Florida Man Proves How Citizens Can Single-Handedly Force Cops to Honor Their Oath


Risking arrest on several occasions, PINAC correspondent Jeff Gray proved how citizens can single-handedly ensure that law enforcement officials respect the rights of citizens to record in public.

Gray, who is also known as HONORYOUROATH on Youtube, was motivated by my incident on the Miami-Dade Metrorail in January where I was placed in a chokehold and dragged down an escalator because I refused to turn my camera off.


He started visiting the Jacksonville Transportation Authority Skyway, which is that city’s rapid transit system, to see how they react to photography.

Not surprisingly, he was told that photography was not allowed due to Homeland Security laws – even though there is no such law in the books.

He even called a spokesperson from JTA, who told him he was allowed to record within the stations as long as he gave prior notification, which is also absurd.

And more recently, he was threatened with arrest on trespassing charges if he did not stop recording. When he asked the Jacksonville sheriff officers for their names and badge number, they refused to provide that information to him.

Gray is persistent but polite so he ended up interviewing a Lt. Grant from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office who told him on camera that departmental policy requires officers to provide their name and badge number upon request.

Lt. Grant also said he had every right to record within the transit system because it was public property. Grant assured Gray that he would ensure officers that they be reminded of this fact.

Gray was skeptical so when he returned to the station the following week to test out their knowledge of the policy, he was received with open arms.

The sheriff officers he came in contact with not only readily provided their names and badge numbers, but told him some good areas within the train station where he could take some good photos.

While many people might think his efforts were a waste of time, Gray reminds us in the above video of what took place on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system in 2009 when a police officer shot a man named Oscar Grant in the back, only for it to be caught on video by at least two citizen cameras.

It was that evidence that led to the conviction of BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on manslaughter charges.

Had there been no video, he would no doubt have claimed that Grant was reaching for what appeared to be a weapon, which made him fear for his life.

So it’s important for us to establish our right to record the most mundane incidents on public train systems so there will be no doubt about our right when it really matters.


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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  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.pringle.3 Adam Pringle

    Lt. grant did a great job as a officer

  • Smoothjc1

    Jeff makes some of the best videos about interactions with police I have every seen .

  • Jeff Harris

    Nice work, as usual, Mr. Gray.

  • Andrew Meyer

    Great article Carlos, really productive stuff. I hope it motivates people to proactively educate the police.

  • rick

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

  • http://dailygrackle.wordpress.com NoelArmourson

    HonorYourOath did a great job as a citizen/journalist.

  • Jeffrey Marcus Gray

    Carlos, as always its an honor to be on PINAC! Thank you!

    I regret what I said near the end of the video about ” one person” can make changes when in reality it was quite a few people who made the change on JTA’s public transit system. Sure I put my tail on the line but I didn’t get near the punishment Carlos received from those 50 State security thugs and Carlos and all of you here on PINAC were my inspiration to do this in the 1st place. Also if not for Lt.Grant and other unnamed JSO Officers following through on my complaints the changes with off duty officers working for JTA would not have happened. Also my attorney Eric J Friday has really kicked ass for me not only with the events in this video but also with other situations I’ve had including when somebody called DCF on me.

    Thanks every body,

    • Rob

      Well done Jeff. Thank you very much for your efforts, and standing up for our rights. I appreciate you greatly, sir.

    • Boomer

      Bravo, Jeff. That was perfect. I only wish the two officers you initially encountered had been ordered by their Lt. to formally apologize. Knowing that will never happen, you’ve done a great service.

      Well done.

  • $22798478

    If you get an idea of who’s calling DCF on you then give us a name. I’ll bet anything it’s a cop. Get me a name (put it here) and they will have their own DCF worries.

    • Proud GrandPa

      Under federal law and thus state law DCF and similar agencies are required to reveal the source of the complaint and are not allowed to take action on anonymous complaints. The cannot get warrants etc. on anonymous tips alone.

      • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-Lawyer

        I don’t believe that’s correct. CPS in Texas never reveals the source of a complaint that I’m aware of.

        • Proud GrandPa

          You may right and I may have misunderstood some of the rulings. Would you please check this out and let us know?

          Mr. B v. Van Winkle et. al
          HSLDA sues
          social worker on behalf of member family

          Filed: July 12, 2005.

          Nature of Case: Mr. B is a divorced father who homeschools his two
          children. In the last year, two false anonymous tips alleging neglect of his children were filed against him. Both times, the Children Youth & Families Department investigated and declared the allegations to be unfounded. During the second investigation, when CYFD demanded that Mr. B allow his children to be interrogated out of his presence, a state police officer threatened to remove his children so CYFD could pursue their investigation.

          Status: In response to this complaint, the state completely changed
          its investigative procedures to ensure that anonymous tips will be treated in accordance with constitutional protects. The case has been settled in Mr. B’s favor.

          Last Updated: February 9, 2006

          And from state courts:

          7-16-03 — The North Carolina Supreme Court voted 7-0 that social services should not have even begun an investigation based on the anonymous report. In addition, three justices agreed that social services’ request to interview the children violated the Fourth Amendment.

          About the right to know the identity of accusers,

          In the Matter of R.
          Anonymous tip spurs Social Services investigation of homeschooling family

          Filed: January 24, 2003, Fairfax County.

          Nature of Case: The R. family was investigated by the Department of
          Social Services in January 2003. There were allegations of mental abuse and neglect centering on their adopted African-American daughter. The allegations included a claim that she was treated differently from the other children because of her race. The R. family met with Fairfax County social workers and allowed them to interview each of the children.

          Rulings: On March 3, 2003, the department sent a completed family
          assessment, advising them of their right to petition the Circuit Court to obtain the identity of the person who made the complaint. Because of our interest in testing this portion of Virginia CPS law, HSLDA agreed to assist Mr. R. in filing the petition. HSLDA filed the petition on April 26, 2003.

          Status: HSLDA submitted a proposed order to the judge on August 29,
          2003, after meeting with the family and deciding that the report, although false, was probably not made maliciously. The family decided to drop the petition. Closed.
          Ex-Cop, we are glad you are here and can address some of these issues. The HSLDA lawyers have defended CPS or DCF cases in which anonymous tips were believed by investigators causing much harm to innocent parents.

  • IHateFatChicks

    Most LE is corrupt, stupid, pathological liars, narcissistic sociopaths and troglodytes.

    • Proud GrandPa

      Most LE are honest, intelligent, compassionate straight-arrows, honorably-intentioned family men and educated.

      • IHateFatChicks

        You are truly clueless. 98% of LE has a high school diploma, maybe. LE jobs attract the type of emotional/mental trainwrecks that enjoy hurting people, abusing authority and lying to protect themselvs and their fellow officers who routinely engage in criminal activity. Stop being so alzheimer’s ridden delusional and pull your pinhead from your hind end, gramps.

        • Proud GrandPa

          98%, eh?
          Where did you come up with that statistic? Frankly, it just isn’t true. Most police officers are good people just like my family and me.
          You must have had some truly bad experiences in your life with authority and suffered for it. You would be a lot healthier and happier learning to forgive and to face the real cause of your attitudes. Until you do, you will continue to suffer inside every time you encounter authority figures whether at work, in politics, or in law enforcement.
          Please consider finding counseling and address events that are still hurting you. You can enjoy the rest of your life. You need this and will benefit from it. I am not trying to insult you, just hope good things for you.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-Lawyer

            He/she pulled it out of his ass.

            30% of officers work at a department that require some college. 10% of departments have a requirement for either a 2- or 4-year degree.

            That’s from the DOJ/BJS report.

          • IHateFatChicks

            Not true, mouthbreather.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-Lawyer

            LOL, that’s the best you can do? “Not true?”

            ROTFL. What’s the matter? Can’t look up the report from the initials? OK, I’ll lay out the whole reference for you.

            Brian A. Reaves, Local Police Departments: 2007 11 (2010), http://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/lpd07.pdf

            What that means is that the author is Dr. Reaves, followed by the title, the page it appears on, and the year published. I even included a link for you. Get one of your uncles to read it to you.

          • Barking Dog

            Is that a report like the FBI’s uniform crime stats? They aren’t allowed to say anything now matter how phony the stats they are given.

            Bloomberg gives the phoniest stats and then crows how the FBI claims this is the safest big city

          • Barking Dog

            NYPD requires college now.Most get a bogus online degree and can’t spell words like “sandal” and “cigar”

            I know because I used to page Queens Robbery Squad when I heard a robbery on the radio. They were grateful because they didn’t have to wait 2 weeks for a misspelled report with cross streets that don’t cross

            The courts upheld the non hiring of that brainy cop in Connecticut, said he was too smart!!!!

          • IHateFatChicks

            Yes, Gramps, I’m right. Being old with early onset alzheimer’s has really hurt you. I’m an Officer in the military with 3 uncles in the FBI and they say the same thing I do. You have no idea what you’re talking about and you’re, obviously, retired white trash LE. :) Lol

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-Lawyer

            So? West Pointer I imagine, since your facts are completely wrong.

            LOL, you do know that the FBI are not well respected among street officers, right? I’ve watched a couple of Feebie investigations and was not overly impressed on the street side, although their white collar and computer units are very good.

            Call back when you can cite facts from a reliable source with hard data.

          • IHateFatChicks

            Most street cops are violent, uneducated trash. It’s a fact.

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-Lawyer

            Troll somewhere else.

          • IHateFatChicks

            Ah, LE replies, how ironic. :) It’s a fact, that must be painful for you to understand and realize.

          • Barking Dog

            True. I collect the stories nationally.

          • Barking Dog

            Nonsense. All cops are liars and cheats and I can prove it,

            I’m involved in a case right now where 2 of the cops that had nothing to do with any criminal conspiracy became part of it by trying to make the person accepting the prisoner sign the phony paperwork of the conspirators.

            Every cop knows he must protect the dept, even if it means committing a crime

          • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-Lawyer

            LOL, yeah. 2=all. You know, they have remedial math classes at most community colleges.

      • Barking Dog

        And you know this because…..

  • former_JTA_Supervisor

    Bravo Mr Gray, out standing work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MargaretMenge Margaret Menge

    I’m a journalist in Palm Beach County, Florida, where a sheriff’s deputy threatened to arrest me if I didn’t delete a photograph that I took of him. Because I was with my son, and it was his third birthday, I complied. I went in and met with the captain a few days later and he took it very seriously, saying the deputy should have known he can be photographed or recorded at any time. I’ve filed an internal affairs complaint, and it is now being investigated. But the sergeant who is investigating told me yesterday that prior to 2012(!) they could force you to delete photos off your camera….that this right to photograph police officers is something new. I’m stunned. I’m guessing what he means is that the sheriff’s office got away with stopping photographers for years, and only recently has the memo gotten around that this really ISN’T ok. So…anyone know where I can find a good summary of case law on taking pics of police? I need to show the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office that this is not something new.

    • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-Lawyer

      Quick links are http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographers, http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/photography-the-first-amendment, http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf, and http://www.rcfp.org/reporters-field-guide.

      I can’t give legal advice. You need to talk to a lawyer for that.

      We have generally discussed on this blog the following cases that apply to Florida.

      From the Federal 11th Circuit Court:

      Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332, 1333 (11th Cir. 2000) (“The First Amendment
      protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and specifically, a right to record matters of public interest.”). This means that this was a clearly established First Amendment right that was recognized by the 11th Circuit in 2000, some 13 years ago. The 11th Circuit includes Florida.

      From the Federal District Court for Southern Florida:

      Abella v. Simon, 831 F. Supp. 2d 1316, 1345 (S.D. Fla. 2011), vacated on other grounds, 482 Fed. Appx. 522 (11th Cir. 2012) (“Here, Plaintiff was photographing a police officer in a public area, something he has a First Amendment right to do.”). This is the same federal district that covers Palm Beach.

      I’m sure there are some state cases, but the federal cases should be helpful.

    • Barking Dog

      Nonsense. He’s lying. Ask him what changed in 2012

  • Jon Quimbly

    Two things: 1) This shows that politeness helps, but, 2) Cops choose to arbitrarily interpret the law in their own favor.

  • tiny

    great work Jeffery, too bad not too many like you down here. i have asked others to join me with attempting to video some locations down here in south florida. as of yet had no replies to my offer. and i dont figure to get any, anytime soon. you handled your self very well with those confrontations, and backed off when it called for it. being alone has its limitations. it is very true there is strength in numbers, and down here it doesnt seem we have any numbers. well cept when the FEDS kidnapped a baby boy and shipped him back to cuba. hell for that they were in the street blocking all kinds of traffic. cept for those few, this section of the USA are full of gutless wonders, and most of them work as a LE!