Broward Sheriff’s Department Accused of Deleting Footage as Broward Sheriff’s Attorney Agrees to Join Us on Right to Record Panel


Back in November, a Florida Atlantic University student named Kelvin Elmond was arrested for trying to video record a group of aggressive Broward sheriff’s deputies as they arrested other students during a fraternity party that apparently had gotten a little too loud.

Elmond told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that he spent the night in jail on a resisting arrest charge and when he was released, his footage had been deleted.

The Sun Sentinel didn’t think this information was very newsworthy, burying it towards the bottom of its article.

“I was standing next to my roommate and the cops just grabbed him as he was walking away,” said Edmond, an urban design major from Miramar. “He said, ‘Get your hands off me,’ and they put him in a chokehold. I was videotaping it and the cop hit me and took my phone.

“Then I started walking away and a cop bull-rushed me, knocked me to the ground and handcuffed me.”

When Edmond got his phone back, the video he shot was erased, he said.

In the days after the article was published, I sent Edmond two messages through Facebook in an attempt to get more details, but he never responded nor did he accept my friend request, so I was just going to let it go as there is no shortage of similar stories for PINAC.

But later this month, I will be sitting on a right to record panel with Ron Gunzberger, general counsel for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, so it might be worth exploring that incident as it exemplifies the problem we are trying to resolve.

That a large percentage of cops around this country have no respect for the Constitution when it comes to citizens’ right to record as they conduct their public duties.

If Elmond’s allegations are true, then it is especially troublesome considering it was only in May 2013 that the Florida Supreme Court ruled that police do not have the right to view the contents of a cell phone without a search warrant, not to mention the United States Department of Justice made it clear in 2012 that it is illegal for police officers to delete footage from the cameras of citizens.

Moderating the panel will be Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, one of the sponsors along with the Broward chapter of the ACLU and the SDX Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The panel is free and open to the public and will be held from 12-3 pm Saturday, January 25, at the West Regional Library, 8601 West Broward Boulevard, Plantation, FL 33324.

PINAC partners Joel Chandler and Jeff Gray also plan to drive down for the event, so this can turn into a lot of fun considering the characters already involved. We would love to see you there.

Click here for more information and to RSVP. Here is the Facebook page to the event.

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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  • ericfreerock

    Can I assuming the whole thing will be video recorded and put online in its entirety?

    • inquisitor

      That would be…nice.

    • Carlos_Miller

      Yes, we will video record it.

  • steveo

    Carlos, these panels cannot hurt, but I’ve said since 2010 and before: that the incidents of prior restraint of photographers is just going to increase rather than decrease just because the supervision in jurisdictions really don’t care about 1st or 2nd, certainly not 4th Amendment and they don’t even know what due process really means in the 5th amendment. The hierarchy of the agencies are unconcerned over individual rights, and until that changes, these encounters are only to become more numerous.

    • io-io

      What are our Constitutional Rights worth? In court, in many instances – not very much. Courts want to see actual damages, so that they can put an actual price tag on it. However, as we have been seeing, loss of our Constitutional Rights over time takes a large toll. For the most part it is difficult to quantify in actual dollars. That said, folks from other countries bet their lives in order to gain these rights that we take for granted. I dare say a few multi million dollar settlements will alter the present course.

      There have been few legal papers on the issue. There is one that has been published. It is somewhat dated, but still very current.

    • Bob_Striffler

      Amen to that

  • steveo

    Yeah, you are right…. Smallwood vs. State and we should all burn this case into our memories because the FL Supreme Court said that agencies in FL have to have a detailed warrant before searching smartphones. (Which doesn’t seem to happen with PINAC cop watchers). I posted this case on the forums for anyone to read. So if you are copwatching and they take your smartphone for “evidence”, this is what you do:

    You need to go ballistic in the 1st Appearance about them taking your workproduct, citing Smallwood and demanding a return of your property. Not to mention a plethora of SCOTUS decisions about the State taking control of newsgathering or other publishable material. Examples being: Maryland Vs Macon and Walter v. United States. When you’re confronted with the judge go nuts and tell him that there is still a US Constitution.

    • Carlos_Miller

      Why don’t you join us? How far are you from Broward?

  • AlexW

    Are you open to accepting questions

    from the public inadvance of the Right to Record panel?

    • Carlos_Miller

      Of course. The more audience engagement, the better.

  • Bob_Striffler

    It seems the only question to be asked is why are the police committing crimes against citizens and not being held accountable by the checks and balances of the Judicial Branch or Legislative Branches! I’m mean there are a lot of laws a lot of people don’t like. They to should go out and repeatedly break them anyway and then have a panel to discuss it! So after they justify it at the panel they can keep doing it! Don’t tell me this panel is about REFORM! Isn’t that kind of like Campaign Finance Reform after in bi-partisan support against Lobbyism…everything just kept getting worse! Are we a rule of law country with a constitution or not! Isn’t it just like the Patriot Act where 95% of bi-partisan Americans screamed absolutely not yet it was forced down the American peoples throats! (Now we have this) Isn’t it like NAFTA…all of these where a small number crammed it down the majority’s throat? (Mob Rule) I don’t even know why there is going to be a discussion. You’ve all heard the meaningless ignorant responses/excuses the cops and their groupies give a thousand times! And these ignorant, unsupported by reality excuses seem to supercede the law! Plausible deniability! Exigent Circumstances, Good Faith Exceptions, I felt threatened (as they beat up women!) This is a Fluid Law Enforcement investigation! Filming the police puts their lives in danger and the public! What is this panel going to do about anything if guilt isn’t admitted and they still refuse to train the police to follow the law! And they refuse to train discipline and supervise their officers! We can all see that they’re obviously being conditioned to do these things! Let’s not Bull-shoot each other about it!

    • Bob_Striffler

      The courts need independent oversight and review. The Judges need independent oversight and review. The Cops need independent oversight and review and the prosecutors need independent oversight and review!

      Why not

  • Jeffrey Marcus Gray

    Carlos Miller and Radly Balko, I can’t wait!

    • Carlos_Miller

      Radley Balko, unfortunately, had to cancel.

  • ysth

    The article just doesn’t add up in so many ways:

    Punches were thrown, seven deputies injured, yet all but one person were charged with resisting arrest without violence or noise ordinance violation?

    One deputy broke his hand, yet all the injured officers drove themselves to medical facilities for evaluation? (I sure hope it is against department policy to drive with a broken hand.)

    The police say the problem was refusal to disperse, yet several of those arrested were walking away at the time? And an eyewitness claims police drew weapons and ordered people *out* of their cars?

  • Daniel Wood

    Carlos, from what I understand you use to live in Arizona. Do you know anybody in Tucson who is engaged in cop watching? I’ve been trying to get something started here, but everybody keeps flaking on me.

  • Jeff Rielley

    Carlos, I have a question I’d like you to ask…DHS has been given the authority by a federal judge to search laptops and other computer equipment within 100 miles of the border. How does this relate to local authorities demanding to see cell phones? Are we going to see Barney Fife demanding your cell phone (small computer) because you pose a terror threat by recording a cop?

    • Carlos_Miller

      We will bring that up during the panel.