Archive for the 'Police Harassment' Category

Wahpeton Police Officer Dustin Hill Unlawfully Arrests Underage Videographer

To voice your concerns regarding Officer Dustin Hill’s behavior and unlawful arrest of Robert Wanek, contact the Wahpeton Police Department:

Police Cheif Scott Thorsteinson
Wahpeton Police Department
413 3rd Ave N # 18
Wahpeton, ND 58075-4427
(701) 642-7722

UPDATE:  The voicemail box for the above number is full as of 12:36 on May 9.  So hopefully people are calling to voice their concerns regarding Wanek’s unlawful arrest.

Complaint Against LAPD’s Paul Espinoza Sustained

I was detained again recently (actually handcuffed and placed in the patrol unit) in Hollywood while photographing some people I’ve been following for a couple of weeks. My account of what happened, along with my footage (which is securely online already and stored on multiple hard drives that are not at my residence), will be released in the near future, but the experience has motivated me to finally comment on some letters I received in November 2010 from LAPD’s Chief of Police Charlie Beck and Paul Espinoza—the Northeast Patrol Division officer who unlawfully detained me because I photographed him and his partner performing a traffic stop on Hollywood Boulevard in February 2010.

The first paragraph of Chief Beck’s letter states the following:

An investigation into your complaint that was reported on February 21, 2010, regarding the conduct of an employee of the Los Angeles Police Department has been completed.  The investigation has gone through several levels of review, including myself and the command staff of Internal Affairs Group.  Your allegations that an officer was discourteous and unlawfully detained you were classified as Sustained.  This means the investigation determined that the act alleged occurred and constitutes misconduct.  An appropriate penalty will be imposed; however, Penal Code Section 832. 5 precludes me from disclosing the specific penalty.

And Paul Espinoza’s apology letter says:

I am the officer with whom you had contact on February 21, 2010.  You should know there was a complaint lodged against me and I am sure you will be informed by the Department that complaint has been sustained.  I wanted to write you a personal letter to apologize for my actions on that day.  The Department has provided me training and I assure you I will handle similar situations in the future much differently.  I am very proud to be a Los Angeles Police Officer and will do my best to serve you and the community to the best of my abilities in the future.

I hope the next time we meet it is under better circumstances.  Again, please accept my apologies.

When I first received the letters I was initially pleased and certainly felt vindicated—especially towards my harshest online critics who inaccurately claimed that I was never detained and should have waited for the supervisor to arrive to say whatever it is that they thought I should have said to him.

Well, as all will know now, as some of us already knew then—I was unlawfully detained and treated disrespectfully. It’s that simple, and for full-brained people it really isn’t all that hard of a reality to grasp once you see the video.

As for the people who criticized me for not sticking around to speak to the supervisor, what they may not realize is the fact that speaking to a supervisor might well not resolve anything. More important, I don’t need to complain to Espinoza’s superior at the time; I can complain by filing a complaint with LAPD later. The two do not go hand in hand. Which, are both very good reasons why I left.

This was not my first time being detained, and I understand how the detainment and complaint process works. Plus, I have a lawyer friend who I can contact when I need advice or a legal question answered.

So once all the Monday-morning shutterbugs decide to stop taking family portraits, studio shots of fruit and martini glasses, and macro-shots of flowers and bugs and get their detainment cherry popped for taking legal pictures in public (which are decent enough to share with the rest of the world), then I’ll listen to what they have to say.

Sorry to digress, but all things must be addressed.

Then I read the letters again and thought about the outcome a little more. What did they do to make sure Espinoza wouldn’t do something like this again? And why does California Penal Code Section 832.5 (as well 832.7) prevent me and the public from knowing Espinoza’s “appropriate penalty”? For all I know, Espinoza’s appropriate penalty was to write a forced apology letter because he was caught on video screaming about his First Amendment rights, while at the same exact moment derailing my constitutional rights.

I should have the right to know Espinoza’s penalty, and so should you. We have the right to know the complaint history against all law enforcement officers in this country. This should be easily accessible information, rather than locked up and hidden from public scrutiny.

Penal codes such as 832.5 and 832.7 (which prevent LAPD from releasing information even about complaints that were determined valid), should not exist because all they do is raise credibility issues within the confines of law enforcement and stir contempt throughout the public.

We need to change this.

Push Comes to Shove for Arizona Police

This week at a contentious school board meeting in Tucson, KOLD News 13 photographer Edgar Ybarra was shoved by Tucson Police officers and barred from covering the event.  Police defended their actions and said he was in the way; Police Chief Roberto Villasenor told KOLD he “was standing right in the pathway” and refused to leave. Ybarra said he was just trying to cover the story. The video shows what seems to be unnecessary aggression against Ybarra. 

As the Tucson Weekly reports:

KOLD cameraman and filmmaker Edgar Ybarra, who was following police and Castillo with his camera, was roughly pushed by the police and forced out of the building along with Baldenegro, Garcia, Rodriguez and several other activists. (It’s important to note that Ybarra tried to get the police to let him back in so he could continue to work, while his reporter co-worker waited for him in the lobby. They refused to let him back in, although they did let another cameraman in to continue working.)

Maybe shoving is something taught in police school in Arizona? It seems so by the looks of this video, where a 15-year-old girl is slammed to the ground by Phoenix Police Officer Patrick Larrison. (Go to about 1:56 if you want to see something truly alarming.) Amazingly, the police department wasn’t aware of the incident until a staffer saw the video on YouTube and alerted the higher-ups. There is now a criminal and internal investigation underway in that case.

Source: KOLD and Tuscson Citizen

Man Arrested For Filming Police – From His Garage

Abuse of power at its most worrisome:

The trouble started when Lonnel Duchine saw police detaining a group of juveniles at gunpoint. Having his camera-equipped phone on him, Duchine started to film the events as they unfolded. However, once they knew they were on camera, backup officers not directly taking part in the investigation approached Duchine, demanding that he hand over the phone as evidence. When he refused, Duchine was cuffed and informed that he was being charged with interfering with police business.


Vallejo Cop Trespasses, Violates Homeowner’s Civil Rights

If this were anybody else other than a cop, they would be in jail right now.  But we all know how the law doesn’t work when it comes to cops breaking the law and violating people’s civil rights.  The settlement from this lawsuit needs to come out of this cop’s own wallet and not the taxpayers.  But before that happens, this hero should be fired and then face a judge.

To voice your concerns regarding this officer’s behavior, contact Vallejo’s Chief of Police Robert W. Nichelini:

Chief Robert W. Nichelini
111 Amador St., Vallejo, CA 94590
(707) 648-4321

El Paso PD Bully, Threaten Anyone Who Records Them

Sounds like the police in El Paso are resorting to good old fashioned bully tactics when it comes to photography and video. Dan Wild told the local NBC affiliate KTSM that police took his camera and deleted all the photos on it after he recorded a raid on a suspect’s house in his neighborhood two years ago. The officer told Wild it was a felony to film a police raid. (I feel like I’ve heard that one before….)

Wild came forward after KTSM aired a report last week on a taxicab inspector named Jesus Lopez-Ledesma who was bullied by El Paso police for recording a confrontational traffic stop with his cell phone. In that incident, officers threatened Lopez-Ledesma’s job and told him that they would give the driver they pulled over his driver’s license information so she could sue him for violating her privacy. (See the video here.) The El Paso police spokesman claimed the officers didn’t do anything wrong and weren’t using intimidation tactics. (That, despite one officer saying, “I’m sure your licensing, your job, depends on your cooperation with the El Paso Police Department.”)

“If we allow police to pick and choose who can film or photograph and who can’t then we might as well call the quits on democracy,” [First Amendment rights expert] David Cuillier said.

Let’s not do that. That seems lame.

Source: KTSM News Channel 9

Pennsylvania Cop Lies About Wiretapping Law, Then Backtracks

New Jersey’s “Finest” Terrorists

Via The Agitator

Purdue U. Cop Harasses Student Journalist

He may be at the beginning of his journalism career, but Michael Carney got a crash course in police intimidation tactics this past October. Carney, who is the multimedia editor for the Exponent, Purdue University’s newspaper, was intimidated, harassed and blocked by a campus police officer while trying to film in the student center. Carney was there to cover early voting, but when a woman collapsed he switched gears to film as the emergency medical team arrived.

Officer Jeff Hegg ordered Carney to shut the camera off (reason? “medical emergency”), threw out the “invasion of privacy” card, told him he wasn’t “understanding nothing” and was “disobeying a police officer,” questioned why he was shaking, accused him of “making a scene,” called his ID into the station, picked up and moved his tripod, and finally, threatened to put him “in the backseat of my car for not obeying a police officer’s command.”

And though Officer Hegg claimed he was asking him “to turn it off nicely,” he actually wasn’t. He was using classic intimidation tactics to bully Carney and prevent him from exercising his rights in a public place. His only excuse seems to be that he’s unfortunately so ignorant, he didn’t even know he was enforcing non-existent laws.

“There seemed to be a lack of understanding among both the officer involved and the paramedics or people at the voting booth who were trying to block the reporter’s view,” [Hoosier State Press Association's Steve] Key said. “They fail to understand the rights of someone to take pictures in a public place or the policy, why you have that ability to have pictures of public official doing their jobs, whether it’s a police officer or someone helping someone with a medical emergency … ”

The Exponent has filed a complaint with the Purdue police department and fire department and are awaiting the outcome of their investigations.

Source: Exponent

Cop Illegally Confiscates iPhone at TSA Checkpoint

From YouTube:

While legally filming a TSA enhanced screening pat-down at Nashville International Airport I was confronted by an Airport Police Officer and told to stop filming. The officer later removed my iPhone from my hands, despite my protests, saying “I don’t need a warrant.”

When TSA officials told him I was within my rights to shoot footage of the checkpoint, he gave the phone back to me. As I was leaving, TSA agents insisted that I could not show the footage without their permission, which is false.

This occurred at Nashville International Airport in Nashville, Tenn., Monday November 22, 2010. at 5:30pm CT.

ALSO: Blogger/photographer Steven Frischling writes that he was harassed by the TSA at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT. While photographing TSA checkpoints, he was stopped by a Connecticut State Trooper who informed him that “photographing a TSA security checkpoint was illegal, and specifically a ‘Federal Offense.'”

Frischling knows his rights, though and informed said trooper specifically that, “the TSA publicly states that photography of checkpoints is legal, with limited restrictions.” (Uh….just how do you think all those photos of celebs going through airport security get into Us Weekly?!) The officer accused Frischling of hiding and concealing his camera, then detained him, and then another plainsclothes TSA employee in some unidentified capacity showed up — which is when Frischling speed-dialed the TSA communications office.

Less than 20 minutes after I was told I was being detained and that I was not free to leave the terminal the TSA agent approached the State Trooper, whispered something in the Trooper’s ear and I was quickly apologized to … with that both the TSA agent and the Trooper quickly leaving me alone.

The TSA has a major image problem right now, if you hadn’t heard. They’re already treading on a perilously thin line, quickly heading into invasion-of-privacy territory. So you’d think they’d train their officers, employees and the state police that work the airports of their clearly stated photography regulations. And maybe then those TSA personnel could instead focus on feeling up passengers.


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