Another Cop Claims Cell Phone Camera Could be Gun


A California Highway Patrol officer is the latest cop to claim he was in fear for his life when a citizen was video recording him with a cell phone, further confirming that this is a new training tactic to prevent people from recording them.

The motorcycle officer, whose last name is Sherman, pulled over a motorcyclist for a license plate infraction.

The man began video recording with his cell phone after he had stepped off the bike.

The officer ordered him to put the phone down and the man asserted his right to record.

“I’m telling you to put your phone down because it’s a safety issue for me, ok,” Sherman said.

“I’ve seen cell phones that are possibly could be guns. That’s why I’m telling you to put your phone down.”

“I’ve never heard of such a thing, sir,” the man responded. “But I respect that.”

The man, however, continued recording.

“Well, I have,” the cop said. “It’s my job to know this stuff, all right.

“We have regular safety briefings on this kind of stuff.”

Last month, a San Diego police officer said the same thing before he arrested a man for refusing to put his phone down as he was getting cited for smoking a cigarette on a beach boardwalk.

And since then, a Newark, California cop ordered a man to place his hands behind his back because he refused to let her hold the phone to confirm it wasn’t a gun.

So apparently it’s a west coast trend but there have been other instances in South Florida and in Arkansas as well.

In the above video, the exchange takes place in the first minute of the video and the rest of the video is uneventful until the 9:00 minute mark when they begin debating again.



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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  • rick

    The only thing threatened is your credibility Officer.

    • Fotaugrafee

      That, and his intelligence. I mean, who the fuck confuses a cell phone for a pistol. What is this, a goddamn James Bond movie?

      • $22798478

        Americans around the country are under attack by lunatic cops that think they own us. FUCK THE POLICE & FILM THE POLICE ! I was hoping in this video that this cop was run over by a dump truck when he pulled out. Hopefully next time !

  • Saul B

    “And I have seen cops who abuse their power and lie about their actions, so we’re even.”

    • Rail Car Fan

      All “Badge Bully” cops do that, along with most of their brothers and sisters in blue!! Did you expect anything different..!!..?

      Rail Car Fan

  • Rob

    Bullshit like this is why people hate cops so much, and don’t trust them at all. My response to the cop, as soon as he told me to put my phone down for “safety reasons” would have been “go fuck yourself”.

    • rick

      A better response, “you sure are calm if you think I am holding a gun” or “you sure are calm if you fear for your safety.”

      • Proud GrandPa

        Good responses. Easy remembered and easily recorded for use later in court.

    • Proud GrandPa

      Most people definitely admire and respect most police officers in my rather extensive circle of friends. I believe I speak for most Americans when I say that ours are among the best police in the world.
      I refuse to allow a distinct minority of bad cops to reflect upon all. I strongly support photo rights and free speech rights… especially of controversial and religious speech, and find that once cops learn the law, they comply.
      Sometimes a little education is enough to win. What did Abe Lincoln say? “You attract more flies with a drop of honey than with a gallon of vinegar.”
      Just saying…

  • Phred

    If he thought it was a gun, he would have confiscated it for the duration of the stop. Clearly this is just a tactic to stop the recording.

    What gets me is that that cops trot out that tired old line of, “you’ve got nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.” Yet when that line gets turned back on them, they go bat-crap crazy.

    • Cecilsan

      Except he didn’t stop him from recording nor did he turn off the camera. While he didn’t prefer to be on camera thats not the same thing as preventing him from recording.

      • Difdi

        If a police officer issues an oral order backed by his official authority to stop exercising a constitutional right, he has committed a federal crime worth a year in prison (18USC242).

        The bar for what constitutes official infringement of a right is set rather low.

      • Freedom_Fighter_of_America

        It is the same thing as preventing him from recording, he has a right to record anywhere he can see and the officer told him to put the camera down and wouldn’t let him control HIS camera. He has no authority to order him to put it down first off. Secondly, if he can’t record the officer by order of putting the phone down and the officer moving out of view of the camera, then yes, he is being prevented from recording.

        • Cecilsan

          First, while I don’t know the exact legality of the order to put down the camera, I’m sure in court it would come down to how well the officer could articulate “officer safety” and how well a judge/jury would accept it. Unfortunate as it is, not all laws are clear cut and it comes down to interpretation and how well they can word it in court.

          Second…what?! Your right to record does not state your subject must legally stay within your cameras view at all times. The officer did not direct him on where to face the camera nor did he tell him his has no right to record (in fact he stated he didn’t mind the recording).

          No matter if you agree with officer safety or not, he articulately stated his reasons for asking him to put down the camera. None of which have anything to do with the right to record.

  • Tijuana Joe

    They can also seize your sign or poster if you protest for any cause.

    After all, it might be an RPG., right?

    • Jon Quimbly

      The NYPD bars anything stick-like at protests in NYC. The closest you can do is a cardboard tube. Absurd.

  • steveo

    I wear my camera around my neck, it’s like a flip phone which has been discontinued, it’s a Samsung, not sure what the model number is, waterproof, shockproof and holds a micro sd card cost $87 and I have a landyard for it. It really helps to be handsfree around the leos. I think the lookcie would be better but I don’t have the money for one. In most cases, it’s more important to capture the audio than the video, but it some shit starts happening and you can get the camera in position to film without getting shot, I think this is the way to go. Kind of like a vievu only less expensive and easier to move around.

    They don’t mistake the landyard camera for a gun, they think it’s a cellphone. I’ve gone in and out of the courthouse and public offices with it on the landyard and I’ll turn it on if I have to, one button to turn it on.

  • Fourth Amendment

    So not only are you guilty before found innocent, police training doesn’t require some kind of weapons identification course, and when the cop himself refers to the item as his “phone”, doesn’t that mean the cop acknowledges it’s not a weapon? Cops love to lie, and they act like it’s cause it’s part of the job… Well, so’s getting shot at I guess…

  • Joel Turner

    “Well, I have,” the cop said. “It’s my job to know this stuff, all right.”
    “We have regular safety briefings on this kind of stuff.”

    If you know your stuff officer whistle dick then you’d know that a .22 short is approximately
    .695 of an inch overall length or about 5/8th of and inch, while a Samsung S4 is .311 thick or about 1/4 an inch not nearly thick enough to contain a barrel and mechanism to fire a projectile. Every time they do this file a complaint with the mayor that the officer needs retraining because the are proving they do not know their job.

    • Cecilsan

      While its not common for an actual cell phone to BE a gun, you may want to check out

      The Double Tap is a .45ACP/9MM that has a 4 round capacity. Lets look its dimensions compared to the Samsung S4 and say Iphone 3G (Iphone 5 is similar to Samsung)

      (H= height, W= width, T=thickness)
      Samsung S4 = 5.39H x 2.75W x .31T
      Iphone 3G = 4.5H x 2.4W x .48T
      Double Tap = 5.5H x 3.9W x .66T

      Obviously the DT is bigger overall…but really, not by much and especially not at a distance. Also these specs on the phone do not include a case. Add an Otterbox or similar to those phones and watch it balloon up.

      I bet with some cardboard and stuck on graphics, I could make it look pretty damn close to a phone in a protective case at a distance. After that, its pretty damn easy to figure a way out how to reach the trigger.

      Again, while its very very unlikely that an officer in the US will run up against a gun designed to be a James Bond accessory that operates like a cell but also is a gun. Its entirely possible to make it something you could overlook.

      • Difdi

        Given the thickness of even a cased phone in comparison to the camera lens placement on the phone and the length of even a .22 short cartridge, if you’re aiming the camera lens at someone, the only place to put a barrel would have it aimed straight up in the air (or straight down at your feet).

  • El Guapo

    Here’s the thing. If you reach for your cell phone real fast while cops have their guns drawn on you…then yes, the popo might have a good argument for shooting you or being a-feared for their safety. But if you tell me, after a LEO has walked up to you while you are filming, that he/she can’t tell the difference…then that officer just needs to punch himself/herself right in the mustache. That, or inspect everyone else who just so happens to be on their cell phones taping or making a call. All the time. Everywhere. Smh!

  • Batman

    The guy with the camera was a fucking idiot. But yeah, the camera gun thing is bullshit.

  • Ron

    What an idiot lol

  • Ryan French

    I wonder what would happen if a citizen with a weapons permit shot a person holding a cell phone. They could make a claim they were fearful because it could have been a cell phone gun. How would the police, prosecution and the jury find that excuse?

  • jeff

    several years ago i had a cop pull me over on my mototcycle for speeding. he asked if he could check out my dipstick….. he had heard of people during their dipsticks into knives…what a moron. some cops are to stupid for words

  • Paul Lebowski

    what division? I would like to call

  • Jon Quimbly

    “We have regular safety briefings on this kind of stuff.”
    LOLZ. How those safety briefings go: “If some shitbird is recording you with a cell, order them to turn it off or you’ll arrest them for assault with a deadly weapon-in-your-wildest-dreams.”

  • Eric Wallace

    Just found on snopes, but these are clearly not the iPone or android based phones that you would record with. Really just a lame excuse to harass people

  • tinynot

    RICK: when we have had enough, the lies will stop, the bull crap will stop, and if i was james bond would i put up with the shit of a working stiff pig like that? no, doesnt JAMES have a license to kill….HMMMMM. guess that officer would be saying much after telling to put down that CELL PHONE GUN! what a jackass with a badge! does he even know how stupid he sounds, ” we are suppose to know that crap, its a security issue with us pigs, dont ya know?” oink oink!!!!!!!!!! now where is my mud?

  • Voice-Of-Concern

    Google Glass is a gonna be a REAL problem for anti-video leos. SF was full of them last week & they are absolutely gonna be seen regularly in the not too distant future (2014). While they might be a bit exotic to start, they will become more & more commonplace.

  • JustaVetSailorfromPennsylvania

    Just another example of Badged Uniformed Fascist Thugs denying citizens of their civil rights.