Santa Ana School Cops Prove to be the Real Gang in the District

Police from the Santa Ana Unified School District tried their best to bully a Cop Watch videographer from recording a traffic stop without actually touching him until finally they couldn’t contain themselves any longer and grabbed him, placing him on the ground and emptying his pockets before releasing him.

Unfortunately, the actual detainment, which took place last month, was not caught on camera, but the videographer describes it towards the end of the video.

But judging the way police were acting towards him throughout the video, there is little doubt he is telling the truth.

The videographer explains in the video that he started to record the traffic stop because he had received complaints that Santa Ana School police were harassing students.

When he walked up to the stop on the sidewalk with his camera recording, the officer, identified by his name tag as Aquino, became uncomfortable and ordered him to move away, even though he was already standing at a respectable distance.

Aquino called for back-up and several more cop cars pulled up, which intensified the intimidation.

One cop demands his identification, which he refuses to provide on the basis that he wasn’t being detained.

That cop, whose name I did not catch, then lies by saying, “when a police officers asks you for your identification, you must provide it to him.”

But the videographer does an excellent job of standing his ground, which prompts another cop named Nguyen to start standing in his space.

“Are you trying to intimidate me,” the videographer asks.

“No, I’m not, I’m standing my space,” Nguyen responds, even though he walked about 15 feet to get to that space.

Had the citizen did that to a cop, the cop would have either tased, pepper sprayed, punched or just shot and killed him and get away with it by claiming he was in “fear for his life.”

More cops arrive, including one who demands to know, “what are you doing with a camera in front of the school,” implying that he was some type of pedophile.

The videographer does a good job of standing firm throughout all this harassment but he apparently turned off his camera, which was when they grabbed him.

The whole video is a pretty disgusting example of polished police intimidation tactics, showing they probably have trained themselves to handle these situations.

It was just a year ago that the Santa Ana Unified School District received a $500,000 grant from the U.S Department of Justice to combat gang activity in the schools.

But the video makes it obvious that they are the real gang in that district.


About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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  • steveo

    I’ve got mixed feelings on this, but I’m starting to think that it is better to give the leos your name when they ask for ID. Just say it once and make sure the recorder is going. Not telling leos who you are, just so incredibly infuriates them that it isn’t worth the beat down that is sure to come.
    Ask if they are detaining you, state your name (just once), and tell them you don’t wish to talk to them any further. If you copwatch like this often, the leos will get used to it, reluctantly, but their behavior will invariably change for the better just like this journalist wrote in his comments, the tone changed completely when confronted by the copwatcher.

    Another observation, the leo parked his prowler so the dash cam couldn’t pick up any of the confrontation and if this PD has a policy of having all traffic stops recorded he could be in more trouble for that than the intimidation of the videographer.

    Also, I say this over and over and over on this site and others, but it doesn’t seem to do any good. The less said the better. Don’t get into a street law argument with the Leo. It’s better to say absolutely nothing after you give them your name (if you want to), be a fly on the wallpaper. If you were observing without the camera, they wouldn’t pay any attention to you at all, so act like a bystander without a camera, stand there with your thumb in your mouth.

    Also with this incident, file a formal complaint with the PD and with the local FBI office and copy the complaint to the lawyers who worked up the Friend of the Court Brief for the Office of Civil Rights in DC. Here’s a copy of that brief with the attorneys’ names. Everyone should know this brief by heart but if you don’t want to read it the lawyers names are on page 18.

    Also best advise I can give is join the NPPA, it doesn’t hurt having Mickey Osterricher writing a complant letter for you.

    • JdLxx

      I’m starting to think that it is better to give the leos your name

      I agree. Give them your name, and then ask, “And your name is … ?” It’s amazing how many cops are complete cowards when asked their names. Capture it all on video.

    • Lefim

      A bit late, but would like to add my two cents.

      From the vid the cameraman started a conversation with the cop. “State v. Biondolillo,” citing “Colten v. Kentucky,” puts it that a citizen “may have a constitutional right to ‘criticize and observe police conduct,’ he has no parallel right to engage an officer or others in conversation at a time and in a manner that causes—or may imminently cause—a substantial interference in the officer’s duties during the course of a criminal investigation.” ( ) . So Steveo’s point about the cameraman remain a “fly on the wall” and be silent can’t be over-stated, as well as using Carlos’ rule about staying at least twenty feet away, and wait until the cop starts the conversation.

      If the cameraman gets so engaged, then have a quick line for some of the predictable questions cop are going to say. Like: “What are you doing?” is answered with “Officer, I’m not interfering. I’m asserting my First Amendment rights. You’re being documented and recorded offsite.” and add nothing else. Wait ’till the cop comes back with something like “Stand back.” to which (provided you’re standing twenty feet away per Carlos’ rule and in public spot like a sidewalk) reply with “Officer, I have a right to be here. I’m filming for documentation purposes and not interfering with your work.” ( )

      If backup comes be ready to use Steveo’s statement, in a conversational tone to them: “Officer, I’m doing a story (documentary) about police misconduct. What I would like in this video is for this to be like the before picture rather than the after picture. We want this one to be “this is how officers should handle police encounters with videographers”, we don’t want to use this story to be the bad police misconduct like the Rodney King episode. If you restrain my right to continue my story, you will be violating the 1st Amendment by what is known as Prior restraint. So, it’s probably in your best interest to just ignore me. ”
      ( )

      I know this is old hat for experienced readers, but new readers are always coming in and points previously brought out must told and told again.

  • HonorYourOath

    Well I was going to write a comment but Steveo made that pointless!

    • steveo

      Yeah, it’s kind of like this when an experienced copwatcher is out plying his trade, pretty soon all the Leos know who he is. All leos in Jeff Gray’s neighborhood know who he is, so why wouldn’t he give up his name. Crap, Jeff got arrested after the cop addressed him by name and then arrested him for not identifying himself. Copwatching certainly does one thing, it exposes the idiot cops.

  • HonorYourOath

    Steveo on the ID issue I was thinking about carrying business cards to give them when they ask for ID. The cards would have info about my you tube channel,my name,reference to PINAC and CopBlock. The card should also say something about “being engaged in constitutionally protected activity safe guarded by the 1st amendment. However I would still make a stand and refuse to produce ID.

    • Carlos_Miller

      I agree with this. We shouldn’t be afraid to provide our names considering we are not afraid to use our names on the Internet as we post these videos.

      I’m always willing to hand them my business cards but I am even quicker to mention my name and site, which lets them know exactly who I am and what I am about without handing them my ID, which is a Constitutional violation.

      By giving them my name and business card, I treat them like any other citizen I come across on the street. Nothing more and nothing less.

      • steveo

        In every single police encounter that Carlos has had, I’ve never heard him refuse to give his name. actually he promotes his web site, which he should do, and he identifies himself which is expected of a person who is promoting a cause. This is a time to promote the expectation that the law protects the Constitution not to hate citizens who want to promote the Constitution.

      • Burgers Allday

        I like the idea about giving the inquisitive popos your name (verbally) and business card.

        I am glad you reported this story.

        I do wish that the videographer had talked a lot less in this Santa Ana video.

        Side note: today I blogged a court case where (it strongly appears that) a policeman destroyed audio recording evidence made by one of the policeman’s agents who ended up witnessing a violent police encounter. It is hard to tell if the policeman ended up in a better or worse position than if he had not destroyed the audio recording, but the court clearly didn’t like what the policeman did to the audio tape.

      • Fotaugrafee

        Carlos, I know a gentleman by the name of John A. in the Philadelphia, PA area who was harassed quite often for his 5 camera set-up while videotaping trains in that area. He has been approached by various city cops & railroad police alike. While still very passive (as most “rail fans” are), he did have business cards printed & hands them out whenever he gets the chance, IIRC.

        One such episode led to an encounter with a unit captain or something, and he has also name-dropped that officer’s name to a positive effect after it’s finally released that this fellow is of little harm, and only seeks to be a 1-man, various-angle, kind of videographer when partaking in his hobby.

        Business cards DO work. Providing your license allows for the LEO’s to search for you in their computers & whatnot by driver’s license number, etc. A business card simply gives them your name & possibly the city you dwell in (or last known address). None of which are too specific to do much with.

    • steveo

      With my copwatching experience, I’ve decided that I’m a partner with Law enforcement. Whether they want to go along with that or not. Leos need to follow their oath to the Constitution just like Jeff Gray says and copwatchers are helping them do just that. In my community, their behavior has changed amazingly since we’ve copwatched. I’m following up with public records request after learning more about the efforts of Joel and Robert Chandler and I believe that the public officials are taking notice. In every community, we have to keep up the monitoring because the police state will overtake us without activity.

  • HonorYourOath

    These cops are nothing but flat out criminal thugs. They are even more dangerous to our lives and liberty than drug gangs.

  • HonorYourOath

    Why did he turn the camera off!?!? I always carry my main camera and at least two back up cameras. I now have a camera that looks like a blue tooth ear piece ( not a looxie ). When I was arrested by Lawtey its notable that they did not remove my blue tooth when they searched me and put me in the back of the car. Actually they didn’t remove it until they were putting me in the holding cell. It’s to bad I didn’t have the ear piece camera back then.
    It’s important to have a hidden camera some where on your body and also in your car.

  • Seth William Banks

    Here in NH we’re building a strong community of liberty activists, many of whom are cop watchers. The community has become so strong in some areas that we’re able to warn each other of speed traps and checkpoints, and harassment by the cops of a member of the liberty community is often reported on within minutes. Learn some more about it at

  • Prefiero Figurados

    Carols: I would encourage you in the strongest terms to exercise caution on what you promote in PINAC. It makes me cringe when I see the “Eff da poh-leece” attitude and general douchebaggery exhibited in some of what get’s promoted. Please. Confrontationalism in hopes of instigating an incident (and please, let’s be honest, that’s what is happening in many of these cases) only makes things worse. Ask any experienced civil rights leader and/or look to successful civil rights movements and you’ll see that such behavior and attitudes always hurts and never helps any cause. From MLK to Ghandi, authoritarianism and disrespect (by LEOs in this context) was never matched tit-for-tat with any success. Successful civil rights movements never sink to the level of that which they opposed; you can’t fight what you hate by becoming it.

    So, Carlos, while I acknowledge the Constitutional right to be a jerk, I’m just as quick to point out that we don’t have to give a platform for someone to do so; we have YouTube, Twitter and other services for that. When you post/promote videos of hyper-confrontational persons and groups, it makes it hard for me to support. In my various civil rights activities (I support several, but won’t name them here because they’re not relevant) I always encourage fellow supporters to stay away from those persons and fringe elements that can cause more harm that good to the movement, or worse, subject the movement to embarrassment and risk alienating the broader public.

    Even the ACLU of Northern California — who could hardly be accused of not appreciating civil rights — recommends against handling the Santa Ana situation the way this videographer handled it. Their advice can be found here:

    I’m a PINAC supporter because I was harassed by a US Park Service employee who made a public incident by accusing me of unauthorized/prohibited “professional” photography for no other reason than my equipment was “too nice to be anything other than professional.” But, unlike the hyper-confrontational CopWatch guys, I treated the Park Service guy with respect and nothing came of the incident.

    • steveo

      what in the heck are you talking about, this site never denigrates the efforts of effective law enforcement, Are you some new troll,Phil? ? Tell us your background and your personal profile, in other words, Phil, give me your ID.

      • Prefiero Figurados

        Hi Steveo. No, no, I’m no troll. I commented a few times here in fact, and sometimes on FB, too. I think you missed what I was saying, and if I said it that poorly then I’ll either need to edit or remove my post. So let me try this again. I wasn’t taking about PINAC denigrating effective law enforcement, but rather the anti-LEO/cop-hater tone both in the comments (for which PINAC isn’t responsible of course) and in some of the videos posted wherein guys like the Santa Ana or the infamous dorm room incident were acting like complete asses toward the cop(s) — just egging them on to make an incident. The polar opposite, for example, was the case of an unobtrusive citizen who was harassed for doing video of Baltimore’s light rail trains. So my point is that PINAC should support effective professional law enforcement (I do) while exposing illegal and outrageous behavior by cops, security, etc. My point is that PINAC — and by extension those of us who support the same goals — can and should do so with caution for what is posted/promoted. Even you advised (below) not to “get into a street law argument with the Leo.” We agree! So, along those same lines, I’m urging caution at publicizing situations where guys not only get into street arguments with LEOs, but make matters worse by provoking such, and the getting all dramatic when the cops (surprise surprise) rise to the provocation.

        As for giving you my ID… if you were a cop on the street and the situation called for it, well, I would. Otherwise, no dice :-)

        • Luc

          If your masters agents demand ID you will comply… Sad.

        • Art

          Phil, you did use the term “hyperconfrontational” in describing the videographer in this video. If this is hyperconfontation, you haven’t seen much confrontation. He stood his ground but did not threaten, while they threatened and finally attacked. Stop cowering.

          • Fotaugrafee

            I think he means that the guy repeatedly referred to them as “pigs” around the 3:30 mark in the video.

        • JdLxx

          OK, Phil, I get that you’re not a troll, but I want to respond to your phrase “the anti-LEO/cop-hater tone … in the comments”. I’m sure you’d include my comments in that category, because I absolutely blast the state of policing in America today. But, I’m sorry, they have it coming. The oft-repeated meme that there are “just a few bad apples” is pure fantasy. The entire barrel is rotten: either a particular cop is a law-breaking criminal or he’s covering up for another who he knows full well is.

          There may be a few Mayberry’s left in some isolated pockets of America, but for the most part, cops are completely out of control, brutal, arrogant, destructive liars. They treat Mundanes (citizens who do not belong to the Pretorian class) as if we’re their slaves rather than their masters. It’s no use trying to sugar coat the situation.

          As for videographers who act provocatively, I agree that doing so weakens their position when cops go berserk. However, cops are paid to keep their cool in tense situations (something they almost never do, just one of the many ways they fall down on the job routinely). Also, who is the initiator of aggressive action? Ninety percent of the time, it’s the cops. Why shouldn’t a citizen tell a thug to “fuck off!” if the thug is harassing him illegally?

          This is no time for pussy-footing around. Cops have become dangerous criminals, and we must call them on it.

    • Pete Von Holle

      It doesn’t matter… They are pigs… They know they are pigs… They take money to oppress our freedom. They take your money, to oppress your freedom. Soon enough everyone will be behind bars. They harass, intimidate, beat, and imprison innocent people, but in a country that’s supposed to have free speech, we can’t call them names for being complete assholes?

    • Carlos_Miller

      Posting these videos is not necessarily “promoting” their behavior, it’s reporting the story.

      I think this guy kept it professional compared to some of the other videos I have posted. The cops were far from professional.

      It seems like you’re suggesting not to even report these stories because you don’t agree with the attitude of some of the individuals involved.

      But as I’ve stated repeatedly on this blog, having a bad attitude is not illegal even though it is used consistently as the basis for an arrest.

    • Luc

      Phil, different strokes for different folks. Quiet peaceful resistance gets you ignored, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If the Police get no flack they will continue SOP.

      Carlos, keep posting these kind of videos.

  • andyT

    I’d advise the videographer to get a windscreen for his camera.

  • Carlos_Miller

    I just received an email saying these are Santa Ana city cops, not Santa Ana School District cops.

    I’m not really sure. The video describes them as school cops but if they are city cops, I will make the change.

    • Luc

      At 3:35 Officer Nguyen patch reads Santa Ana School Police

      • Carlos_Miller

        Thanks, Luc.

  • Art

    It seems to me that having a camera recording to a remote location in real time would be a boon for all those videographers whose cameras are being either broken, or confiscated and then returned “deleted” by the LEOs. Perhaps this would take a close proximity remote location or an assistant in a vehicle unit. Does anyone know if this technology is available and what it entails?

    • dow daytrader

      ….there are several android and iphone applications that enable streaming via your smart phone’s data plan. …it’s not complicated or expensive…really have no idea why the programs are not linked to on this website. Simple, cheap, effective…3 attributes that are the opposite of any government program/ opposite of how any government employee thinks or processes information.

      • Art

        Thanks for the info, dow daytrader. Carlos Miller, would it be possible to put links to those applications on this site? I believe as people find out about these apps they will become very popular and useful. No more “missing evidence”.

        • Carlos_Miller

          I’m planning on introducing forums to this site within the next month with a variety of threads on different topics.

          Applications and technology will definitely be one of those threads where readers can post links to different apps along with their experiences.

    • FuckingPigs

      Luckily, with digital data, it’s all easily recovered even if they delete it.

  • YourTaxDollarsAtWork

    Regarding the debate below concerning providing ID to the police when requested: I suggest never providing ID unless required by law. That implies you must know your state law regarding “stop and ID” and failure to ID. Many states with so called “stop and ID” laws qualify when you must produce ID to include the police must have reasonable suspicion that you have, are, or are about to commit a crime. Reasonable suspicion always requires specific and articulable facts regarding the criminal suspicion. My suggestion to not provide ID when not required is to demonstrate to police you know your rights and will not be intimidated by unlawful orders. They are public servants, not public masters.

  • Hammie

    Rule number one. Never talk to the police. Giving your name the the police is talking to the police last time I checked.

    Good luck if you think you are smarter than Mr. James Duane and Mr. George Bruch.

  • Jay

    if I had been that guy, Id tell that troll Nguyen that I am now going to be walking on the sidewalk towards him to pass and DARE him to stop me…He has NO RIGHT to stop a citizen from walking on a sidewalk when that citizen has not committed a crime…The thing about these types of cops is they get off on harassing kids bc they know they can…Take the gun away and they are nothing more than criminal thugs needing their asses beat and it wouldnt be hard….Well, when these pigs start getting beat down by us citizens, they can either start a war or realize their tacctics are mor ein line with Soviet Russia than the USA…Fuck you Santa Ana pigs….Come do that on some adults and see you where that gets you stupid fucks…..pansy ass pigs

  • Boomer

    Unbelievable. Five of them. Five fully armed thugs, for one harmless man with a video recording device observing police activity. That’s a wonderful testament to how useless they really are. If there is so little actual criminal activity in their jurisdiction that five “officers” have nothing better to do than lie, repeatedly, and attempt to intimidate someone for merely observing their actions that they show up just to alleviate the boredom.

    What is it that Nguyen’s thug pal says – “I can’t wait…”? I could hear the rest. Anyone else?

  • jackobean

    they swarm every time. Citizens need to swarm w/ more cameras on the scene, letters, lawsuits…

  • $5860117

    “The videographer does a good job of standing firm throughout all this harassment but he apparently turned off his camera, which was when they grabbed him.”
    I guess we’d better NEVER turn off the camera. Sounds like complying with these illegal orders assures a beat-down.