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Photographing Police: Deletion Is Not Forever 482

Posted by Soulskill
from the evidence-of-evidence dept.
Geoffrey.landis writes "The courts have now ruled that the public has the right to videotape the police in the performance of their duties. Of course, that doesn't stop the police from harassing people who do so — even journalists, who sometimes have their cameras confiscated. As it turns out, though, they're not always very knowledgeable about how deletion works. I would say that erasing, or attempting to erase, a video of police arresting somebody illegally (How can a journalist be charged with 'resisting arrest' when he was not being arrested for anything other than resisting arrest?) is a clear case of destruction of evidence by the officers. Destroying evidence is obstruction of justice. That's illegal. Why haven't these police officers been arrested?"
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Photographing Police: Deletion Is Not Forever

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  • Privelege (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scarboni888 (1122993) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:05PM (#39211475)

    If you can't be above the law then why be a cop?

    • Re:Privelege (Score:5, Insightful)

      by courteaudotbiz (1191083) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:09PM (#39211553) Homepage

      Why haven't these police officers been arrested?

      Arrested by who? Their peers who do not want to be videotaped either?

      • by CSMoran (1577071) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:41PM (#39212057) Journal

        Why haven't these police officers been arrested?

        Arrested by who? Their peers who do not want to be videotaped either?

        By metacops, naturally.

      • Re:Privelege (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Rasperin (1034758) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:02PM (#39212415)

        Why haven't these police officers been arrested?

        Arrested by who? Their peers who do not want to be videotaped either?

        Internal Affairs...

        • Re:Privelege (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:37PM (#39212961) Homepage Journal

          Why haven't these police officers been arrested?

          Arrested by who? Their peers who do not want to be videotaped either?

          Internal Affairs...

          Thank goodness Internal Affairs is a completely independent and unbiased organization then, eh comrade?

      • by bennomatic (691188) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:23PM (#39214297) Homepage
        I'm here from the Grammar Police. That should have been "Arrested by whom?"
    • Re:Privelege (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:46PM (#39212131)

      Why not fully comply with a Cop, format the card, take it home and run Photorec? ( http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRecPhotorec)
      Undeleting isn't a crime :)

      • Re:Privelege (Score:5, Insightful)

        by icebike (68054) * on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:23PM (#39212769)

        Why not install the latest version of dropbox and have the picture automatically uploaded as soon as its taken.

        That way its propagated to all the computers you have which are idling with Dropbox running in the background.
        There are other services that do this as well.

      • Re:Privelege (Score:5, Informative)

        by INeededALogin (771371) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:30PM (#39212879) Journal

        Why not fully comply with a Cop

        Your solution is to accept an invasion of your rights from a person in power because you can do some extra work to re-gain what was lost?

          • Re:Privelege (Score:4, Insightful)

            by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:29PM (#39214371) Homepage

            When you read the letter in its entirety, it doesn't really pass the smell test. If I had to guess, I'd say it was written by someone trying to make schools look bad to promote their homeschooling agenda, but it could just be a prank as well. Either of those are more plausible than a teacher emphasizing a student correcting a legitimate mistake over his ostensibly disruptive methods of doing so. The way to write that letter, if it really happened, would be to emphasize the disruptive behavior and probably not even mention the details of the mistake the teacher made. The "accept my teachings without resistance" bit is particularly suspect.

    • Re:Privelege (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DnaK (1306859) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:54PM (#39212289)
      It is scary how true your statement is. The one time the cops were on my side during a home robbery at my place, i got a ride home from a cop after getting my stuff at the station (we got the guy!) Well as we drive home he blows every stopsign and stoplight without turning on his lights, and i ask him "Is'nt that illegal?" In a very sarcastic tone. His reply, "Who is going to arrest me" And those are direct quotes. Another time i was pulled over for "driving on the median" and in the report it had said i was in the middle median (double yellow both sides) for over 300 ft. When in reality i had only had 2 wheels cross the double yellow line for less then 50 ft. I please not guilty in court, and asked for video evidence and claimed this was a lie. The judge ruled in cops favor, even though he was blatenly lying. I will admit i don't always follow the rules, the only other time i got a ticket it was totally justified, i was going 52 in a 35. I please guilty, but it was removed from record because of traffic school.
      • My wife was stopped for blowing a stop sign.
        Funny thing is that the cop had their priority lights on prior to her pulling up to the limit line, and she stopped and tried to see what was going on before continuing. Hmmmm...
        I think is is more common with City PDs than HP or Sherrifs though.
        They need to raise capitol for the city.

      • Re:Privelege (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SuperTechnoNerd (964528) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:55PM (#39213233)
        I had a similar experience. The Chief of Police comes in to our computer shop in a panic. Their file server was down. I said I will follow you to the station, but he said he got a faster way - get in my car. I got my stuff since it sounded like a power supply issue, I brought a new supply.and into his police cruiser we went at 80+ mph down winding country roads (he did actually use his lights and siren - for a server failure) I must admit it was loads of fun.. I replaced a bum power supply and again he took me back to the shop sirens screaming lights flashing.. It was a toot!
        • Re:Privelege (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Thursday March 01, 2012 @07:48PM (#39215747) Homepage Journal

          Orson Wells was famous for using Ambulances as a taxi service, because he could get around mid-town Manhattan much faster with an Ambulance than with a conventional taxi service.

          Such acts are currently illegal in most jurisdictions because of abuse like this in the past, where the only time you can turn on the sirens and/or lights is to respond to a bona fide emergency. None the less, a server crash might fit the technical scope of an "emergency" when it does involve official police business.

    • Illegal Everything (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:45PM (#39213087) Homepage Journal

      If you can't be above the law then why be a cop?

      There are a bunch of similar stories here [youtube.com] (as well as several other atrocities like selling lemonade, Girl Scout cookies, felony ditch cleaning, and holding illegal prayer meetings).

      Cops on tape, breaking the law, and nothing is done about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:06PM (#39211497)

    he wasn't arrested for filming the police, he was arrested for disobeying a dispersal order.

    I'm not saying whether that's right or wrong, and I am aware he is a member of the press (though with some claiming that ANYONE can be a member of the "press").

    However, it's also possible for police to issue a lawful order to disperse that, if not obeyed, could result in arrest — alongside a charge of resisting arrest.

    The individual was being arrested for failure to obey a dispersal order, which was exactly what the officer said, not for "resisting arrest".

    Further, it's the submitter's OPINION that this person was being arrested "illegally". That's something the courts will now decide. The troubling part is that the video would probably be the key evidence in such a case, I agree.

    Of course, it's pretty clear that he disobeyed a direct (and likely lawful) order to disperse, and whatever happens after that I sort of lose interest in. :-/

    • by Feyshtey (1523799) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:10PM (#39211567)
      So basically you're saying that as long as the police tell everyone to stop being witness to their criminal and unlawful acts, they are within their legal rights to detain those witnesses and destroy any evidence they may have collected.
      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:12PM (#39211605)

        No, what I'm saying is that it is possible for police to issue a lawful dispersal order to a group or area (not passing judgement on whether or not this one was, since I don't have all of the information), and you're not exempt because you happen to have a camera in your hand.

        • by Feyshtey (1523799) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:19PM (#39211737)
          And I'm saying I disagree.

          A dispersal order is supposed to be used by officers to difuse a potentially dangerous situation, or an unlawful or unsafe gathering (on private property, or blocking safety exits, for instance). If a cop is telling you that you have to leave only because he doesnt want you to witness his activities then he is wrongfully applying his authority and you are within your rights to decline his order.

          If you start down the path of conceeding that you have to do what a cop says just because he said so, you have forfeited your freedoms gauranteed by our Constitution. And you're not likely to get them back.
          • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:28PM (#39211875)

            The laws for when and under what circumstances police may issue a dispersal order vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. They can indeed be lawfully used for mass public gatherings, on public or private property, even in cases where no imminent danger exists. In the case of some of the Occupy camps, municipalities justified removal on the grounds of the camps being a "public nuisance", or a public health hazard.

            Clearly some disagree with these judgments, but once that judgment is made by a duly elected or appointed authority, police may lawfully clear the area. Those who disobey the order would be subject to arrest, and it's not the job of the police to discern whether someone may or may nor be press, affiliated with the camp, an innocent observer, etc. If someone is refusing to obey the dispersal order, they'll be arrested.

            It's that simple. Again, this isn't a value judgment — just the facts.

            Also, following the directions of law enforcement officers is required in many states and jurisdictions, and this isn't a new or recent construct. There are varying degrees, some of which include provisions for presenting identification and similar. It's your opinion, like the submitter's, that this is somehow "illegal". The rule of law doesn't work when individuals get to decide what applies to them on a whim.

            • by Feyshtey (1523799) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:37PM (#39212001)

              In the case of some of the Occupy camps, municipalities justified removal on the grounds of the camps being a "public nuisance", or a public health hazard.

              Safety. I mentioned that.

              Also, following the directions of law enforcement officers is required in many states and jurisdictions, and this isn't a new or recent construct. There are varying degrees, some of which include provisions for presenting identification and similar. It's your opinion, like the submitter's, that this is somehow "illegal". The rule of law doesn't work when individuals get to decide what applies to them on a whim.

              So by your reasoning an officer can show up at your home right now, and tell you to let him in. According to you, you must comply.

              This is wholly false. You are protected by law. You have rights. You may legally and rightfully refuse this order from an officer when it voiliates those rights. That officer MUST provide a warrant issued by a court, or have probable cause to enter your home. Period. End of discussion.

              Your stance is based on the fact that most people are ignorant, or complacent, or fearful, and do enforce their rights when challenged. The rule of law doesnt work when those enforcing it are above it.

              • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:50PM (#39212209)

                Yes, but the example you gave is clear-cut: other than in exigent circumstances, one does not have to allow law enforcement personnel onto/into private property without a proper warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction.

                The situation here of clearing an Occupy camp and issuing a dispersal order is anything but clear-cut. Assuming for a moment that it's possible this dispersal order was lawful, at least as far as it goes, why would you claim that they can't compel this person to clear the area as well? How, specifically, was the arrest inappropriate if this was a lawful order to disperse?

                Now, if you're saying the order to disperse wasn't lawful, what's your basis for that, given that nearly all municipalities that have cleared Occupy camps have ensured that they at least have a justification for removal that can withstand some scrutiny? Again, without having sat in on all of the council meetings that resulted in this order, I can't comment for certain.

                My stance is in no way based on the fact that people are any of those things you claim. But you don't get to decide on your own that something doesn't apply to you. This was not about a legal or constitutional violation (UNLESS the dispersal order was unlawful). There was what was very likely a LAWFUL order to disperse issued by appropriate authority, and this guy chose to say, essentially, "I'm not doing anything wrong," and refused to disperse instead of obeying the order. Well, 99% of the people in the camp probably weren't "doing anything wrong" at that very moment, either, other than being there. If I walked in just to "observe" the camp and refused to leave when directed by a police officer, I can guarantee you I would be arrested on the spot, no matter what I said.

                Now we're getting to places where someone might say, hey, the "law" is made by those in "power", and these Occupy camps are just people trying to "take back" their power, so someone needs to stand up and fight the system, document the struggle, etc., etc., etc. Okay, fine. But if you're going to actively oppose civil society and the system of laws that are in place, regardless of from where they stem, expect that there will be consequences to those actions.

                • by Feyshtey (1523799) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:58PM (#39212355)
                  I believe we're in disagreement mainly because I didn't clarify myself in that I am no limiting my comments to this one case. There are cases in which a cop can lawfully ask people to disperse and those people need to comply. I mentioned that. But I adamantly disagree that just because a cop says you have to disperse it does not inherently mean that he has done so lawfully. Too few people peacefully challenge this because they dont want to deal with the consequences. And as that concession becomes more and more common, it becomes expected by both the citizens and law enforcement. The rights which we rely upon to remain free become effectively void in practice if not in law.
                  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:02PM (#39212419)

                    Fair enough — and as someone else noted, I think we're in fundamental agreement here.

                    — wait, what's happening here? A rational discussion on slashdot?!?

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            Sorry to step in, but I think you guys fundamentally agree - daveschroeder is just saying that he doesn't know the circumstances and is happy to let the court figure it out.

            • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:38PM (#39212011)

              That's an accurate assessment. The reality is that if a police officer is issuing a direct order and you choose to disobey it, there will likely be consequences. Indeed, even if you think the police officer's order really is unlawful, you're probably still going to be detained or arrested if you refuse to obey it.

              Even if one makes this argument from a moral/ethical perspective, in such frameworks there is still the notion that as an independent, thinking being, one has the ability to do anything that they physically can do — whether it's take a walk, kill someone, leak a secret, tell a lie, or disobey the police. The key is recognizing that the event can have consequences.

              In this case, my only concern comes from the police attempting to delete imagery from the camera. The courts can now decide whether or not this arrest is legitimate.

              • by Feyshtey (1523799) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:44PM (#39212091)
                My concern is the overwhelming willingness to be treated unlawfully so as to avoid the consequences, and yet so little consideration is given to the consequences of allowing society as a whole to be consistently treated unlawfully.
              • by Bardwick (696376) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:51PM (#39212223)
                In the military, you are only allowed to follow *lawful* orders. Following any other kind will result in personal consequences.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Qzukk (229616)

                my only concern comes from the police attempting to delete imagery from the camera

                So you have no concern whatsoever with your tax dollars spent to deal with it, or with the company's money being spent on lawyers to deal with it? Lost wages and productivity while sitting in jail and/or court dealing with it?

                These too are consequences, yet much of it is incurred before a court decides whether or not the cop's order was lawful.

                The key is recognizing that the event can have consequences.

                But only for the little

          • by pz (113803) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:04PM (#39212467) Journal

            If a cop is telling you that you have to leave only because he doesnt want you to witness his activities ...

            And that would be an unlawful dispersal order. That's why the parent post specifically said, "... it is possible for police to issue a lawful dispersal order ..." (emphasis added) in order to specifically speak to the point in question. Your example is clearly outside that purview, making your post merely argumentative rather than constructive.

            If you believe an order to be unlawful, you are free to ignore it, and suffer the consequences until such time that the judicial system agrees with you or not. I have done so, and, fortunately for me, the consequences were not grave. A friend of mine did the same, at a different time, was subsequently arrested, but was later found to have been within his rights. The enlightened reader will understand that when the enforcement arm of our society issues a directive, not abiding by that directive has potentially serious implications, completely independent of the lawfulness of the directive.

            Let's put it simply: someone carrying a badge and a gun tells you to move. You don't. There's a very real possibility that you will get shot. Yes, it would be illegal for that to happen, but the reality is that you're still bleeding, and bleeding as a result of your choice to ignore the command. Or perhaps you're not bleeding, but you've been beaten about the head, or been arrested. Eventually the judicial system might catch up and rule in your favor, but that won't change the fact that you've been injured or detained.

          • by Jessified (1150003) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:13PM (#39212599)

            I was a legal observer during the Vancouver Olympics. Luckily there were no major abuses of police power (although one officer did put a mark on our head by telling a drug dealer that we were collecting evidence against him, pretty unprofessional if you ask me).

            The best advice I've been given for videotaping police is to ask where they want you to stand so that you are not in their way. If you record them saying that they want you completely out of sight, then you have collected evidence that their request was unreasonable. If they give you a reasonable distance where you can keep filming their activities, then it's not really a problem. It's dangerous to disobey a police officer even if you think you are in the right, and if you turn out to be wrong there could be consequences.

            You don't have to be right beside the officers to get a good view of what's going on, and standing back a few meters often affords a better vantage point anyways.

            As far as police deleting your footage, it's good to have a second voice recorder under you shirt. Vocalize your objections, "Why are you destroying this evidence??" It might be useful later.

    • by Old time hacker (302793) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:14PM (#39211631)

      The good news is that, in a court, if one party destroys evidence, the court is required to assume that the evidence is favorable to the other party. I.e. if the cops destroy a video, then the court assumes that it would be in favor of the defendant.

      • by DM9290 (797337)

        The good news is that, in a court, if one party destroys evidence, the court is required to assume that the evidence is favorable to the other party. I.e. if the cops destroy a video, then the court assumes that it would be in favor of the defendant.

        the court is not required to assume anything. It is just another piece of evidence that the court must consider in totality with all the other evidence when deciding how reliable a particular witness is. It isn't as cut n dry as you make it.

      • by kulervo (1597181) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:59PM (#39212361)

        What you are talking about is Spoliation (seriously, that's the spelling), and it can be a jury instruction, where the judge tells the jury that they should assume that the contents of the destroyed evidence (tape, image, whatever) showed that the officer was doing whatever it was the photographer says he was doing.

        It could be worked like this hypothetically: I take video of police brutality, some officers come over, rough me up, take my tape, and I yell out: "This is police brutality! I'm going to sue you! That tape is evidence!" If the cop then deletes the images, destroys the tape, etc, then he has committed spoliation. When/if I sue the cop, and depending on jurisdiction, I can either: a. File a motion for sanctions and fines because the cop destroyed the evidence; b. File a motion to have the judge tell the jury that they should assume that the tape showed the judge roughing me up; or c. File an civil complaint on the topic of spoliation alone, and then even if I lose on the battery case, I might still win on the destruction of evidence case.

        Jurisdictions very, don't try this at home, try not to go out into the world with a machine that still uses tape (my hypothetical apparently took place 10 years ago). There is a decent and free law journal article on the topic in Illinois, and we are very much having the video-tape-the-police-discussion here. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1536805#%23 [ssrn.com]

    • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:18PM (#39211723)

      he wasn't arrested for filming the police, he was arrested for disobeying a dispersal order.

      No, RTFA.

      Miller was charged with a single count of resisting arrest. "Aside from a blatant violation of Mr. Miller’s First Amendment rights to record matters of public interest in a public place," Osterreicher wrote, "we do not understand how, absent some other underlying charge for which there was probable cause, a charge of resisting arrest can stand on its own?" "We believe that the recovered video of the incident will show that officers acted outside of their authority, in violation of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution as well as the Privacy Protection Act of 1980 and similar protections provided by Florida law," he wrote.

      • by Feyshtey (1523799)
        "Yeah, we beat the shit out of him, but while we were hitting him and swung at a cop. So we arrested him for assualting an officer. "
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        No, RTFA.

        You have to glance at the news source... ars. It's a great tech rag, but they aren't very good journalists. If you look at the linked blog of the journalist in question (Carlos Miller - love his mug shot), [pixiq.com] you will see that he says:

        The gist is that I was arrested for refusing to leave a public area, even though hordes of corporate journalists were allowed to remain, including one who recorded my arrest.

        • And if you actually research it further, you'll find that the only charges he is actually facing is "Resisting arrest". He wasn't cited for failure to disperse.

          Funnily enough, he was actually asking the police if he could go to his car when one of the commanders started shouting "Arrestee! Arrestee!" and had him arrested. So apparently asking police to allow you to leave an area they have ordered you to leave is "disobeying a lawful order to disperse"... Much like being tackled from behind is "Assaulting a police officer" and lying unconscious on the ground due to a diabetic coma while cops kick you is "Resisting arrest."

    • by DM9290 (797337) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:35PM (#39211967) Journal

      Further, it's the submitter's OPINION that this person was being arrested "illegally". That's something the courts will now decide. The troubling part is that the video would probably be the key evidence in such a case, I agree.

      Of course, it's pretty clear that he disobeyed a direct (and likely lawful) order to disperse, and whatever happens after that I sort of lose interest in. :-/

      Obviously it depends upon the jurisdiction, but in most places police do not have the authority to order people to disperse except under certain special circumstances.

      If we're talking about an officer who would actually DELETE THE VIDEO then I seriously doubt the order to disperse was lawful because it is that video which would prove in court that the order to disperse was lawful. The act of deleting the video reasonably implies that the motive behind the order to disperse was simply to prevent the video from being made. In most places, destroying evidence is not a valid justification to interfere with a persons liberty and order them to disperse and consequently the order itself was without a valid purpose and was thus unlawful.

      police have no right to destroy other peoples private property at their own discretion.

      • by forkfail (228161)

        Not to mention that anybody who says, "We don't want to have to hurt you" generally wants to hurt you.

    • by gubers33 (1302099) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:18PM (#39212683)
      Problem here, he wasn't charged with anything other than resisting arrest. He was not charged with failure to obey a dispersal order. Funny, because I was not aware that charge could stand on it's own. Being a member of the press, he was allowed to be there according to the First Ammendment " record matters of public interest in a public place.", meaning he was allowed to be there to document the event as a member of the press. The police then attempted destroyed evidence of their unlawful actions. The attempted deletion of the video is a blatant admission of their guilt, these officers should not only lose their jobs, but he charged with obstruction of justice and serve prison time.
    • by KhabaLox (1906148) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:27PM (#39212825)

      The individual was being arrested for failure to obey a dispersal order, which was exactly what the officer said, not for "resisting arrest".

      No, he wasn't. From TFA:

      Miller was charged with a single count of resisting arrest. "Aside from a blatant violation of Mr. Miller’s First Amendment rights to record matters of public interest in a public place," [National Press Photographers Association General Consul] Osterreicher wrote [in a letter to the Miami-Dade PD], "we do not understand how, absent some other underlying charge for which there was probable cause, a charge of resisting arrest can stand on its own?"

      Now, I agree that there are occasions where the police can give lawful dispersal orders, but I don't believe those orders should apply to members of the press who are documenting events (and not participating in whatever actions are causing the police to call for dispersal). Of course, as you point out, it is extremely difficult for police on the ground to identify who is "legitimate" press (and hard for us as a society to decide what "legitimate" press even is). But the thorniness of that problem should not give police the blanket authority to disperse/arrest everyone and prevent documentation of such events.

      You mentioned "two separate things": the charges for which he was arrested; and the "opinion" that the arrest was illegal (it's a minor point, but I agree with you). You left out a third thing, which is probably the most important part of this piece.

      After he was arrested, while the police had his camera in custody, they allegedly erased video of the events up to and including his arrest. I can't think of any reason this can be justified. If the footage was taken illegally (which may be the case since the appellate ruling referenced was for a MA case and may not apply in FL - IANAL), then the police should have preserved the evidence for trial. If the footage was not taken illegally, then there is no reasonable cause for them to delete it either. I don't think I would hold the police to a 100% standard in terms of returning property whole to suspects - it's possible if they impound your car that it get's dinged accidentally in the impound lot; your phone or computer may get dropped (not "dropped" - that would be a problem) on the floor of the evidence room. Accidents happen and like I said, I would expect the police to be perfect. But here it seems someone deliberately access the camera's memory and selectively deleted videos. It's hard to construe that as accidental.

      Bottom line, once the police have evidence in custody, they are obligated to preserve it. That apparently didn't happen here, and if the allegation are true and there are no repercussions, then it is indeed a scary (police) state we live in.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:08PM (#39211547) Homepage Journal

    See Blade Runner.
    The simple reason that police are not arrested for destruction of evidence is that the police enforce the law. And the police cover for each other when they break the law. Therefore the police are above the law.

    I know you like to think you're living in a democratic republic where all are equal under the law, but that's just not the case. And the sooner you learn that, the better off you'll be.

    • by n5vb (587569) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:15PM (#39211645)

      The simple reason that police are not arrested for destruction of evidence is that the police enforce the law. And the police cover for each other when they break the law. Therefore the police are above the law.

      Worth noting the difference between de facto and de jure here. The police are not above the law in a purely de jure sense as there is theoretically some degree of accountability. Practically speaking, in most cases, they are above the law to some extent in a de facto sense, because it's extremely difficult for ordinary citizens to make complaints against them stick in court.

      (Although in most states, the state police do have oversight responsibility over local PD's, and the FBI has oversight responsibility over state and local police. Which is one of many reasons local PD's aren't fond of state police or the Feds. And one reason you do want to be able to find contact info for your state police and FBI in the phone book.)

    • by Tharsman (1364603) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:16PM (#39211679)

      Hmmm I ponder...

      If I make a company on another state, and my equipment belongs to said company... not only that but the equipment is constantly "broadcasting" to a datacenter (so deletions are never actually possible) ... can a savy journalist get the FBI involved since it's a cross-state crime where the local state officer tempred with property of an out-of-state company?

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:11PM (#39211591) Homepage Journal

    Welcome to the former land of the free and the brave - should we ever again be worthy of that title, we'll let you know.

    We know everything about you and where you live

    • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:21PM (#39211779)

      Was america ever worthy of that title? Slavery for the first part of the countries history, women didn't get sufferage until 1919. Blacks were still segregated until the 60's and by then there was the paranoia over the cold war with people getting accused of being a communist (so what if you are?). Perhaps after the wall came down for that 10 years or so people were fine and then 9/11 happened and the US went to a police state. Also when your country has one of the highest incarceration rates you can't really claim to be very free.

      • by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:46PM (#39212139)

        Also when your country has one of the highest incarceration rates you can't really claim to be very free.

        It's actually the highest. The highest in any place on the planet at any time in history.

      • Was america ever worthy of that title? Slavery for the first part of the countries history, women didn't get sufferage until 1919. Blacks were still segregated until the 60's and by then there was the paranoia over the cold war with people getting accused of being a communist (so what if you are?). Perhaps after the wall came down for that 10 years or so people were fine and then 9/11 happened and the US went to a police state. Also when your country has one of the highest incarceration rates you can't really claim to be very free.

        But to look at what you wrote a different way, we were making slow progress in the right direction. We weren't perfect, but we used to be striving to be increasingly free both in depth and breadth. That's what I miss, and I guess I'm not brave enough on my own to reclaim.

      • by Kr1ll1n (579971) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:57PM (#39212341)

        How does this garbage always get modded up? The US has only existed for 340 years, give or take. At the time of the first colonization, Europe had slavery as well. While America's past is not one to be proud of, it has made tremendous strides in a shorter timespan in comparison to other European countries.

        Regarding the Suffrage Movement; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_women's_suffrage [wikipedia.org] (New Zealand credited as the 1st, 2 US states allowed women to vote during the same year)

        Regarding Slavery; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abolition_of_slavery_timeline [wikipedia.org]

        Just these 2 issues alone show that the movements you say America took FOREVER to embrace, were embraced within the same century as the rest of her peers.

        So quit being an elitist. It only makes you look worse than the American's you despise......

        • by dbc (135354) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:35PM (#39212945)

          The US has only existed for 340 years, give or take.

          Umm.... how much are you giving and taking there? I don't think a few colonies of farmers count as "the United States". You might want to review your history and your math. My ancestors came to this continent 378 years ago, but the constitution wasn't ratified until 1788 or 1789. 340 years is a very strange number to pick.

          People tend to pick July 4, 1776 as the start of the United States -- which is itself a bit of an odd choice. The Declaration of Independence was passed on July 2, and some delegates thought that should be the day that was considered the birth of the US. It was signed on July 4, when clean copies were available. It wasn't read in the public square until July 6 -- basically to give all the signers a two day head start out of town on the fastest horse they could find -- signing was a act of treason, punishable by "cruel and unusual" death -- and the court room for the highest court the King had in the colonies was right across the hall from the room they were meeting in.

  • duh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:12PM (#39211599) Homepage Journal

    Why haven't these police officers been arrested?"

    You must be new here? they're cops , everyone knows cops don't like to arrest other cops. And DA's don't like to charge cops unless there's a public outcry. And their sergeants usually give even the dirtiest of cops "their full support", even when there is public outcry. Most of the time they just get some paid vacation for their bad behavior. It's no wonder it just doesn't stop. When's the last time you saw a cop get suspended instead of "placed on administrative leave"?

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:14PM (#39211635)

    That's illegal. Why haven't these police officers been arrested?"

    Cops get let off all the time, some examples: http://bit.ly/dWV5ab [bit.ly]
    This cop is not suffering from dementia, they showed him on the TV afterwards walking, talking, and smiling. In addition, it is typical in VA to be held indefinitely if your are unable to stand trial, as VA has no insanity defense.

    Remember the Katrina shootings: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/27/mistrial-declared-in-katrina-shooting_n_1239525.html [huffingtonpost.com]
    After enough mistrials, the case will likely be quietly dropped as the public forgets. Shit it has been 7 years already.

    Do I really need to mention the Rodney King riots?

    • by Bayoudegradeable (1003768) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:44PM (#39212109)

      Remember the Katrina shootings: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/27/mistrial-declared-in-katrina-shooting_n_1239525.html [huffingtonpost.com] After enough mistrials, the case will likely be quietly dropped as the public forgets. Shit it has been 7 years already.

      Please don't make comments if you don't know what you are talking about! (oh, wait, this is slashdot...) And forget?? Where you live 'people' might forget but here in New Orleans we forget very, very little of Katrina. Officers that did the shooting have been convicted and sentenced. The mistrial you point out is for one officer who was on the cover up side. Dugue was not even involved in the shooting. Please don't spread ignorance. (and don't back-peddle saying it was the cover-up dude getting off. He's not off, there's just been a mistrial)

  • Crimes Code Origin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:17PM (#39211691)
    Other than the basic tennents that we agree are fundamental crimes like theft, robbery, and murder a lot of the other behaviors that were criminalized were done in the interest of controlling the poor. The foundation of the anti-drug laws in America were all about fear of the poor, immigrant labor. Opium was originally outlawed simply because of the Chinese labor building the Union Pacific Railroad. Since more and more behavior is becoming criminalized and there is greater pressure on police to make arrests, we need ways of keeping government honest. The video as a standard of truth then becomes increasingly imporant in guarding a person's civil rights.
  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:19PM (#39211741)

    If the photographer/journalist committed a crime, then the photos/video shouldn't be deleted as it is evidence.

    If they didn't commit a crime, then the photos/videos shouldn't be deleted since the they were engaging in a legal activity.

    If a police officer (or worse, security guard) orders you to or seizes your camera to delete a photo/video you've taken, they are either destroying evidence, infringing on your civil liberties, or both.

  • 'resisting arrest' (Score:4, Informative)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:20PM (#39211759) Homepage

    "How can a journalist be charged with 'resisting arrest' when he was not being arrested for anything other than resisting arrest?"
    I believe that resisting arrest is an umbrella term that can apply by itself.
    If a cop is legally pulling you over to simply check if you are intoxicated (etc) or just asking to talk to you on the street and you run away then legally you are resisting arrest even though you where not being arrested in the first place.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:21PM (#39211807) Homepage

    1 "You're under arrest"

    2 "For what?"

    3 "For resisting arrest"

    4 "Arrest on what charge?"

    5 "Resisting arrest." GOTO 1

    ?@#! Calls for an xkcd.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:27PM (#39211865)

    Most decent photojournalists know every slight of hand and trick in the book when it comes to keeping the material, especially those who are used to working in corrupt countries. A little sleight-of-hand and the cop is smashing a blank tape, confiscating a blank hard drive on a different camera, or ignoring the memory stick the report has under his tongue.

  • Am I the only one? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:48PM (#39212181)

    Am I the only one who thinks, in this day and age of easy video & audio recording, that ANY interaction police have with ANYONE for ANY reason (in an official capacity or as "an off duty police officer" responding to something) should be required to be recorded by the police themselves or "it didn't happen"?

    Traffic stops, parking tickets, entering homes - ANYTHING - get it all on video and audio and require that said videos be made available for all parties privy to that.

    Were I in charge of the world, that's one of the first things I would do - require all law enforcement people to wear video and audio recording devices at all times, even inside of their offices etc.

    It should be a no brainer that civilians should be able to record any interaction they have with police, of course. I can't think of a single reason why it shouldn't be.

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @02:55PM (#39212301)

    I'm just guessing, but I think "resisting arrest" is english, whereas being "arrested" is jargon. Being "arrested" is being detained by police on charges. Where as "resisting arrest" is simply resisting being stopped by police. Just a thought.

  • The virtue of OSS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by columbus (444812) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @03:53PM (#39213211)

    Every comment I have seen has been on the social aspects of this incident. Let's talk about the software aspect of it

    (from TFA)
    "I used Stellar Phoenix recovery software for the first recovery, which has proven to be unable to recover large files in its entirety. I used PhotoRec for the second recovery, which did the job. PhotoRec has a steeper learning curve than Stellar Phoenix, but it’s free, unlike the former."

    Score one for open source software. Better than the proprietary alternative in this case.

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:32PM (#39214405) Journal

    tl;dr "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

    A seizure or forcible restraint; an exercise of the power to deprive a person of his or her liberty; the taking or keeping of a person in custody by legal authority, especially, in response to a criminal charge. [thefreedictionary.com]

    The purpose of an arrest is to bring the arrestee before a court or otherwise secure the administration of the law. An arrest serves the function of notifying the community that an individual has been accused of a crime and also may admonish and deter the arrested individual from committing other crimes. Arrests can be made on both criminal charges and civil charges, although civil arrest is a drastic measure that is not looked upon with favor by the courts. The federal Constitution imposes limits on both civil and criminal arrests.

    An arrest may occur (1) by the touching or putting hands on the arrestee; (2) by any act that indicates an intention to take the arrestee into custody and that subjects the arrestee to the actual control and will of the person making the arrest; or (3) by the consent of the person to be arrested. There is no arrest where there is no restraint, and the restraint must be under real or pretended legal authority. However, the detention of a person need not be accompanied by formal words of arrest or a station house booking to constitute an arrest.

    The test used to determine whether an arrest took place in a particular case is objective, and it turns on whether a reasonable person under these circumstances would believe he or she was restrained or free to go. A reasonable person is one who is not guilty of criminal conduct, overly apprehensive, or insensitive to the seriousness of the circumstances. Reasonableness is not determined in light of a defendant's subjective knowledge or fears. The subjective intent of the police is also normally irrelevant to a court's determination whether an arrest occurred, unless the officer makes that intent known. Thus, a defendant's presence at a police station by consent does not become an arrest solely by virtue of an officer's subjective view that the defendant is not free to leave, absent an act indicating an intention to take the defendant into custody.

    I have highlighted the important points. One can be arrested on the scene of a possible crime and let go with no charges. One can be arrested by the officer(s) telling one not to leave because he wants to question one. Then, by attempting to leave, one can be arrested for resisting arrest, but this time taken into custody, transported to jail, booked, etc. It wasn't that long ago that one might be arrested for being drunk, dropped in the drunk tank, then let go without charges when one sobered up.

    This is yet another problem with the ambiguity of the English language especially in the case of legal or professional jargon as opposed to general usage.

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