LA County Sheriff Harasses Photographer, Unlawfully Orders Him to Move From a Public Sidewalk

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22 Responses to “LA County Sheriff Harasses Photographer, Unlawfully Orders Him to Move From a Public Sidewalk”


  1. 1 steeltoad September 27, 2011 at 5:37 am

    Get names and badge numbers ALWAYS, preferably at the start of any conversation.

    • 2 discarted September 27, 2011 at 9:54 am

      I know, just forgot this time.

  2. 3 keith September 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Feedback to the LASD:

    Here is a recent video of one of your county boys being a total f*ckt*rd and making up pretend statutes because he does not want a photographer on the sidewalk. I am curious if this officer is getting a Christmas bonus from the business owner or the Hollywood business club. That is a direct question.

  3. 4 Strategic Litigator September 28, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Well, this one is problematic to prove to a jury since the deputy very obliquely mentions his intention of protecting the privacy of the person in the car who a jury member might assume is in medical distress. He has a right to sue you, the deputy warned.

    And yes, most people believe those in a medical emergency have elevated right to privacy from having images of their distress published. Has that been decided at law? Perhaps not fully, but considering Shulman v. Group W Productions, Inc. 18 Cal.4th 200, one could predict that such a law could be ruled constitutional by current Supreme Courts. (Admittedly the key to Shulman was audio recording, and Shulman occurred inside the closed space of a medivac.)

    The photographer asks an important question. Is the sidewalk closed? Obviously, the policeman was attempting to “close” the sidewalk to photography.

    So what is a cop to do? Should police be allowed to veil a person whose medical condition causes them to become naked or dead in the public area? No? Well that answer will not fly with a jury. Cops have a right to create a shield of privacy. Can they create that shield with an invisible fence? Can the privacy shield discriminate against a person using the perception distorting and enhancement device that is a camera? I don’t think that has been determined in court.

    The Supervisor is obviously a jerk or actually in need of servicing some other business. I’ll wager the former.

    I know that place where the W and the MTA abut each other and have traversed it many dozens of times on the way to the ArcLight theater a few blocks away. Clearly there is a sidewalk there that is open to the public. I would be very surprised if the Section 1008 parcel boundary delineation brass in the walkway is out by the curb in front of MTA. But I know it was a massive redevelopment project that may have had special title. But the likelihood of the police being correct is very very low.

  4. 5 discarted September 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Thanks for your remarks, but I wanted to respond.

    1. The cop doesn’t obliquely mention he’s trying to protect the privacy of the man. He was simply making up nonsense to get the photographer to stop taking pictures in public space. He was grasping for straws the entire time.

    2. If anything the Sheriff claimed was not fabricated, the photographer would’ve been detained or arrested. However, the Sheriff was making everything up in order to get the photographer to stop taking pictures. This is why none of the other cops on scene reacted to the photographer taking pictures. He has a First Amendment right to do so.

    3. “And yes, most people believe those in a medical emergency have elevated right to privacy from having images of their distress published.”

    Is this your opinion, or based on actual facts? Using rhetoric like this is not helpful at all, and actually dangerous, because it fosters opinions based on nothing but someone’s own opinion instead of relying on the truth or real statistics. For the record, I don’t believe an injured person has a right to privacy if they’re in public. And if that were the case we wouldn’t have video or photos of the injured during the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, Katrina, or any other catastrophe.

    4. The Supreme Court has rule that the dead lose all rights to privacy. For instance, a dead person’s social security number becomes part of the public record when they die. You can easily obtain this information.

    5. People receiving medical attention in public (including inside of Ambulances with open doors or visible through the windows) can be photographed/videotaped. This is not a violation of HIPAA. The sheriffs were even videotaping the alleged victim and alleged suspect. I’m a certified EMT, so I’m well aware of what violates HIPAA and what doesn’t.

    6. “…the perception distorting and enhancement device that is a camera?”

    This is simple opinion and subjective and contrary to the belief that the videotape never lies. But again, this dangerous and baseless rhetoric used to sway opinion and win the layman’s support. Government officials use this tactic all the time to create fear and so forth.

    7. Despite the W redevelopment project, the sidewalk in front of the Metro and the W is public. No work was done or improvements were made to the sidewalk during the development of the hotel. The sidewalk was actually never closed during the construction of the hotel. The Metro (which is partially funded by tax dollars), permits photography in publicly accessible areas. The cop should also not be enforcing a private company’s policies—despite what they may actually be.

    The cop was wrong and was either lying the entire time, or had no idea what he was talking about regarding actual law. Which is far too common for cops in this country.

  5. 6 Strategic Litigator September 29, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Discarted,

    You are doing a fine job documenting the denial or destruction of Constitutional rights to photograph and the pressure to further limit practice of those rights. I think you know I agree with those propositions. But your response to my message also shows your perception is also skewed and someone lacking.

    It is possible for both to be true, and your work still be very valuable to the protection of photographer’s ciivl rights.

    1. The jury is going to decide the facts not you nor I nor the cops. That is the problematic I was attempting to convey, and that had the cop not said what your opinion declares as nonsense, the jury would have less to hang some opinion that the cop did have a legitimate reason for stopping the photography.

    2. Deputies fail to arrest people who they see commit crimes everyday. They have discretion to shine on some things and they do so. What you were doing was just not an arrest in his opinion. As for the other cops, I am not going to re-run the scene, but I recall a whole bunch of them looking into the car and did not even realize the photographer was there, and even if they had, one cop was all that was needed to handle the photographer.

    3. Sure. My opinion about what the opinion of others is. Fine.

    Ah, the truth. Much of what you write is purely your opinion, and descriptions your subjective perception of reality. You label it the truth, almost with a big ole T as if doing so will induce others to also label it as truth. You proceed to label such unsubstantiated “common knowledge” type as misleading rhetoric the proceed to lay one whopper of your own? Could it be the reason we have video of all those catastrophes is that a) the photographer did not know the rights of people in public, b) law and order non-operative during the aftermath of the catastrophe, or c) people who saw photographs of themselves who thought their rights were violated did not have the money after all the doctors bills to bother suing the photographer in civil court? Anyone of those could be the reason such photos exist and are even published.

    I acknowledge you think people have no right to privacy when they are in public. But that proposition has not by any means generally been established at law.

    4. Dead people? Talk about rhetorical devices non-sequitir and irrelevant? One thought about the definition is “the right to be left alone, not to be bothered”. We have not yet discovered how to bother dead people, so the point as to whether it is legal to try is quite moot and the law does not deal with that which is moot.

    5. Your response seems to be a red herring or straw man. Again, what photography “can” occur, what legally violates privacy, and HIPPA do not reside in precisely the same space. They may overlap but none of those things is completely engulfed by any other.

    And I was merely suggesting an example that tells us something about how a Supreme Court might rule in favor of a “privacy in public” rule just as they have ruled we have no right to obscenity. One may think that ruling incorrect and that we all have a right to obscenity as well.

    6. Wow!

    Just to be clear about what was meant, instead of “perception distorting” I perhaps should have said “distorter of objective real world …” for the camera does not distort the viewer’s perception as Magritte’s “This is not a Pipe” attempts to instruct. But the camera does record a representation which is a distortion of the original scene. A scene is captured by camera, the impression of the capture (the resulting re-presentation) can be discerned from that original which was the subject of the attempt. You were there. Are you suggesting that what you see looking at the video representation of the perspective of the camera is identical to the scene as seen from precisely the same perspective? I think not, and I hope not.

    I did think you would be more sophisticated and educated than to think the camera captures objective truth or objective reality. But the way you argue, one could believe you believe that the videotape not only does not lie but that the videotape tells the truth, and perhaps even “the whole truth”.

    Of course the camera never lies for lying is an act of a sentient being intending to deceive. Cameras indeed do not lie nor do they tell the truth for the reason that they have no capability to do either. They are merely tools for the teller. And the story told is necessarily limited by the limits and capability of the camera.

    7. Concur that cops should not enforce private policies. And as I intimated, the cop is with great certainly wrong about any claim that the sidewalk there being privately owned.

    • 7 discarted October 14, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      Here’s more proof that photographing people in public receiving medical treatment does not violate HIPAA or the person’s privacy, including taking photographs through an ambulance’s windows. On top of that, you can also photograph people who are inside their homes but visible through windows and doors. Here are a bunch of photos from a recent incident involving a pit bull attack that reinforce this fact.

      http://westcharlotte.wbtv.com/photo-gallery/crime/68031-wild-scene-after-pit-bull-attack?page=1

  6. 8 discarted September 29, 2011 at 11:04 am

    It’s quite the opposite.

    For instance, you claim the following( as though it were fact, with a big ole F) 🙂

    “As for the other cops, I am not going to re-run the scene, but I recall a whole bunch of them looking into the car and did not even realize the photographer was there, and even if they had, one cop was all that was needed to handle the photographer.”

    You’re wrong (you do realize I’m the photographer in the video), and the cops (at least some at first, but eventually all of them) were aware of my presence, especially after the Sheriff told me to move. Which, I did. After that, I stayed on scene for well over 30 minutes (in order to speak to the supervisor) and many officers glanced or stared at me throughout that time. That portion of video was cut out for YouTube and because nothing happens.

    However, from my new location, which actually turned out better for me because the suspect was now right in front of me, I continued to take photos of the cops, the suspect, and the victim as he was wheeled by me in the stretcher. It appeared at times the police tried to shield him in an attempt to prevent me from photographing him, but since what everything the Sheriff said to me earlier was complete nonsense, none of the other cops approached me again. Which is because I have a constitutional right to take photos in public of everything I can see, including injured people receiving medical attention on a public sidewalk or in the back of an ambulance with its doors open (or through its windows). You probably also did not see the officer who approach me leave the scene because the video camera points forward and doesn’t show that. But I watched him get in the ambulance and leave, negating his responsibility to introduce me to his supervisor. There’s a lot of things that happened there, that weren’t capture by the video camera.

    Yes, juries have discretion and can use their morals to guide their decisions despite actual law (I do support jury nullification and would happily use it when necessary). However, not every lawsuit is decided by a jury, but instead by judges who know the law much better than layman jurors. For instance, see the Nikki Catsouras decision which dealt with photography, privacy in public space, a dead person’s lack of rights, and a family’s lack of rights pertaining to a dead family member. If you want to go further, look up Hendrickson v. California Newspapers, Inc. (1975), which ruled rights die when the person dies. Despite what you may believe, this is all relevant, especially regarding privacy rights, HIPAA and public space, dead and injured people in public, and a person’s constitutional right to gather information and share it.

    No, the Sheriff refused to make an arrest because there wasn’t a legitimate reason for an arrest, or for him to even approach the photographer.

    First, the Sheriff says that no pictures are allowed in front of the W and Metro. That’s absolutely false. Then he says the alleged victim can’t be photograph because it violates his privacy. Wrong again. Yes, the person could sue, but that lawsuit is not going anywhere. He’ll be lucky if he can even find a lawyer to take the case and I think you know that. The officer also claims that the man is not in public space. Wrong again, and such a asinine statement to make. The Sheriff was really grasping for anything at this point. But after saying all of this and telling me to move, he then says I CAN take all the pictures I want, but just from over there. So what is it? Can I, or can’t I take pictures of the people you just told me I couldn’t photograph, officer? Well, I think we all know the answer to that question. But for clarity, the answer is yes.

    “You proceed to label such unsubstantiated “common knowledge” type as misleading rhetoric the proceed to lay one whopper of your own?”

    It is, and you did exactly that when you said the following:

    “And yes, most people believe those in a medical emergency have elevated right to privacy from having images of their distress published.and what’s the my whopper you’re referring too?”

    This is a generalized opinion, based not on actual facts but simply your own opinion that can easily sway someone who does not take the time to learn what the truth is. This is rule one of manipulating and persuading people. But if it is fact though, then point me to the proof.

    And what’s my whopper?

    “Could it be the reason we have video of all those catastrophes is that a) the photographer did not know the rights of people in public, b) law and order non-operative during the aftermath of the catastrophe, or c) people who saw photographs of themselves who thought their rights were violated did not have the money after all the doctors bills to bother suing the photographer in civil court? Anyone of those could be the reason such photos exist and are even published.”

    a) People, including the injured or dead, in public do not have an expectation of privacy. Therefore, all these people can be photographed/videotaped.
    b) Irrelevant. The law states that people don’t have an expectation of privacy in public, and people have the constitutional right to gather and publish information via photography or video.
    c) True, maybe the photographed individual did not have the money to hire an attorney. On the other hand, maybe they did, but the lawyer told the person that they didn’t have a legitimate case because when you’re in public, you have no expectation of privacy and your dead family member has no rights at all. So you can be photographed and those photos can be published.

    “I acknowledge you think people have no right to privacy when they are in public. But that proposition has not by any means generally been established at law.”

    Actually, it has been established, which is why there are cameras everywhere already. But a simple Google search will bring up all the relevant information.

    I’m not going to respond to anything else because it’s all subjective and based on your own opinions. Some I agree with, and others I don’t. And we all can use bits and pieces of various arguments and legal decisions to argue our positions and win supporters.

    But a person’s HIPAA (one P, two A’s) rights are not violated if they’re photographed/videotape in public space.

  7. 9 Strategic Litigator September 29, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Just watched the video again. (but have not read your reply yet.)

    A)

    One action that strongly helps the cause of proving right to photograph is the Deputy declares outright that it is photography itself he is attempting to abate. If I were on the jury I would find that photography is exclusively what he wanted to abate.

    As you know, the guise of creating a safe working perimeter is often used to push photographers away from the area of best perspective for the shot. Here, he did not even attempt that. He wanted to limit your expression to what could be captured near the event. Neither did he express any concern about your conduct.

    B)

    Cop says, “they don’t allow photography between the W and MTA”. I did not quite catch that. I mean what the H does that even mean? I think MTA and W abut each other with no other space “between” the two.

    Did you report this? Got an incident number? I might send an inquiry to the LAPD about it.

    OK, now I shall read your latest reply.

    Cheers

    • 10 discarted September 29, 2011 at 11:36 am

      A report has not been made, but that was not my decision and it’s something I can’t discuss. And this the Sheriffs, not LAPD.

  8. 11 peterblaise October 15, 2011 at 5:55 am

    There’s no such thing as “… photography is ALLOWED in a public area …” since public photography is not a permissioned activity.

    The law according to the US Constitution, First Amendment et cetera is that “… Congress shall make no, law …”, meaning photography CANNOT BE PROHIBITED.

    It’s not that anyone has PERMISSION to photography, it’s that we-the-people have not given permission to our self-governance to PROHIBIT.

    The Police are the ones breaking the law here, not the photographer.

    There’s a difference between the words ALLOWED and PROHIBITED, and when the voice in the video asks the officer “.. am I ALLOWED to take a picture here? ..” well, that just rankled me, because ALLOWED implies he needs permission, and that’s just wrong.

    No one needs PERMISSION to photograph in public.

    “… is that a legal order? … is that a lawful order? …” The officer should have been arrested and removed from duty because it’s specifically against the law for any officer of the law to lie about non-existent laws and try to enforce non-existent laws — and, of course, there can be no laws prohibiting certain freedoms, welcome to America, welcome to the US Constitution and case law from the Supreme Court on down since the invention of photography in the 1800s.

    Also, the supervisor should be reprimanded for walking away from a public citizen who was trying to address a conversation with him.

    Shame on these so-called public servants who have sworn to uphold and defend the US Constitution — they apparently know nothing of the US Constitution, and merely inflict their whimsical fears on the populace.

    Click!
    Love and hugs,
    Peter Blaise

  9. 12 brent November 1, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Average American is a “lay down.” They submit to getting groped and nuked in the chertoff “ovens’, allow cops to search their vehicles at dui checkpoints, weigh stations and all such activity is expanding. It is shocking to see the sworn cops and BID thugs arrest a man for merely sitting on a public sidewalk. It’s ugly and disheartening to see cops refuse to arrest BID assaulting, kidnapping, abusing photograher’s and others.

    The only answer will come when electricity is shut off and store shelves go bare…as before such happens, Americans are to fat and lazy to take the fat cats like Blankfein and Diamond out of their cozy beds and throw the punks into a cage. Likewise, the politicians need to be searched out and caged…emergency elections held. The central bank system is the root of the world problems and likewise, the owners of such must be routed out and put in dungeons.

    Will Americans and others get off their butts and do what needs to be done? I’m not holding my breath.

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