Ian Van Kuyk, a 24-year-old photojournalism student, received a first-hand lesson in photographing cops when a Philadelphia police officer knocked him down, pushed his face into the pavement, then threw him in jail for 24 hours.
The Temple University student ended up with a felony charge of hindering apprehension as well as the misdemeanors of obstructing justice, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
His girlfriend, Meghan Feighan, was also arrested on felony hindering apprehension when she tried to take his camera while he was being beaten.
“I was holding my camera away from my body,” Van Kuyk said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime Friday night.
“It’s Temple University property. I didn’t want it to get damaged.
“My girlfriend walked across the street to grab my camera and she was grabbed by another officer. She spent 18 hours in jail.”
The incident took place March 14 as Van Kuyk sat on his front steps with his girlfriend and watched a police officer pull over one of his neighbors.
He had to complete a night photography assignment for one of his classes, so he grabbed his camera and started taking photos.
He said he was about 15 feet away when one of the officers ordered him back. He complied but the officer began shoving him repeatedly.
“He asked me what I was trying to prove and I told him I was a photojournalism student at Temple,” Van Kuyk said.
He said he began taking photos of the officer but none of them came out very clear. He said he purposely avoided using flash to not further antagonize the officer.
“I didn’t want them to say I was affecting their investigation,” he said.
Feighan’s charge has already been dismissed. He won’t go to trial until next month.
But he still hasn’t received the arrest report that describes the allegations against him or lists the name of the arresting officer, although neighbors told him that cop has a history of abusing citizens.
Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, already sent a letter of protest to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who last year issued a general order to his officers that citizens have the right to record them.
But as we’ve seen in the case of Baltimore police, that general order is obviously not worth the paper it is written on.
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CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write “carlos3” in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.