California Cop Once Again Abuses Authority by Harassing Photographer


A California cop who made national headlines last year when he arrested a man for video recording him in public, throwing the man in jail for four days, once again abused his authority by harassing another photographer.

But this time, we can see that not all the officers from the Hawthorne Police Department have an issue being video recorded.

And we can also see that not even a pending lawsuit has prompted Sgt.  Gabriel Lira to change his unlawful ways. The latest video was posted earlier today by a man who goes by Katoosha2006 on Youtube. It was recorded on Friday.

Gabriel Lira


He was standing on a sidewalk near where several cop cars had congregated and was told by Lira he had to move further away, even though it was clear that area of the sidewalk was not cordoned off.

However, moments earlier, another cop had walked up to him and asked a few questions, but never once told him he did not have the right to stand there recording.

I sent the video to Daniel Saulmon, the man who spent four days in jail last year after video recording Lira making a traffic stop, and he confirmed it was the same man.

Saulmon is suing the Hawthorne Police Department over that arrest, which can be seen in the video below. He has posted several videos where he talks about his lawsuit.


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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  • REALConservative

    Cop wins.

  • CANON-ist

    In many countries laws are ambiguous. In the U.S., some deoasebit laws are restrictive and approve its police power. In Europe .. Observe in part certain rights and freedoms.

  • Proud GrandPa

    Interesting. Carlos, can you conceive a PBA defense for this cop should his supervisor question him? I believe his PBA union representative would say something like this: Yes, another officer at an earlier stage of the arrest allowed the photoog to stand at location X on this diagram. Later the investigators observed a growing crowd and took appropriate action at that time. Later the investigation grew to an expanded crime scene. LEOs acting in good faith may differ in how and where to ask spectators to stand.
    The supervisor would be unable to take further action. No IA action either.
    What would be helpful would be clearer laws defining distances and conditions. Fine, but perhaps impossible.

    • steveo

      Well, yeah, they are called time, place and manner restrictions. The LE agency has to prove that they restricted the content of the recording because of TPM. An emergency obviously can qualify and an active crime scene where evidence could be contaminated. But barring those two, the LE agency would have a tough time proving that the censorship was because of TPM restrictions, especially when there is no legal perimeter being set up. A police roadblock doesn’t count toward TPM restrictions, if there is no emergency.

      Even in the case of the search for the skinny 19 year old bomber in Watertown, MA, I believe that the leos went overboard with TPM restrictions, but the press let them get away with it. Same thing 20 years ago with Waco, the leos only let the press get images from in front and didn’t allow them any entry with any distance from the rear. Maybe there wouldn’t be so many conspiratorial theories if leos just let the press do their job and didn’t restrict content.

      Leos are always saying that they are “worried” about the journalists’ safety. Maybe somebody knows, when was the last time a photo-journalist was shot with a bullet or bombed because they were doing their job (in the US)? I think the last one was Ruben Salazar (March 3, 1928 – August 29, 1970)[1] was a Mexican-American journalist killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy. Sheriff probably killed him because he feared for his safety.
      William Biggart was killed during the 9/11 collapse of the Trade Center buildings, but I’m not sure that the leos had time or the will to run off journalists for that. And some journalists were murdered but not when they were actively covering a news story.

  • steveo

    I’m putting together an instructional video on how to stop police roadblocks. As soon as I get it done, I’ll post it here. Just one defense attorney in our county was able to have 11 DUI checkpoints declared unconstitutional, and he didn’t even have a videographer. The Sheriff hasn’t operated one in two years.

    The videographer in the second clip is in the right location although he needs to focus on the area where the leos are stopping the cars. Recording the FST’s might help that one driver, but it won’t help the defense attorney’s motion to suppress evidence in the event that the checkpoint violates the proposed operational plan (OP). If the leos run the videographer off from this area where he can record the cars being stopped from at least a distance of 30 ft on a public sidewalk that is certainly a violation of freedom of the press and a prior restraint.

    The leo who was trying to run the videographer off, was a sgt. so I would have asked him, if he was the supervisor of the roadblock, he probably wasn’t, but he might have told the journalist that he was. That alone could be grounds to motion the court to suppress evidence. Because the OP supervisor has to be at the roadblock from start to finish. The most important factor that the courts look at with these roadblocks is that the leos at the checkpoint can have absolutely no discretion on the operation of the roadblock. Leos aren’t used to that and you can be confident that they’ll violate the OP sometime during the event.

    • rick

      Also, there need to be conspicuous signs of upcoming roadblock, a preceding intersection to allow drivers to detour checkpoint, a clear protocol for which cars to check, and public notices of when and where checkpoints will be.

      • steveo

        Yeah, every State is a little different, like FL, because roadblocks here are governed by case law and not legislation. There are 3 cases in FL that control police dui/safety roadblocks. Jones v. State, Campbell v. State and Guy v. State. Here the courts really rely on the written operational plan that is supposed to be provided prior to the roadblock and has to be specifically written for that particular roadblock and not some general “this is how we do it, normally” operational plan. Using the inch and mile rule, Leos and even the top commanders will write an operational plan that far exceeds their authority, sometimes even with the help of the state attorney.

        Give you a for instance: 2 years ago, the Sheriff wrote an OP that directed the leos to ask every driver where they were coming from and where they were going to and the OP instructed the leos to arrest drivers for 843.02 if they refused to answer (when exactly did we give up the right to remain silent?). After the roadblock weekend was done, the court shot the entire event because of this one thing. Every arrest and ticket had to be undone. Think how much that pissed of the county clerk. And not only that, they arrested two drivers who had been arrested 4 times previously for DUI and they walked. With roadblocks, you can nearly always count on the leos to f this up.

        • rick

          In addition there is NO requirement to provide a drivers license at DUI checkpoints.
          A DUI checkpoint allows me to be stopped and asked the question, “have you had anything to drink tonight?” As I understand it this is all they can do.
          At this point I should well be within my rights to say nothing and stare straight ahead until I get the okay to leave. Probably should throw in a few “am I free to go?” for good measure.

          This is the same issue I take with immigration checkpoints. I can be stopped and asked the question, “are you a US citizen?” but after that they should have no power over me if I choose to remain silent.

          • steveo

            actually, it’s better not to answer any questions, if you answer one and not the others then they can use that issue to say you were acting “suspiciously”. It’s better to avoid these things, totally. Watch the newspapers, the police beat and even on the leos websites they’ll announce the deployment of a checkpoint. Same thing when they ask, “Are you a US citizen? ” Is it possible that that question might be incriminating? Yeah, if you aren’t a citizen, then you don’t have to answer. Just sit there and don’t say anything, so far, they haven’t resorted to beating us because we don’t talk to them.

            In my town, an 18 yr old was arrested and booked for DUI. This wasn’t a ckpt, but he was 0.00 on the breath and the urine was clean. His lawyer sued the town and he got 10K. Most times lawyers will never sue for this, so leos don’t usually care if they arrest somebody for DUI who isn’t impaired. But it does show you that the courts will back you up for false arrest, if you are totally sober and they use their “contempt of cop” crap.

          • rick

            Then the order to move to secondary or exit your vehicle comes along and then you are really screwed. The constitutional ‘small inconvenience’ is now an hour being put through the wringer.
            Keep asking, “am I free to go?” and as always record.

          • steveo

            I think one huge problem in America is the 95% rule. 95% of the people that the police come in contact with do whatever they say without question. So, when they confront a citizen who relies on basic Constitutional rights, they go ballistic or at least they get highly agitated. They just aren’t used to someone who knows their rights.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            True. That was one of the hardest things to explain to my officers. For example, in Texas there is no offense for “disobeying a lawful order” (not including city ordinances). I had one officer who would repeatedly tell me that they didn’t obey his orders. I always replied “So?” He just couldn’t understand that without an offense for it, there is nothing he can do, unless there was another charge.

  • Cruella DeVille

    This is getting out of hand. While real criminals are out there committing crimes, innocent people who are not breaking ANY LAWS are being put in jail, threatened with jail or beaten up. A robbery could be going on down the street yet they are so concerned with this?
    Great to see where our tax dollars go. I feel like MY tax dollars should be going towards proper education and training to LEO’s as they currently seem so lost on what rights we as citizens have!

    • steveo

      Leo departments wouldn’t do these roadblocks if they didn’t get federal grants. Most of these federal grants came as a result of MADD lobbying efforts. What MADD doesn’t get though is that if these leos were patrolling, they would detain 3 times as many impaired drivers. Leos generally work 3 12 hour days per week and they have a set schedule as to what areas they have to cover. So an event like this is OT, where they call the leos in on their days off for 5 or 6 hrs, which most of them want to do because this is just gravy money. Figure they try to pack in 30 or 40 leos from various agencies at about $100 per hour for 5 hrs that’s 500 times 40 or $20,000 for usually 2 or 3 arrests for DUI.
      Also, Hawthorne area leads LA now in the number of murders. Good use of law enforcement funds.

      • Cruella DeVille

        When I said the comment on the use of tax dollars I was not talking about the DUI checkpoints. That’s not what Carlos article was about. My point was these officers, and not just this particular division, as we see numerous posts about LEO’s harrassing and threatening arrest of citizens filming or photog-ing. That’s where I’d like to see some tax dollars going, to their education and training of our rights to film or photograph. I thought that was pretty clear.

  • steveo

    The FST’s are also pretty humorous. There are only 3 FST that are approved by the NHTSA, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one leg stand and the 10 step walk and turn. This leo does a completely inaccurate nystagmus test, you don’t move the pen around in a circle (horizontal gaze), and then he has her stand there with her head up (not sure what that is) and then he does the outdated and unscientific finger to nose test. Then he has her do a hand held breath test which is illegal in my state FL and can not be entered into evidence and can’t be used for probable cause. And you can see that he arrested her anyway, so why do any of it? Why don’t they do the bend over and moon test, where they have you pull down your pants and bend over and see if you can keep your balance. Or the Steve Martin, Walk-This-Way test, where you have to completely duplicate the contortions of the leo walking.

    Big surprise that the leo doing the humorus FST’s was the same one running off the journalist.

    • ExCop-Lawyer

      The additional HGN steps are used in the DRE program, especially the one moving towards her nose. It checks for convergence. The finger to nose is also validated for the DRE protocol.

      I never did the DRE program, but was a certified SFST instructor, and one of the other SFST instructors I worked with was DRE certified.

      The handheld preliminary breath test (or PBT for short) is authorized in a number of states, but usually the officer can only testify that it was positive (or negative) for the presence of alcohol.

      • steveo

        Just read the 12 steps for the DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) protocol. Why would anyone subject themselves to that? Are people completely out of their minds?
        “The DRE takes the subject’s blood pressure, temperature and pulse.” “Examination for Muscle Tone ” What??
        ” Asks the subject a series of questions regarding the subject’s drug use.” Yeah, officer, I shoot heroin three times a day and I just did two speed balls before driving out here.” Is that illegal?

        • ExCop-Lawyer

          Not if the idiot answers voluntarily, which most do.

          In all my time on the street, working a lot of DWIs, I had 4 people refuse to do the SFSTs. Everyone else did them. Almost everyone answered questions.

          So I would get the evidence I needed, and put them in jail.

          So yes, people are out of their minds to do the SFSTs and answer questions.

          • steveo

            The 95% rule. Most people will do whatever the leo says and answer all the questions. When Miranda was decided the leos went crazy about that, but it didn’t make any difference at all. I think most criminals want to tell the police what they did.

  • rick

    Taking a Field Sobriety Test is like talking to the police…you don’t have to do it.

    I’m willing to bet the breathalyzer can be refused also since a moving traffic violation didn’t precede the detainment. Luckily I don’t live in a DUI checkpoint state, so don’t quote me on that.

    • steveo

      A good rule of thumb is and this is from a top DUI attorney. Everything prior to the handcuffs going on is voluntary.

      • ExCop-Lawyer

        Yeah, don’t do any sobriety tests and don’t talk to them.

  • steveo

    The first clip says that after about 1hr of filming… So, I’m thinking that the videographer was filming the roadblock prior to the sgt leo telling him to stand in an area where he couldn’t film the roadblock. There is no realistic time,place or manner restriction here and this is total Leo censorship.

  • Ian Battles

    How much money will this town allow this officer to cost them in lawsuits?

  • JeromeMac

    How could that cop not have been fired after that first arrest? Would a cop even be fired if he burned down the local newspaper office?