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Man Claims Cell Phone Taken By DC Police For Taking Photos 318

Posted by timothy
from the safest-city-in-the-world dept.
First time accepted submitter hawkinspeter writes "Just one day after Chief Cathy Lanier made it illegal for MPD cops to take recording equipment, a 26-year-old local man had his phone taken as he was trying to record a violent arrest. They eventually gave back his phone, but without the memory card which also contained photos of his daughter along with the record of the alleged police brutality."
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Man Claims Cell Phone Taken By DC Police For Taking Photos

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  • Chief? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:17AM (#40790791) Journal

    Just one day after Chief Cathy Lanier made it illegal for MPD cops to take recording equipment

    Chiefs don't make laws.

    • Re:Chief? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Spritzer (950539) * on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:22AM (#40790861) Journal
      True. The article is poorly worded. However, Chiefs do set policy within their department.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It also was already illegal... she just clarified it with policy.

    • Re:Chief? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jahf (21968) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:44AM (#40791259) Journal

      And in this case the chief didn't make law.

      The chief clarified to her officers what the law already is. Seizure of recording equipment without the recorder actually causing some form of disturbance (the officer being disturbed) does not stand up in court. Officers tend to know this, too, but are used to being able to bully their way through the issue.

      The policy from the chief was not a new thing in the sense of the law. It was a new thing in the sense of the policy acknowledging it.

    • By illegal they meant against police department policy. That means instead of going to jail, anyone breaking the rules will get a slap on the wrist or a verbal warning or like 1 day suspension.
  • Dropbox (Score:5, Informative)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:17AM (#40790793)

    I installed dropbox onto my cell phone, and now every time I take a photo with my cell, it gets automatically uploaded.

    I can't think of a better way to handle such abuses.

    • Re:Dropbox (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AHuxley (892839) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:23AM (#40790879) Homepage Journal
      Thats very neat and an idea that so many people may not have thought of.
      Set up some blog or guide or webpage for that so others can learn how to use their phones web features.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by schlachter (862210)

      iCloud does the same.

    • Re:Dropbox (Score:5, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054) * on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:24AM (#40790893)

      So when they grab your phone they also get to trawl your dropbox?
      You'd be better off choosing an upload site out of the country with contribute only access from the phone.

      • Re:Dropbox (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ilsaloving (1534307) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:26AM (#40790921)

        Well, it would probably be a good idea to offload anything in your dropbox to a safe location, AND change your password.

        There are plenty of options, but Dropbox is the most ubiquitous one.

      • Re:Dropbox (Score:5, Informative)

        by unk98 (1525843) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:30AM (#40790971)
        Dropbox does allow you to set a separate password to open the app on the phone. Might help a bit.
      • Re:Dropbox (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Feyshtey (1523799) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:07AM (#40791691)
        That could make for a very interesting legal case... Grabbing a phone and destroying the memory card is one thing, but what are the legal ramifications of an officer illegally searching a storage technology on a server almost assuredly in another state over wired technology, and then destroying evidence there?

        Does that constitute destruction of evidence and property, interstate (federal?) jurisdiction violations, and potentially wire fraud charges?

        Destroying an SD card kills the ability to prove much. But servers would retain records of transactions.
        • Re:Dropbox (Score:5, Informative)

          by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:51AM (#40792333)

          That could make for a very interesting legal case... Grabbing a phone and destroying the memory card is one thing, but what are the legal ramifications of an officer illegally searching a storage technology on a server almost assuredly in another state over wired technology, and then destroying evidence there?

          Hacking laws: Accessing another's computer or server without or exceeding authorisation.

        • Re:Dropbox (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:19PM (#40792715)

          If the user was guilty of some infraction that justified taking the phone/card, then destroying the card (or even just deleting photos) is destruction of evidence.

          If the user wasn't guilty of any infraction that justifies taking the phone/card, then destroying the card (or even just deleting photos) is illegal seizure of property.

          Either situation can result in Bad Things for the officer involved.

        • Re:Dropbox (Score:4, Insightful)

          by sjames (1099) on Friday July 27, 2012 @02:52PM (#40795113) Homepage

          If the law was FULLY followed, a police officer grabbing the phone without a valid reason (particularly after a memo from the chief clarifying that) is guilty of armed robbery and the fact that it was done under the color of law is an extra aggravating factor. Not seeing the memo is no defense since for anyone else "ignorance of the law is no excuse".

          So the question is, does the D.C. Police Department willingly employ armed robbers as officers?

    • Re:Dropbox (Score:4, Funny)

      by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:46AM (#40791289)
      I believe Google Drive can do this as well. I know for a fact that you can also do this with Google+, but I'm betting the 17 people actively using G+ already know this.
      • by Antarius (542615)
        I'm one of those 17, and just for that purpose.

        I've never made a Google+ posting, but it's great to have the backup of my photos! :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I installed dropbox onto my cell phone, and now every time I take a photo with my cell, it gets automatically uploaded.

      I can't think of a better way to handle such abuses.

      I can. It is really simple. Install Google+ and turn on Google Instant. The same thing you get with Dropbox, but it uploads to a private area on Google+. There are integrated editing tools crop, exposure, etc. right there on the G+ site too. The only thing Dropbox would do that might be more useful would be automatically syncing it back to your computer too. But all of the other features of Google Instant are better. I even use it for getting screenshots of messages from lab machines, etc. When I get back t

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      better be fast with getting to your dropbox and copying it before they log in and delete it.

      • and then you can use the "previous versions" feature to undelete the pictures plus

        "and then the officers in full knowledge of the contents deleted a remote backup of the pictures in question to cover up their obvious abuse of civil rights and grievous assault on this innocent citizen"

        or a simple court order could have DropBox fishing in their backups for the files

    • Google Plus and Drive have similar options for people who use those.

      The Google Plus option is nice because it uploads all the images to an album only visible to yourself, which you can then choose to share directly on Plus later.

    • by scubamage (727538)
      You know, what would be neat is if the EFF and ACLU joined forces and set up something that does the same for android and IOS. Let you automatically upload files, and be able to live stream video to a secure server somewhere (think ustream). Also, it could have a reference on your rights for each particular state and what to say to the officer ("No officer, under statute 123 of Pennsylvania you can't take it. Also, according to the supreme court ruling of Blahblah v US you're actions are illegal. If you con
    • Re:Dropbox (Score:4, Interesting)

      by IorDMUX (870522) <mark@zimmerman3.gmail@com> on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:31AM (#40792065) Homepage
      This: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2406764,00.asp [pcmag.com]

      It's an app from the ACLU which lets you one-touch photograph or video an event and upload it to a secure location. (There is also plenty of useful information and now-what guides for interacting with police, laywers, an arrest, etc.) A very useful app [that I did not write].

      Spread the word. Get the eyes watching the watchers.
    • get the justin.tv app for your android phone -- an iphone version is coming soon. it records your video on their servers -- basically it's cloud video. even if the cops take your device you can give the press your justin.tv channel name and rebroadcast the police wrongdoing all you want.

      http://www.justin.tv/p/android [justin.tv]
    • I can't think of a better way to handle such abuses.

      Similarly, activists have been using Qik [qik.com] video streaming for a few years. They have decent social network integration, so you also have a way to let your friends know you've just been repressed.

      Arranging a social group who will actually do anything when you post a video of you being repressed is not included. Best to do that part ahead of time.

  • Well... (Score:4, Funny)

    by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:18AM (#40790797)
    That sure didn't last long.
  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:18AM (#40790807)
    Remove the memory card indeed!
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Then it would have been "accidentally" destroyed.

      A smartphone that uploads all its photos to the web is the way to go for this kind of thing.

      • by tooyoung (853621)

        Should have used an iPhone!

        Then it would have been "accidentally" destroyed. A smartphone that uploads all its photos to the web is the way to go for this kind of thing.

        Maybe Apple should come up with a solution like that. They could call it iCloud.

  • by na1led (1030470) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:18AM (#40790809)
    This isn't much news, it's what goes on everyday, despite what any says.
    • Doesn't make it right and this shit needs to be exposed. "any" is a dumb shit.
    • by NEW22 (137070) on Friday July 27, 2012 @01:26PM (#40793757)

      Please don't be "Is anyone really surprised?" guy. I hate that guy. He is one of the standard guys that makes his comment in stories on the internet. Maybe some people are surprised, which the question seems to imply that someone would be sort of dumb to be surprised. Most of the people, however, are not really surprised at all but thought it was an important issue to bring up. The "Is anyone really surprised?" guy seems to be telling them that the whole issue is a waste of time, and they should just kind of shut up about it. Sometimes, though, "Is anyone really surprised?" guy is just trying to look detached and cool, like he's seen it all before, and its all old hat now, and he has to let people know he's detached and cool like that. I don't know which variety of "Is anyone really surprised?" commenter you are, but I've never seen that guy's comment bring good things to a conversation.

      Please don't be "Is anyone really surprised?" guy.

      Thank you.

  • So Kick His Ass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spritzer (950539) * on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:19AM (#40790815) Journal
    In the state of Georgia I have the right to use deadly force to protect my property from being forcibly taken from me. Sure, it would be a stretch, but my point is the officer committed a forcible felony. Charge him.
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      In the District of Columbia, no one has any rights.
    • Re:So Kick His Ass (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:35AM (#40791057) Homepage

      In the state of Georgia I have the right to use deadly force to protect my property from being forcibly taken from me. Sure, it would be a stretch, but my point is the officer committed a forcible felony. Charge him.

      Don't ever resist an officer with force, because after whatever violence the cops do response you're pretty much guaranteed to lose in court. Resist as this guy did, gathering evidence and filing appropriate legal claims. That does in fact make a difference for somebody else, while beating up a cop doesn't help anybody.

      See a cop interacting with a citizen, film it. If the cops harass you for filming, do your best to call attention to the encounter so that somebody else can film them going after you for filming them. And if the cops go after that guy, help ensure somebody else is filming them do that. Each time you do that, you're either eventually going to have physical evidence of what they're up to, or a steadily increasing pool of witnesses, both of which will help you win in court and actually change the policy and the practice.

      • by Spritzer (950539) *
        I'm not advocating it nor would I do it. My point is that under the letter of the law it would be justified due to the fact that the officer was committing a forcible felony and theoretically armed robbery. I realize this was in DC where the value of goods stolen may be higher to constitute a felony, but at a minimum it was a forcible misdemeanor. Since it could be contrued as armed robbery under DC law that is definitely a felony.

        DC Robbery law
        Robbery in D.C. is a felony, with a penalty of 2 to 15 years imprisonment. Using a weapon in the commission of the theft from the person turns the offense into armed robbery. A conviction for srmed robbery could increase the maximum sentence to 30 years.

        GEORGIA ROBBERY CRIMES OCGA 16-8-40
        A robbery can occur by:

        Use of force;
        Intimidation, threat, or placing the other person in fear of immediate serious bodily injury to himself or another; or
        By sudden snatching.

        Punishment for Robbery
        Punishment for Robbery can be imprisonment for 1-20 years with one exception. If the robbery is committed on someone 65 years old or older, the punishment is 5-20 years.

        ARMED ROBBERY OCGA 16-8-41
        An Armed Robbery is a robbery committed with an offensive weapon, any replica of an offensive weapon, or a device having the appearance of any such weapon. It is actually possible to be convicted of armed robbery if you did not have a weapon. For example, if you put your hand in your pocket and cause someone to believe you have a gun, you could be convicted of Armed Robbery.

        Punishment for Armed Robbery
        Depending upon the circumstances, punishment for Armed Robbery can be
        Death penalty;
        Life in prison;
        No less than 10 nor more than 20 years in prison. Keep in mind that the minimum prison time is 10 years with no early release.

        Defense of property other than habitation; Lethal force cannot be used to protect real property unless the person using such force reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.(16-3-24)

        Forcible Felony - Any felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any person. (16-1-3 as used anywhere in Chapter 16, except 16-11-131)

    • Apparently you still think you live in some sort of egalitarian democracy where the rule of law is enforced. Newsflash. That ship has sailed.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      That would be justice, if our system were just enough to let it prevail.

    • Re:So Kick His Ass (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PatDev (1344467) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:48AM (#40791361)
      If you live anywhere in the states you should be aware that, unless you are fabulously wealthy or powerful, there are not limits on what the police can do. There may be limits on what the police are legally allowed to do, but attempting to stop a cop from doing an illegal thing they want to do is going to lead to conflict with a police officer, which will lead to a disorderly-conduct or similar arrest.

      Treat a cop the same way you would treat a 12-foot gator in the backyard. Keep your distance if possible. Never anger it. Appease it until it is gone, and call in a greater power ASAP. For a croc you call animal control, for a cop you call the only higher power citizens have access to - a lawyer.

      The actual gap between the power a cop has and the power you have in literally any interaction makes any other course of action untenably risky.
      • Treat a cop the same way you would treat a 12-foot gator in the backyard. Keep your distance if possible. Never anger it. Appease it until it is gone, and call in a greater power ASAP. For a croc you call animal control, for a cop you call the only higher power citizens have access to - a lawyer.

        I thought you were going to say "... for a cop you call the only higher power citizens have access to - The A-Team. [youtube.com]"

  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Antipater (2053064) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:21AM (#40790855)
    The phone shouldn't have been wearing such slutty firmware. It was just asking for this to happen!
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:27AM (#40790935) Homepage Journal

    "Gimme yer phone, punk"

    "Where's the memory card?"

    "There is no memory card, the video was sent directly to the cloud."

    Oops!

  • by jdavidb (449077) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:30AM (#40790973) Homepage Journal

    Just one day after Chief Cathy Lanier made it illegal for MPD cops to take recording equipment

    My understanding is that the court system ruled it was illegal weeks or months before Chief Lanier's announcement. Lanier didn't make anything illegal or change the law. Lanier simply issued a decree to the MPD informing them of the law and directing them to comply with it.

    And of course, with or without the court's ruling, the chief's decree, or any legislative action, it was always immoral for police to confiscate private property when no crime has been committed. Tyranny is still "illegal" (i.e., in violation of the natural law giving us the right to life, liberty, and property) whether or not the legal system supports it or condemns it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My understanding is that the court system ruled it was illegal weeks or months before Chief Lanier's announcement. Lanier didn't make anything illegal or change the law. Lanier simply issued a decree to the MPD informing them of the law and directing them to comply with it.

      Yes, it's true. Neither the court's ruling or the Chief's announcement made it illegal. It always was. The big difference is that, unlike real people, the police normally get to claim ignorance of the law. If these allegations turn out to be true, the police chief will find it hard to justify a slap on the wrist. I don't trust him to do the right thing, but people are going to hold his feet to the fire on this one.

  • Live stream (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bobbutts (927504) <bobbutts@gmail.com> on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:34AM (#40791031)
    With a modern phone and decent coverage you can use Ustream [ustream.tv] or Bambuser [bambuser.com]

    Either of these will re-broadcast your video live and also create an archive for watching in the future.
  • 1 DEMAND that his memory card be returned to him Intact and certified as not having been copied (or any copies made have been destroyed)

    2 speak to a lawyer about suing the officer (not the PD the actual Officer in question) for "theft of images for the purpose of creating Child Pornography" (this is an optional Nuclear Option but..)

    3 DEMAND that the officer be put on not less than 10 days UNPAID leave

    • So how do you compel them to comply with your DEMANDs?

  • Qik (Score:3, Informative)

    by eyeota (686153) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:37AM (#40791107)
    qik.com [qik.com] has an app for iPhone/Android, etc allows you to stream video you're recording directly to your account over 3G/4G, etc. People dealing with TSA Abuse have been documenting and recording them using this app and similar. Even if your phone is confiscated, the video is already on the server.
  • Hopefully the law breaker, I mean the police officer, will be charged with assault and theft under, then prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
  • If you want to record cops beating someone up, you need to buy a camera they cant spot.

    http://looxcie.com/ [looxcie.com]

    I have one and it works great. I havent caught a cop beating someone up, but it works awesome for other uses as well.

    and cops are far too stupid to realize your bluetooth headset is a camera.

  • it would have been great if he had simply blanked the memory card and handed it back. It would have given a forensics app something to work with.
  • by colordev (1764040) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:55AM (#40791493) Homepage

    The Android “Police Tape” app records video and audio discreetly, disappearing from the screen once the recording begins to prevent any attempt by police to squelch the recording. In addition to keeping a copy on the phone itself, the user can choose to send it to the ACLU-NJ for backup storage and analysis of possible civil liberties violations

    more information here [aclu-nj.org]

    an iPhone version is probably still awaiting approval from Apple

  • At least for iPhones (which wouldn't have a memory card anyway), you have an instant upload such as what is available with G+ that automatically puts new pics into a special folder online. Same that you can enable on DropBox as well. I'm sure there are many more apps that do this automatically as well without needing to run a special app, they just do it automatically. While technically it's not direct upload to the cloud or instant unless you take with the app itself, by the time they get around to it, g
  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.aclunj.policetape&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsIm9yZy5hY2x1bmoucG9saWNldGFwZSJd [google.com] description: Citizens can hold police accountable in the palms of their hands with "Police Tape," a smartphone application from the ACLU of New Jersey that allows people to securely and discreetly record and store interactions with police, as well as provide legal information about citizens' rights when interacting with the police.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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