Daniel Saulmon, the camera-wielding bicyclist who has become a thorn in the side of police officers in Southern California by recording them every chance he gets, was arrested Thursday after video recording a pair of cops during a traffic accident investigation.
Inglewood police charged him with resisting, delaying or obstructing even though he says he set his camera down on a bus bench, placed his hands behind his back and said, “I’m not resisting.”
He said one of the officers whom he has history with, Michael Concha, turned off the camera while the other cop handcuffed him, ordering him to stop resisting.
This is how he explained it in an email interview with Photography is Not a Crime Sunday:
I set down my camera on the bench so it doesn’t break, put my hands behind my back, and tell the officer ok, I’m not resisting. Concha turns off my camera, then his buddy starts shouting ‘stop resisting, stop resisting,’ while yanking on my arms to give the appearance of a struggle. I, in turn, was yelling, ‘I’m not resisting,’ and of course I was not. My proof, I’m still in perfect health no injury.
He was released the following day but they maintained possession of his camera as “evidence.”
Once released, Saulmon wasted no time in hitting the streets again, this time with another camera where he confronted a Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy whom he accuses of destroying his camera and memory card a few months back, an incident for which the deputy was never disciplined after his department found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Saulmon was standing several feet behind deputy Adrian Camera (yes, Camera) who was overseeing another deputy making an arrest when the deputy turned around and ordered him away.
“I don’t know if you’re going to jump out with a knife or some kind of weapon,” Camera says.
“Please stop talking to me,” Saulmon says, walking a few feet back while keeping his camera pointed towards the deputy.
Saulmon, 42, who has been arrested three times since 2005 for recording cops – including one that resulted in a $25,000 settlement – says it never stops being nerve-racking to stand up to cops armed with nothing but a camera.
But it’s something that needs to be done.
He tried to explain what drives him to record cops on almost daily basis, despite the legal repercussions he has suffered.
If anyone doesn’t get it, when they are detained, and a stranger is going through their property…then I show up and suddenly they are let go, they will get it. Its hard to say exactly. I’m not saying police are bad. I record and talk to police I like and that like me all the time.
However some are not so good, and I’m beginning to know then by name. I have their police reports. I know some of their victims. They are scared to talk about it for fear of retaliation. I understand that its real. I can’t put it into words nearly as easy as I can put it into tears. I don’t know what to say carlos…I wish I could ask my viewers for help they always have good answers.
I’m trying to keep the good guys good, and speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves.
On the day of his most recent arrest, he came across an accident between two vehicles, so he started helping the victims while recording with his cell phone, which is the video below.
He left, had lunch and returned with another camera when he saw two Inglewood police officers observing the scene, but otherwise not getting involved.
And he became upset when one of those officers was Concha with whom he has a history with.
I’m helping victims, clearing intersection of crashed vehicles, single handedly while a group or groups of spectators gathers and does nothing. The victim is holding an infant, hobbling around in one high heel boot…she has injuries to her face from the airbags. I get her shoe from her car, and move her car out of traffic.
She insists she is ok. So I go, eat, grab a better camera, and return to find officer concha sitting on his motorcycle talking to another Inglewood cop.
Neither has greeted the victim yet. As I approach she hurries over to talk to me and thank me again. I warn her and apologize in advance, I’m going to be confronting officer Concha, its not going to be pretty. I tell her its not her fault, don’t take it personal, then I approach Concha and exercise my free speech to the fullest extent. The other guy is alarmed and shoves and pushes me repeatedly as I yell to keep his hands off of me. When he can’t push me any further because the street is behind me, he orders me to not record from anywhere but the curb I’m standing on. They then contact victim suggesting she simply exchange info. Then say something about don’t worry about that guy, bla bla bla. I walk up and say she isn’t worried about me, I’m the only person who has helped her since the accident.
The charge of resisting, delaying or obstructing requires a person to do these actions while officers are acting in the performance of their duties, which he said wasn’t the case here.
While incarcerated, they told him he would be jailed until Monday, but the victim of the traffic accident called the department on his behalf.
She was, in fact, calling them to complain that they had failed to write a report on the collision.
The accident victim called Inglewood police and said hey, you guys didn’t write a report, but worse, you arrested my witness.
Her name is Angie, Carlos, she is a hero, and the reason I’m free. She called on her own and defended me, got me released.
So it’s going to be hard to prove that he was obstructing them from performing their job when they didn’t even do their job of writing a report.
On Wednesday, the day before his arrest, he confronted a Torrance police officer for operating a motorcycle on a sidewalk as you can see in the video below.
He understands he comes across profane and aggressive in his videos, but that wasn’t always the case.
“My previous two arrests, I couldn’t have been more polite if my mother was there,” he said.
“With officers who know me, right away they treat me well, the cussing stops. I know it sounds awful, but they respond to polite folks by running over them.”