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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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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:Chief? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:29AM (#40790957)

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

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Re:Dropbox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:39AM (#40791173) Homepage Journal

    Do you think these dim bulbs would even think of Dropbox and instant-upload features?

    Sounds like the police observer handbook needs to be updated. Everyone that wants to document possible police action should now do this.

  • Re:Dropbox (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:45AM (#40791265)
    Most people are not interested in jail breaking their iPhone.
  • 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.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:54AM (#40791487)

    What keeps the police from issuing a statement that puts the record straight? If I'm not too mistaken, they even have a PR department just for this reason, have the spin doctors work for their dough!

    Of course it is possible to show the police in an unfavorable light by showing selected snippets of a video, there are, though, a few things that you simply cannot explain with "selective reporting". Like, say, beating a person who is already lying on the floor and trying desperately to keep the blows from hitting his face...

  • Re:Chief? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:05AM (#40791655) Homepage

    Yes, but the policy was in response to courts upholding that people have the right to photograph police.

    This is an explicit policy which re-affirms case law, and is a reminder that police have no legal right to seize the phone or the memory card.

    I bet you also have policies at work that say you're not allowed to do anything illegal.

  • 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:Next time .. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JudgeFurious (455868) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:29PM (#40792889)
    Actually, it was my experience that the police academy was an odd mix of high school bullies and the bullied. I was in law enforcement many years ago until I injured my back (at home, in no way work related or anything) and I noticed this right away. You expected to see the bullies there in some number and I guess the bullied makes sense too. What was strange to me was how they got along. The bullies accepted those same people they would have been abusing years before because they were on the same "team" so to speak. The formerly bullied felt like big men being in the company of the tough guys which changed a lot of their attitudes and not for the better. Everyone thinks police are bigots but the truth is actually worse than that. Black people think the police discriminate against them and not whites. Hispanics think the same thing. Whites think they're special and that they get better treatment. The reality though is that all cops are bigots. The only color they like is blue. To most of them "we are all equally worthless".
  • Re:Chief? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:44PM (#40793109) Homepage

    Yes, but the policy was in response to courts upholding that people have the right to photograph police.

    This is an explicit policy which re-affirms case law, and is a reminder that police have no legal right to seize the phone or the memory card.

    I bet you also have policies at work that say you're not allowed to do anything illegal.

    I follow a lot of these cases, and part of the problem is the language that folks use around it. When you use the word "sieze", you're suggesting that the officer took an action as directed by statute or policy. What the officer did is either "theft" or "robbery", depending on the circumstances. It sound like the initial taking of the phone was a robbery, which is defined as taking something by force.

    As I said about the original policies, they don't matter simply because everything there is already illegal. Note: not "against our policies" or some other administrative issue: ILLEGAL. That means that when an officer robs someone of their phone they have committed a crime. That makes them a criminal.

    The set of directives was issued as part of a settlement. Might I suggest to the ACLU that the next time they do this they come up with a much much simpler set of directives, as follows:

    1. __________ PD will arrest and charge all officers who have committed crimes, using the same evidentiary standards as would be used with the general public.

    2. Failure to do so will result in _________ PD forfeiting this settlement and will instead invoke the secondary settlement of $xmillion.

    That's all it needs to say.

    We need to quit acting like these slime balls are telling the truth when they claim they didn't know it was "wrong" (illegal, against policy, whatever) to take someone's phone or camera, or to erase the pictures, or to illegally arrest someone. They're lying when they say that. They know it's illegal, so let's quit acting like maybe they didn't know and start prosecuting.

    We need to hold our police officers to a *higher* standard, and we need to tell the unions where to go when they get all mad about it.

  • 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.

  • 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?

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