April 13, 2012
End The Lie
By Madison Ruppert
“If the police weren’t doing something wrong, why would they care if you filmed them?” -KTRN
Professional photojournalist Philip Datz has had a long and tumultuous history with the Suffolk County Police Department and finally Datz has moved to file a lawsuit against the County of Suffolk and Sergeant Michael Milton in the United States District Court, Eastern District, New York.
This is part of a much larger and thoroughly troubling trend of Americans being beaten, arrested and harassed for exercising their right to legally film police, which is just part of the growing American police state and the general erosion of our most essential liberties.
The lawsuit surrounds an incident on July 29, 2011, which was caught on film and has gained a considerable amount of notoriety for the clearly absurd actions of Sergeant Milton.
Watch the events below:
March 14, 2012
By Madison Ruppert
“Here is yet another article that demonstrates that the police are out of control. If they aren’t doing anything wrong, why are they afraid to be filmed?” –KTRN
Over a month ago, Steve Horrigan, a Florida resident, was arrested on charges of felony wiretapping for the high crime of recording video of police in public with his cell phone.
The Sarasota County, Florida State Attorney’s Office has yet to even formally file charges against Horrigan, and the North Port Police Department has not yet returned his cell phone.
Unfortunately, Horrigan’s case is not some isolated anomaly, but instead part of a much larger war on citizens who attempt to hold police accountable for their activities and do so in a wholly legal manner.
The state of Horrigan’s case has him in legal limbo wherein he cannot move forward with his lawsuit, and the state attorney has even more time before they have to file charges.
On top of the felony wiretapping, Horrigan is facing a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence, something which Carlos Miller characterizes as “the usual tack-on charge in Florida when you’ve pissed off the cops.”
Under state law in Florida, an individual who was arrested for a misdemeanor must be tried within 90 days of the arrest, while a felony arrest gives a period of 175 days.
Horrigan was arrested on January 25 of this year, so the state attorney has more time to make him squirm before they have to bring him to trial.
Thankfully, Horrigan’s case is getting some attention, at least amongst the local media like the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Recently they ran an in-depth piece not only about Horrigan’s case, but the nationwide struggle between citizens who want to hold police accountable and those individuals who refuse to allow citizens to exercise this right.
Unfortunately, the author of the piece failed to point out the fact that there is absolutely no legal basis upon which an officer can arrest an individual for filming them in public carrying out their public duties where they have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
June 30th, 2011
By: Jesse Solomon
Prosecutors dismissed a charge Monday against a community activist who was arrested while filming a police encounter with her iPod camera because she was concerned it was initiated by racial profiling.
“I’m feeling vindicated, I’m feeling energetic” Emily Good, 28, of Rochester, New York, said of the decision to have the charge dropped.
Good had been charged with obstruction of governmental administration when she began videotaping the interrogation of a black man by three white officers in front of her house on May 12, she said.
“Based upon the evidence, we could not make out the elements of the crime charged,” Monroe County First Assistant District Attorney Sandra Doorley said.
Good said she intends to file a civil suit.
In a joint statement, Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards, City Council President Lovely A. Warren and Police Chief James Sheppard commended the decision to drop the charges against Good and said an internal review is being conducted into the incident.
“Police officers must be able to cope with a high degree of stress while performing oftentimes dangerous duties, relying on their training and experience to guide their behavior,” the statement said. “We want to make clear that it is not the policy or practice of the Rochester Police Department to prevent citizens from observing its activities — including photographing or videotaping — as long as it does not interfere with the safe conduct of those activities,” the statement said.
Additionally, the statement said an internal review would be conducted into a separate incident in which tickets were given “for parking violations of vehicles belonging to members of an organization associated with Ms. Good.”
According to Good, the statement refers to an episode on June 23, when police carrying rulers showed up outside a meeting at a community center supporting her and began issuing tickets to cars parked more than 12 inches from the curb.
Both incidents “raise issues with respect to the conduct of Rochester police officers that require an internal review,” the statement said.
In the May 12 video, provided to CNN, Good can be heard telling officers “this is my front yard. I’m just recording what you’re doing, it’s my right.”
One of the three officers responds by telling Good, “I don’t feel safe with you standing behind me, so I’m going to ask you to go into your house.”
Though the officer repeatedly orders Good to return to her house, she refuses.
“It’s my right to be in my yard and I’m sorry you don’t feel safe. All I have is a camera. … I have no weapons,” Good says on the recording.
About two minutes into the video, a police officer can be heard saying, “You know what, you’re going to go to jail,” and then proceeds to arrest Good.
June 9th, 2011
By: Ethan A. Huff
When Narces Benoit decided to use his cell phone to film Miami Beach police officers gunning down a man sitting in a parked car early Monday morning, he had no idea the same cops would eventually target him as well. According to video evidence and witness testimony, officers pointed a gun at Narces and his girlfriend, threw them to the ground, destroyed his camera and what they thought was the footage he captured, and handcuffed and arrested the couple, all because Narces happened to capture indicting video evidence of the officers’ heinous actions.
The Miami Herald reports that Narces and his girlfriend were driving on Collins Avenue in South Beach, Fla., when they happened upon the shocking tail-end of a police chase involving Raymond Herisse, the suspect in question who had allegedly fled police following a scuffle. When Herisse’s car later came to a stop, officers surrounded the vehicle and unloaded more than 100 rounds at the car, effectively murdering Herisse and injuring four innocent bystanders.
The Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) has tried to justify their shooting spree by claiming that Herisse attempted to run over officers with his car, but Narces’ video footage, which was salvaged when he discreetly removed his cell phone’s memory card and put it in his mouth before officers destroyed it, shows otherwise. In the video, it is clearly evident that Narces’ vehicle had been stopped both prior to and during the time when the gang of officers murdered him in cold blood.
You can view the video footage for yourself here:
Perhaps even more disturbing than the actual shooting, though, is the way the police aggressively threatened and intimidated those who witnessed the situation, including Narces and his girlfriend. After allegedly putting guns to their heads and throwing them to the ground, Narces says one officer grabbed his cell phone and said “You want to be [expletive] Paparazzi?” upon which he proceeded to smash the phone and stick it back into Narces’ pocket.
Initially, other officers on the scene denied any awareness that this type of activity had taken place, but the department later admitted that officers had, indeed, confiscated Narces’ and several other witnesses’ phones. Filming such incidents, of course, is perfectly legal, and the officers involved had no right to threaten, confiscate, destroy, or otherwise interfere with the activity of bystanders, but they decided to do it anyway.
Following the incident, the MBPD has come out denying that its officers had held Narces at gunpoint, or that they tried to destroy his phone. The department alleges that Narces had appeared to be fleeing the shooting scene, which prompted them to come after him. This claim, however, does not make any logical sense in light of the situation, and the video footage Narces captured shows that officers pursued him only after they realized that he had been filming the incident, upon which he fled for refuge in his vehicle.
The entire event reeks of abuse and coverup. No matter how the MBPD tries to slice and dice it before the public, there really is no justification for firing hundreds of bullets at an unmoving vehicle in the first place, especially one with a man that appears not to even have been armed. Ironically, an MBPD announcement made days after the incident that a gun had been found “somewhere” in Herisse’s vehicle upon processing — which was an attempt at justifying the officers’ actions — does not vindicate them at all. What it actually shows is that Herisse could not have been firing that weapon when police gunned him down, otherwise it would have been right there with his body and not hidden somewhere else in the car.
Further, there is absolutely no justification for officers pointing guns at and arresting innocent bystanders who were merely exercising their rightful freedom to film public events — and no amount of denial or excuse-making on behalf of the MBPD can change this fact. Narces’ video, which is the smoking gun in this case, exposes the grim reality of this encroaching American police state, and how it is quickly devolving into a deadly display of brute force all across the country. Officers of the state apparently now have no qualms about openly gunning people down, threatening to gun down witnesses, and later trying to cover up or justify their abusive actions.