South Florida Cops Confiscate Camera and Delete Footage, Claiming They Feared it was a Gun


A South Florida cop said he was in fear for his life when he snatched a man’s camera from his hand on Tuesday, handing it over to a second cop who deleted the video that had just been recorded.

The cops then kept the camera, handing Juan Santana a receipt where he was told he could pick it up later.

The Hialeah cop, later identified as Antonio Sentmanat, told Santana that he thought the Sony Bloggie camera was a gun.



“He told me that they have cameras with guns inside them,” Santana said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.

“He told me, ‘I don’t know if there is a gun inside that camera.'”

Santana, who weighs more than 500 pounds and is recovering from a car accident, had pulled up to Sentmanat in a three-wheel medical scooter on the street in front of his house in broad daylight and asked for his name and badge number.

“I wanted to report him to internal affairs because he pointed a gun at my friend and frisked him illegally,” Santana said. “I wanted to get his name on camera.”

Santana, a longtime PINAC reader who lives in Hialeah, a municipality in Miami-Dade County, said it all started when cops pulled in front of his house in two unmarked cars after spotting his friend, Manny Garcia, sitting on his front porch.

A cop wearing a SWAT t-shirt then hopped out of his car, pointed his gun at Garcia and ordered him to step onto the street.

Garcia, 18, had no idea what was going on, so he obliged. Once on the street, the cop began frisking him before releasing him, realizing he had nothing to do with the auto theft he was investigating.

Meanwhile, another friend who had witnessed the incident, ran inside the house to tell Santana what was going on.

Santana stepped out of the house and learned that police were actually looking for his tenant, who rents the efficiency behind his house.

Santana walked back to the efficiency and knocked on the door, asking his tenant to step outside and talk to the cops.

The tenant stepped outside and began talking to the cops without getting frisked or threatened with a weapon. They didn’t even bother asking for his identification at this point.

It turned out, the cops were investigating a report of a stolen car, which had been parked across the street from Santana’s house. The main suspect in the auto theft – who was already in custody – was a female friend of the tenant’s, who sometimes visited him.

But after a few questions, the cops determined the tenant had nothing to do with the stolen car, so they let him go.

Meanwhile, Santana was still upset that police had pulled a gun on his friend, especially when it became evident they had no need to pull a gun on anybody in that investigation.

So he rode up to the officer on his scooter and demanded his name and badge number.

“He said, ‘this is how we’re going to do this,’ and steps out of the car and grabs my wrist to take my Bloggie,” Santana said. “I tightened my grip and held on to it and he kept pulling at it.”

But when one of Santana’s friends walked up to the tug-of-war to get a closer look, Sentmanat reached for his gun.

“He told Keith to step back and that was when I released my grip,” Santana said. “I didn’t want my friend to get shot over a camera.”

Sentmanat handed the camera to the other cop who deleted the footage, before handing Santana a card saying he could pick up the camera later at the station.

Santana was so enraged he had his friend retrieve a second camera from inside his house, a Gumball 3000, which he placed around his neck and began recording as he argued with police over the camera confiscation.


The video is hard to follow visually because Santana was recording discretely but the audio confirms that cops confiscated the camera because one cop tells Santana that “he doesn’t know what you’re intentions are” in defense of Sentmanat, who is pictured above.



Later that night, Santana went to the police station with some friends to retrieve his camera, but was told he would have to wait at least five days for the report to be completed.

He plans on returning tomorrow.

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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  • Rob

    Hurry up and delete that footage before it kills somebody!

  • sickntired

    today’s cop are thugs and P*ssy all at the same time.. lets not forget how stupid some are..

  • FTP

    That’s OK crooked cops,……because one of our Brothers in Arms slaughtered one of YOUR brother thugs up in Virginia today. Eye for an Eye mutha fucker ! The war is coming, and it’ll be a treat watching you little pussy’s REALLY being in fear for your life.

  • bzflagkilljoy

    I’m tired of hearing that a camera might have a gun. A pen might have a gun in it, and is in fact more likely to have a gun in it than a camera. A police officer has to have some reasonable grounds to believe that the camera is not a camera. We need to get a definite court decision swatting this somehow.

    • Difdi

      A camera may have a gun in it. But that cop’s uniform definitely has an ass in it.

  • Eric B Photo

    WTF FTP? What kind of site do you think this is? Advocating photography is not a crime is not even related to thinking it’s okay to shoot someone with a gun. Education is the key here not more violence.

  • rick

    Awesome! Let’s list all the ways you can be stopped from legally recording the police:
    Interfering, obstructing, wiretapping, loitering, “this is private property”, seizing camera as evidence, “It’s illegal to film”, and my new favorite, “I don’t know if there is a gun inside that camera.”

    • Varuka Salt

      Except that none of the things you mentioned are legal ways for the police to make you stop recording. There are exactly 0 legal ways for the cops to stop you from recording.

      • Veruca

        Your grade for today’s reading comprehension lesson: F

      • anony

        Exactly! Your legal conduct will be stopped in any way possible. There are examples of police respecting your right to record and I applaud them.

    • Difdi

      Well, you don’t know that’s really a cop either. It could be a police impersonator, after all.

      Everyone knows that police are highly trained, heroic professionals, so you can reasonably claim you thought that someone in a police uniform acting unprofessionally must be an impostor.

      • Ian Battles

        Would….would that hold up in court? I wonder…

        • Difdi

          Letter of the law? At least as well as officer “mistakes” on what the law really says or a claim to believe that a cellphone might be a gun.

          In practice? It would be rejected almost instantly by the courts.

          The courts have a serious double standard these days. People are referring to it more and more as High Court and Low Court, in reference to the bad old days in Europe. Nobles who committed crimes would be tried by a very lenient High Court, with sentences along the lines of small fines for murder. Commoners would get the Low Court, where stealing a loaf of bread could result in 20 years of hard labor or execution. We’re not there yet, but the courts seem to be heading that way, with the special treatment that government officials get.

          Police are assumed to be highly trained expert observers who would never dream of lying, sometimes even if proven otherwise. Private citizens are assumed to be faulty observers who lie at whim. And yet, police can get away with mistakes and ignorance as an excuse, while non-police generally can’t.

          • io-io

            That is why re-training does not work, while arrest, trial, convection and prison is a much better alternative. Anything but Equal Justice is no Justice at all.

    • steveo

      also harassment and stalking, trespassing, and being a “material witness”.

      • Difdi

        Being a material witness requires a warrant to that effect. Not that a bad cop lets the lack of a warrant or being wrong about what the law says stop him.

  • Jon Quimbly

    I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t the cops have gunned him down, or at least arrested him on felony assault w.deadly weapon charges?

  • Lefim

    Hmm, is there a legal magazine capacity limit on that SunDisk, since SunDisks are detatachable?

  • Cville

    Gun in a camera? Sound like something a security guard would come up with, not a cop.

    • phred

      What makes you think cops are smarter than your typical security guard?

  • Kyle Macarthur

    That stupid Russian youtube video still has police both believing and advancing the lie that cellphones can be guns… However, that old video was taken back in the days when cellphones were much larger and bulkier. A smartphone is what it is, and a cop lies to make it something else…

  • Adam Barker

    Since when does Sony make weapons?

  • Difdi

    So they thought the camera was a gun, confiscated it, and immediately began pushing buttons and flipping switches on it in their attempts to delete the footage…

    If it actually HAD been a gun, odds are they’d have accidentally fired it.

  • Michelle Rogers

    Who would want dishonest cops on their force. This guy needs to be fired. Why is it seemingly so accepted by superiors and prosecutors that police officers lie, and often the lies are preposterous, as in this case?

  • Tijuana Joe

    “He told me that they have cameras with guns inside them,” Santana said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
    Cops told me that too! Right after the lecture about how Santa Claus is real and
    how the stork delivers babies.

    • Difdi

      I wonder if we could hold police at camera point and demand to inspect their guns to see if they are concealing cameras inside of them?

  • himself

    I dunno, its beginning to sound like everyone needs to buy one of those spy pen cameras and carry it in your shirt pocket at all times. You know the ones were the lens is just above the clip and so tiny you can’t see it unless you stick your nose against it? That would make a great second camera for recording the whole exchange when they snatch your “real” camera. Just an idea.

    • Difdi

      Be careful of doing things like that in places like Massachusetts. Public photography is perfectly legal there, but hidden cameras remain a felony.

      • rick

        I would believe that here is where announcing “I am recording” really pays off.

        If the police illegally seize your cell phone then the spy camera is still running. Even better, there is an unimpeachable record of public notification being given of your activities.

        • Difdi

          Massachusetts has some truly goofy judges running around. The cop believing he has stopped you from filming by seizing the obvious camera might be ruled to be enough to render further photography surreptitious.

          • rick

            To prosecute they would have to submit your recording as evidence. The very same evidence that shows the illegal police conduct! Imagine them arguing that your constitutionally protected activity was infringed upon by the PD and suddenly became a felony crime because you had a second camera.

            As an aside, immediately after the phone seizure follow up with, “Hey you took my cell phone! I am recording you!” Chances are they would ignore the ‘lazy’ grammar and you now have a second public notification of your actions.

          • Difdi

            So? All that needs to happen then is for the cop to be granted immunity by the prosecution in exchange for his testimony against you for the wiretapping.

            I read about a case a few years back (I can’t find the link) where the victim of forcible rape was charged with statutory rape because her “victim” was below the age of consent and she was not. The rapist was given immunity in exchange for his testimony against her and no charges were filed against him. If a prosecutor can be that far out of line and remain a prosecutor, giving a cop immunity for unlawful seizures would be easy.

  • Love To Push Those Buttons

    Wait until everyone wears a google glass. MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • rich

    This is what probably happened he captured a undercover cop on film, they stole his camera because they know he is does not have the financial means to do a dam thing about it , the state probably have a hook in him for something elsevand if he fights they will use criminal coercion to keep his mouth shut about it. They have gones he didnt end of story.

    • rich


  • TaleSlinger

    Regrettably, while the police were acting illegally in taking the camera and will face no consequences, Santana acted illegally by surreptitiously recording the police in Florida, and when the police see this, they will file charges. That’s liable to be an interesting ongoing case for a while.

    • Carlos_Miller

      Those cops had no expectation of privacy, so that argument is moot.

      • steveo

        Carlos is correct. Hidden recording of leos in public in FL does not violate section 934 which is FL’s interception of communication(s) law. I can count maybe 10 or so cases where citizens have been charged with eavesdropping for recording cops in public in FL. The results are arrests 10, convictions 0, trials 0, charges passed on or nolle pros by prosecutors 10. Prosecutors all over the state are advising leos not to arrest videographers for 934 and advising them that they are likely to lose a civil case if they do.

        Also, in this case the leos would have to secure an arrest warrant and there are no prosecutors that would allow it.

        • Difdi

          If you tried something like that in Massachusetts however, you could have a problem.

          • Joshua B.

            Don’t think so. Glik was recording openly, of course, but cops have no expectation of privacy in public, so even if you were recording surreptitiously in Massachusetts I doubt a wiretapping charge wouldn’t stick.


            Doubt the charge WOULD stick, that should say. damn iphone

          • darksideblues42

            As a resident of Massachusetts, I can confirm that you cannot “secretly” record police in performance of their duties. Glick affirmed that you can record openly, but did not touch on the secret aspect of the statute.


            There was recently where a local man (Local to me anyway) had his passenger record an officer during a traffic stop in a secret manner. This case is still pending.


          • Joshua B.

            The point is that officers have no expectation of privacy in public, ever, regardless of whether they know they are being recorded. The fact that the recording is secret has no effect on the constitutional (First Amendment) analysis. I would be shocked if a conviction for secretly recording Massachusetts cops can survive a First Amendment challenge. Note that a defendant in a similar case in Illinois was acquitted, although not on constitutional grounds. See

          • Joshua B.

            Note also that the issue in Glik v. Cunniffe was whether the officers violated a clearly established constitutional right by arresting Glik without probable cause. The court held at pp. 23-24 that the officers DID arrest Glik without probable cause and violated a clearly established right, because he was openly recording them and the statute prohibited SECRET recording. The court did NOT hold that an arrest for secretly recording would be constitutional.

          • darksideblues42

            You are correct, they (The court) did not hold that an arrest for secretly recording would be constitutional however, they did not really say anything about the secret provision codified within the statute or how it related to any Constitutional protection.

            The key issue they ruled on is that apparent knowledge of being recorded (Someone holding out a Cell-phone which any reasonable person knows can record video as well as audio) is enough notice to remove the “secret” aspect of the wiretap law from the equation and render the statute non-applicable to the arrest of Simon Glik, and the officers “should have known” that because he was holding such a device in plain sight, the secret provision did not apply, and they had no cause to arrest him, which is why Qualified Immunity was ordered waved in this case.

            The fact remains that absent a clear judicial ruling to the contrary, or an act of the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, secretly recording ANYONE, (Police included) is a violation of the Massachusetts Wiretap statute and is an offence with cause for arrest.

          • Difdi

            Read the decision. The court left the law intact on secret recording, they just struck down the expectation of privacy in public part.

  • Scott Batchelor

    I have not seen a camera gun since the 1980s, not that the tiny cell phones of today couldn’t be weapons, but the gun in a camera argument in this case was obvious bullshit. They lied to take his property and delete evidence of their wrongdoing, just like a criminal would do. There are cameras on the market that can be hidden or secured to the body so that they are not seen or send direct to a secure location so the evidence is preserved with date, time, and gps stamp. This is the sort of tool that citizens should use against these thugs. A direct source feed of the recording to your lawyer, friends, news, whatever you choose would secure your side of the story and keep your evidence intact.

    • Difdi

      There are iPhone cases that have electric prods in them but it’s hard to imagine something as small as a modern phone with an effective gun built in.

    • steveo

      I guess if I was an investigator asking the leo about the encounter: “What did you do when you discovered that the device was a camera? You gave it back right?”

    • Heywood Jablowme

      ’nuff said!! This is one of MANY that have been confiscated by law enforcement throughout the U.S.

      • rick

        Now go look at the Sony above…
        Once again, “Officer, when you saw it wasn’t a gun did you return it?”

  • Uncle Arty

    Wait these are the ppl gov’t says is safe to arm, and civilians (who would never mistake that camera for a gun) can’t be trusted? Lets assume just for a second they are actually telling the truth for once and they really did think it was a gun, what other mundane everyday accessory would they confuse with a gun? Do you really feel safe if this kind of incompetence (or Dishonesty) armed and given so much leeway? Remember all those Nazi Brown Shirts? They didn’t think what they were doing was wrong either, question is are we going to wait for history to prove them all wrong or are we going to do something to correct them now?

  • Markus El Chacal

    anybody have the phone number for the cop? i’d like to call him and tell him what i think of his lies.

  • Adam

    EGADS!!! Just saw this article this morning. A 100 mile border that is considered constitution free in the United States.

    • Rob

      Yeah, that’s been floating around for a while now. Always make sure that your phone is locked with a password, or pin, and that your laptop is password protected and encrypted. A cop cannot compel you to unlock your phone or laptop without a warrant, and even if they did have one, I personally would refuse to comply. Fuck ’em.

  • greg

    Dealing with criminal gangs 101: don’t interact with other gang members. In this case, that means reporting the case to the FBI, not Internal Affairs.

  • TA

    I don’t own a gun, but I would love to see someone photo their cell phone taped to a gun with the captions THIS IS A CELL PHONE GUN.
    Any questions?

  • Sav Us

    new to pinac. keep up the Great Work!!!

  • Mama Mela

    LMFAO….Fat Ass on a scooter got slapped in his face with a giant morronga! hahahahaha…ESTUPIDO!

  • Granny Grunch

    The agency says it all……Hialeah PD…nothing more can be said..we all know what they are….

  • tiny

    anyone want to take another shot at the SECURITY on the metro-snail, let me know. them sob’s with the company 50 STATES or something, they still even there? if i get only 2 to join me, ill go. almost any day, any time. anyone???

  • desertspeaks

    any cop who thinks a gun “might” be inside of a camera is either mentally unstable and should not be in possession of a gun or a badge. OR he’s and insane LIAR!!

  • the sage

    Hialeah is a very corrupt department. All manner of illegal enterprises run by the police. They simply don’t want anyone to film what they do. It is like a mafia. Take you out back in the alley and shoot you in the back of the head if necessary without even blinking.

    • Ze’ Cat

      Most Broward/Miami-Dade departments are corrupt.