Minutes after taking a panoramic photo with his new iPhone 5s from inside a public park Thursday, a pair of New York City cops drove up to Shawn Randall Thomas and began demanding to know what he was holding in his other hand.
Thomas was holding an e-cigarrette in his left hand, specifically an Innokin MVP with an Aspire Nautilus Tank, which can be purchased for $35 on the internet, but he didn’t feel obliged to inform the officer of the specifics, telling him “that’s my business” as he began recording with the phone from his right hand.
The cop then said, “now it’s mine,” as he stepped out of his car and swaggered up to Thomas, who has been arrested so many times for photographing or recording cops that he has lost count.
But he has yet to be convicted, his latest court victory less than three months ago for an incident in a subway that went viral involving a rogue cop named Rojas.
The cop then began questioning him about a Goya Malta bottle in a bag that somebody had left on a table behind him, a non-alcoholic beverage popular with Cubans and Puerto Ricans, claiming that glass bottles are not allowed in the park, claiming this rule is made clear on the signs upon entry to the park.
Thomas questioned his assertion about this rule, then told him it was “none of your business” when the cop asked him about the contents of the beverage, even though it was not even his.
A second cop who had walked up began demanding his identification, prompting Thomas to ask what crime they suspected him of committing, which, of course, they could not answer.
After a few more demands for his identification, they handcuffed him at around the 2:00 mark.
He spent two hours in a Brooklyn jail cell, accusing of violating the following park rules.
RCNY 1-04(o) Obstruction of sitting areas
No person shall use a bench or other sitting area so as to interfere with its use by other persons, including storing any materials thereon.
RCNY 1-04(d) Restrictions on Glass
The Commissioner may, in his or her discretion, designate certain parks, or portions thereof, as restricted areas wherein no glass bottles or other glass containers will be permitted. Failure to comply with such restrictions shall constitute a violation of these rules. This subdivision (d) shall not apply to glass bottles or containers used in
the care and feeding of infant children.
RCNY 1-05 (S) Exclusive Areas
Areas within the parks designated by the Commissioner for exclusive use shall include: Exclusive Childrens Playgrounds: Adults allowed in playground areas only when accompanied by a child under the age of twelve (12).
However, in a photo that he took of the sign near the entrance of the park after his release from jail doesn’t mention any of these rules.
Before Thursday’s arrest, he had four pending lawsuits stemming from his previous arrests. Now he plans to have five.
Below is the photo he took before his arrest, managing to post it on Facebook before he was confronted by the cops, as well as a trailer of an upcoming documentary by Dylan Avery about police abuse where Thomas makes a cameo after the 2:00 mark, immediately after George Thompson makes his cameo..
In the panoramic photo, you can see three people walking down the path on the right side, including one person in red. Thomas said the cops were behind that group, shaking somebody else down when they noticed him holding his phone up. There is also a photo of his e-cigarette that the cop found suspicious.
These cops were down that path giving someone else a summons for something. They thought that I was recording them when they were doing that.
I wasn’t. I was just testing the panoramic feature of my new iPhone.