pepper sprayed a group of sitting protesters, his image has turned into an internet meme, Photoshopped into everything from John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence to Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

My favorite shows Pike as a helium-filled balloon at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.


However, a man who identifies himself as a Philadelphia police officer has also gotten into the act and is now receiving all kinds of criticism for it.

Mike Sidebotham posted the now-famous image on his Facebook page with the caption, “Don’t mind me, just watering my hippies.”

And now the Philadelphia Weekly is describing his posts as “menacing.”

Sidebotham claims he has a weird sense of humor and is only exercising his right to free speech.

Sidebotham, whose profile indicates that he graduated Archbishop Ryan High School in 2003, defended himself even further: “Its a picture what am I inciting? Whats it matter what my profession is? Did I do it? No. No where did I promote what happened, I just find the caption funny. People are trying to say because of my profession I cant disagree with what you guys are doing? I never laid a hand on a single one of you guys have i? Nope, so I am exercising my freedom of speech. I think I have earned the right to do so.”

I agree with Sidebotham on this one.

Sidebotham ended up removing the pepper spraying picture, but the Philadelphia Weekly searched through his Facebook page and found other posts where he mocks the Occupy movement.

I really don’t see anything “menacing” about any of it. Nothing more than your typical Facebook poster (but I also tend to draw Facebook friends with extreme views and warped sense of humors, many which will shock the average person).

It probably wasn’t very professional to post those things, but I would rather judge him by how he treats people in real life than by what he posts on Facebook.

And we’ll probably have a chance to see him in action today at 5 p.m. as police attempt to remove Occupy Philadelphia activists from their encampment.




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Violence Once Again Mars Black Friday Shopping

There’s nothing like the holiday season to bring out the worst in people. Especially when it comes to saving a few bucks on Black Friday.

This year was no different, maybe even the most violent to date, with at least two shootings, two pepper spray incidents, two tasering incidents and one man getting his face bashed in by police after he was suspected of shoplifting.

The latter incident, which took place in a Walmart in Buckeye, Arizona, was captured in the above video and shows a 54-year-old man unconcsious lying in a pool of his own blood.

According to Fox News, Jerald Allen Newman may not have even been shoplifting.

The man's wife and other witnesses say that Newman was trying to help his young grandson after the boy was trampled by shoppers, and only put a video game in his waistband to free his hands to help the boy.

If it's true he was shoplifting, then police should have waited until he was outside the store to apprehend him.

Here are six steps that should be followed to avoid a false arrest claim, according to the Crime Doctor site.

  1. You must see the shoplifter approach the merchandise
  2. You must see the shoplifter select the merchandise
  3. You must see the shoplifter conceal, convert or carry away the merchandise
  4. You must maintain continuous observation of the shoplifter
  5. You must observe the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise
  6. You must apprehend the shoplifter outside the store

Most of the other incidents around the country also took place in Walmart.

In Southern California, a woman shot out streams of pepper spray in a Walmart to keep rival customers away from products she wanted to buy, injuring 20 people.

She left the store without being apprehended.

In Northern California, a Walmart shopper was critically wounded outside the store after a man opened fire in an attempt to rob merchandise.

In North Carolina, a Walmart shopper was also shot outside the store after shopping for Christmas merchandise.

Also in North Carolina, a cop working security for Walmart unleashed his pepper spray on a man who may not even done anything wrong.

Angel Bunting, who was shopping at the store, said a man fell into a display as people lined up for discounted cell phones. She said she believed it was an accident but security thought there was a fight.

About 20 people, including children, were affected by the pepper spray, she alleged, but that couldn't be confirmed.

In Rome, New York, a man was arrested after a fight broke out in Walmart seconds after they opened its doors.

In Wyoming, police fired a Taser round for “crowd control” in a Walmart where people were getting antsy for merchandise. Nobody was injured.

In Connecticut, a Walmart shopper was Tasered and arrested after getting in a fight with other customers.

In Alabama, a Walmart shopper was also Tasered and arrested

In Central Florida, a man was arrested after getting in a fight near the jewelry counter of a Walmart.

So far, the most interesting video to emerge from all this madness is the one above from Arizona that shows a man lying in a pool of blood after police body slammed him.

Two years ago, Walmart banned journalists from entering their stores to cover the insanity.

That same year, a Photography is Not a Crime reader submitted this video from a South Florida Walmart depicting the chaos that they did not want you to see.

Here’s a video from a Wisconsin Walmart on this Black Friday where a guy is going around interviewing people with a camera before somebody off camera demands to know why he is recording.

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Illinois Cop Pepper Sprays, Then Chokes Non-Resistant Suspect On Video

A dash cam video showing an Illinois cop pepper spraying a non-resistant man could spark a state investigation against the Champaign Police Department.

The video, which was anonymously posted to Youtube Sunday but recorded last June, shows a cop detaining a man under questionable circumstances.

The man had been walking on a sidewalk populated with pedestrians when the cop pulled up and ordered him to step up to his car.

The man kept walking which prompted the cop to chase after him and bring him towards the hood of the squad car.

The man was not physically resisting but he was verbally questioning why he was being detained.

Within ten seconds, he was pepper sprayed.

Another officer runs up and helps the first officer – who is busy pepper spraying towards the crowd of onlookers.

“I hope you’re recording this shit,” the man says as he is led away.

The man’s crime: jaywalking.

He was also charged with resisting arrest but that was dropped in court.

The incident begins shortly before the 11-minute mark in the 53-minute video.

At 13:28, the cop can be heard telling another cop that the man and his group stepped into oncoming traffic and blocked traffic, but the video doesn’t support his claims.

Beginning at 14:30, the cop can be heard trying to get the identification of the man, who is already sitting handcuffed in the back of the car.

But the man keeps asking for another officer by name, obviously somebody he trusted because this cop was not coming across very trustworthy.

At 15:40, the camera switches to another angle showing the handcuffed man in the back of the squad car.

The officer opens the door, which prompts the handcuffed man to say, “I’m not letting you touch me” and asking once again for the officer he knows.

“Take me to jail,” the man pleads.

The cop then pounces on him, knocking them both of them out of frame.

“He just tried to choke me in the back of the car,” the man yells.

The man sounds like he is saying he is going to “tell my mom” but he’s not coming across like a whiny mama’s boy. Just as a pissed off citizen who was unjustly harassed and attacked.

Perhaps his mother is the cop he is asking for. Perhaps I misunderstood the mom part and he is asking for somebody else.

But it is clear he knows his rights and that is what is pissing off the cop.

The man’s attorney claims he doesn’t know who posted the video online and the name of the officer has still not been made public.

According to Illinois Public Radio:

Police department personnel investigated the case, and Chief R.T. Finney issued a finding that the officer’s actions regarding ‘use of force’ were within police and training standards. Meanwhile, Champaign City Manager Steve Carter said a possible investigation of the arrest by state police could start later this week.

“These are very difficult circumstances, and we’ll want to take a look at what’s the right thing to come out of this for both of those,” Carter said Sunday before the video was leaked. “So, the individual case needs to be resolved for sure. Wherever that leads us is where we need to go. ”

Champaign Mayor Don Gerard said he is ‘gravely disappointed’ the police video was posted online, saying it is counteractive to anything the city is trying to achieve in terms of police-community relations. The mayor added that he is ‘very confident’ that state police will investigate the June 5 arrest.

“I hoping that despite (the video being released) that whatever actions the city and the state’s attorney take aren’t compromised,” Gerard said.

We shouldn't be surprised that the Champaign Police Department "investigated" the incident and determined the cop did nothing wrong.

After all, pepper spraying a man for questioning why he is being detained is common police protocal, even if it is not lawful. And so is choking a handcuffed man in the back of the car who just won't stop proclaiming his innocence.

don_mug.jpgAnd we shouldn't expect much from the possible investigation by Illinois State Police. Cops will almost always protect their own.

And we shouldn't even be surprised that Champaign Mayor Don Gerard is "gravely disappointed" that somebody would have the gall to post the video online - no matter how cool he was before he took office.

All we're left with is the court of public opinion, which is why the video needed to be posted online.

An Illinois radio station, The Show 1045, posted edited the video to include the important segments at the very beginning.

The station also posted a petition demanding the creation of a citizen's review board because this is not an isolated issue with the Champaign Police Department.

I'm not a community member, but I signed the petition anyway, even though my experience with citizen review boards has been subpar. But any citizen oversight is better than no citizen oversight.

To Whom It May Concern,

After reviewing the video from the recent Champaign Police Officer pepper spray and choking incident, I was appalled with the conduct of the Police Officer. His actions sully the good name of all the hard working Police Officers across our great nation. To permit officers to act without impunity is a dangerous path and it has dire consequences for the community much less the trust that they instill in local law enforcement.

After the severe beating of Calvin Miller, murder of Kiwane Carrington and many other situations within the Champaign County community, it is clear that there is a systematic problem and that this is not the result of a singular 'rogue' officer. As such, we ask that you implement a Citizen's Review Board and hold these officers accountable for eggregious actions such as illustrated in this video.


We The People

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UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza Needs To Be Fired Immediately


The fallout of the UC Davis pepper spray incident continues with Police Chief Annette Spicuzza being placed on administrative leave today.

Hopefully that’s the first step in terminating her.

Spicuzza proved to be a liar Saturday as she tried to justify the pepper spray incident by telling journalists the officers were in fear for their safety.

This is what she told the Sacramento Bee:

“There was no way out of that circle,” she told the newspaper. “They were cutting the officers off from their support. It’s a very volatile situation.”

This is what she told the Los Angeles Times:

“The students had encircled the officers," she said. "They needed to exit. They were looking to leave but were unable to get out."

But if you look at the video below, you will see that the officers were never encircled.

And that it only became a volatile situation after Lt. John Pike flagrantly pepper sprayed a group of non-resistant students sitting on the ground.

And even then, the students remained defiant, yet non-violent.

Spicuzza, who has been UC Davis Police Chief since 2005, made $140,000 last year.

She described herself as having "high standards and strong ethics" on her LinkedIn page. We can look past that lie as typical resume embellishment.

But we can't look past Saturday's lie.

Spicuzza needs to be fired because her statements to the press are an ugly reminder of why it’s so hard to trust police officers these days.

She needs to be fired because if it weren’t for the cameras, we could easily see the students being charged with felony crimes based on her lies.

And she needs to be fired to serve as a reminder that we’re not going to tolerate the lies anymore.  

Especially now that almost every man, woman and child is carrying some type of camera at all times.

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Why This Is The Most Iconic Image Of Occupy Movement … So Far


In a week that produced several “iconic” images from Occupy protests throughout the country, the above photo is easily the most iconic and not just because of the blatant way the cop is pepper spraying the non-resistant students.

But because of the number of cameras capturing the incident that took place on Friday at the University of California, Davis.

I counted at least 15 cameras, not including the one held by Louise Macabitas who captured the image.

Yet UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike appears unperturbed as he casually unleashes a steady stream of pepper spray at the students as if they were cornered cockroaches in his kitchen.

You have to wonder what is going though his mind as he strolls back and forth with his pepper spray canister.

Pike’s actions have stirred a firestorm on the internet, including from many people who did not even agree with the Occupy movement.

And many are calling for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.

It didn’t take long for Pike's personal information to appear online, including his $110,000-a-year salary, which is now at risk.

Nathan Brown, the UC Davis faculty member calling for the resignation of the chancellor, made just over $64,000-a –year.

Perhaps the above image might not go down as the most iconic, simply because there were so many other cameras, including video and still, that captured the same incident.

But to me, that is what makes it the most iconic. The fact that for every pepper spray canister they have, we have at least ten cameras.

And that’s why we’ll win in the long run.

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