Cop busts guy for taking his pic: "It's illegal to take a picture of a law enforcement officer... if you don't give it to me, you're going to jail"

Bernardo sez,
I read in Dispatches From the Culture Wars about Scott Conover, who was arrested for taking a picture of a policeman during a traffic stop.

Conover quotes the police officer as saying "... you took a picture of me. It's illegal to take a picture of a law enforcement officer... if you don't give it to me, you're going to jail".

The arrest was, technically, for pointing a laser at a police officer (the officer claims he thought Conover was pointing a laser at him, but he arrested Conover even after discovering that it was a cell phone, which, y'know, looks a lot like a laser, dunnit). A commenter on the Dispatches blog points out how "The law they charged him under is 39-13-605, which requires that 'the photograph... was taken for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of the defendant'."... Seems like a bit of a stretch.

The police officer's affidavit also makes for entertaining reading.

Link (Thanks, Bernardo!)


  1. I want followups on these cases. How many dollars are taxpayers having to cough up to clean up after these morons?

  2. You know, I’ve just finished watching Idiocracy, and after reading this, I just felt like the movie hasn’t ended yet.

  3. From his affidavit is sounds very much like this officer knew there was nothing illegal about the Conover’s activities. I am not a lawyer, but I would think that makes a pretty good case for false arrest.

  4. He used an iPhone; I don’t think there is an autofocus beam on that camera, or any light at all. And if he thought it was a laser, why did he start demanding the picture be deleted?

    All of these stories make me think photographers are eventually going to have to leave the US and UK if they want to keep taking pictures. Everyone else will have to rely on CCTV capture-scans for pictures of their kids.

  5. I’m sorry, but was that affidavit written by a six year old? Seriously, I’ve seen better handwriting and sentence structure from my eight year old niece.

  6. I just read the affidavit. Is illiteracy that high in the US? Multiple times “I seen”.
    But the Hummer drove slowly, and the man behind the wheel said “Smile, I’m going to take your picture”? wtf. I wouldn’t even bother saying that.

    And he became irrate(sic) and started cursing just after the question “Why were you taking our picture?”
    Right.. I think something else took place there.
    BTW, from the affidavit it sounds like they knew it was a camera, then why arrest Connover for pointing a laser at the police officers?

    I’d say very clear grounds for an appeal on false arrest.

    btw, I am not a lawyer, nor a US citizen. :)

  7. To those of you complaining about the grammar:

    If he could write above junior high school level, wouldn’t he have a better range of job options? Wouldn’t cop be kind of low on his list then?

  8. From the affidavit: “2 sets of handcuffs were used on this subject”.

    2 sets? I’m curious as to whether he was hogtied with them, or if he was so fat that a single pair couldn’t link his arms together…

    Of course, the other option is… “Your honour, he looked like the Hulk and we were afraid that he might be able to break through one set of cuffs, so we used a second just in case.”

    Interfering with a peace officer would be a much easier charge to try to swing (IMO) that what they kinda made up to charge him with.

  9. “If he could write above junior high school level, wouldn’t he have a better range of job options? Wouldn’t cop be kind of low on his list then?”

    Actually Cops (and firemen) have great retirement benefits… think of Drew Peterson (the guy in suburban Chicago with the “missing” wife, and whose previous wife “accidentally” drowned in the bathtub)… he’s only 54 years old but pulling down a full pension.

  10. Next this cop claims to see a laser gunsight and shoots the suspects. Those people could be dead now. Well they had it coming to them. Yes your honor, it was a laser gunsight, for the purpose of sexual gratification. The police is always right, case dismissed.

    Will anything change? Will this cop be disciplined? Can it happen again, to you next? What will the police learn from this? That their officers can get away with making up more and more ridiculous offenses? That their executive potential isn’t kept in check by the judiciary? That whoever controls the police, if they only invent convenient enough charges, they’ll be able to gain great power?

  11. This gives me a great idea for a “hack” on digital cameras – a way to make it look like you have deleted a picture, when in reality all you have done is put it in a different file location.

    Now, thanks to me, the fact that I have mentioned this means that every cop will have to assume that every camera has been hacked, therefore eliminating this option and forcing all of you to surrender your memory cards instead of merely deleting the *offensive* image.

    Merely carrying a camera in the presence of a policeman will have to also be made illegal, since it is safe to assume that if you have a camera, you will use it to take a picture at every opportunity.

    Furthermore, anything bigger than a flash drive will also be illegal to have anywhere near a policeman, since it is possible (nay, probable) that it contains a small spy camera, set to automatically photograph any law enforcement officer.

    YES – my evil plan is succeeding.

  12. From the news article: “Under the advice of the Johnson County attorney, the sheriff would not comment and the arresting deputy said he didn’t want to incriminate himself by talking to us.”

    Incriminate himself? It sounds like the officer knows the arrest was bogus.

  13. poor grammar aside. I don’t see how this is a false arrest. The arrest for photography will get tossed, yes. But the cop is going to try to put everything on there to see what sticks. The disorderly conduct sounds very likely when reading this one sided account from the officer in question.

    Why is this guy in the hummer slowing down to take a picture of two cops at a traffic stop? Honestly, what is going on there? They could have ticketed him off the bat for reckless driving as well. He obviously had his attention on the cops more than on the road.

    The cop also said that the guy became irate and started cursing, which to me sounds like disorderly conduct and they arrested him for it. Good. If I was sitting on the side of the road and this yuppie in the hummer starts doing 10mph to get a pic of me then I would want him to delete it too. Is there some sort of right to privacy there or can I just go to anyone’s place of work and take pictures of them without their permission and use it however I want (as long as it isn’t for self-gratification)?

  14. You’re allowed to observe and take pictures of cops as they do their work. They are public officials. You don’t even have to be polite to them.

    If a cop doesn’t like that, he can get a new job.

  15. #13 Sherm – You can take pictures of people at their place of work so long as they work on public property, like cops do. Taxi drivers, hot dog vendors, etc, go right ahead!

  16. With well over 10,000 federal regulations on the books, The idea that all a person has to do is not break the law is moot.
    The mindset of many is more towards how not to draw attention to ones self.
    because once the focus is on someone, it doesn’t take long to find some sort of a violation to charge them with.
    Even if your innocent of the accusation, you are likely to incriminate yourself else wise in your defense.
    I applaud Mr Conover’s stand for civil liberties, there is price not many of us are willing to pay the price for freedom and freedom doesen’t come cheep and most are willing blow it off.
    easier to toss the camera, stay inside after dark, don’t question Authority,

  17. @ #14 Ken Hansen: I agree. Sounds like the picture-taker was being an ass for the sake of provoking a reaction – and that’s exactly what he got.
    Yes, the “laser” charge is bogus, but I think the disorderly conduct charge isn’t that big a stretch, considering how the guy reacted when asked to delete the picture.
    Note that I’m not saying that we don’t have the right to photograph situations happening in public. We can (and should) maintain the right to watch the watchers. It’d be one thing if the cops were being abusive to the first guy they stopped, and Mr. Conover was trying to document that. But it sounds like he was just out to start some $#!+.

  18. For those of you who dont know…. this is a common tactic to punish someone who has pissed off or annoyed a cop. Basically creatively arrest & charge them with something that wont stand up in court. Meanwhile they are put thru the system (arrested, fingerprinted, mugshot taken, put in a cell for a few hours). Its for petty punishment only. The cop KNOWS the guy was arrested under bullshit charges …. the prosecutor/judge knows as well & it gets dismissed. But the person arrested was inconvenienced (punished) in the end. Getting ANY prosecutor to go ahead with flase arrest charges for somethiong like this is just about impossible. Cops know this…. so they keep doing it to get back at anyone who annoys them.

  19. @FredicvsMaximvs “It’d be one thing if the cops were being abusive to the first guy they stopped, and Mr. Conover was trying to document that. But it sounds like he was just out to start some $#!+”

    Doesn that really matter? SHouldnt cops be above petty shit like this? Yeah, a guy took your picture. Not illegal, Not a personal affront to you. If a cop cant take someone giving him some minor shit (which i dont think taking a cop’s picture is), then he doesnt deserve to be a cop. My father was a cop & you know what he would do when someone flipped him off…. he’d smile & wave…and thats it. You dont get all butthurt & petty when someone shows you a bit of disrespect. You have to have thick skin & resist throwing your weight around just to get back at people.

    And cops wonder why people hate them. *rollsyes*

  20. Do we know what the guy was taking a picture of?

    It’s all well and good assuming he was being an ass, but if he was documenting the officers breaking the law, or engaging in activity unbecoming of their station, then he may have be correct to photograph them (at risk to his own well being).

  21. It’s also a common tactic for police to over-state the reasons for the arrest in their reports.

    By implying that the suspect became irate without provocation, and was cursing, confrontational to the officers and perhaps endangering the two children in the back seat, they paint a picture for the judge and jury of a menace to society.

    Likewise, the two sets of handcuffs are also theatre, implying that the officers had reason to feel threatened by the suspect.

    (2 #20: “For those of you who dont know…. this is a common tactic to punish someone who has pissed off or annoyed a cop.”)

  22. Way to make something out of nothing, coppers. All I can think of is Cartman screaming “Respect my authori-tie!” For the record, that’s not an affidavit. Affidavits are sworn statements under penalty of perjury, and must be taken in the presence of a court clerk or notary public or somesuch in most states.

    IAAL, but this is not advice:
    Yeah, I’d say that guy has a great case for false arrest. I’d take it on contingency.

  23. Dirtymoney is absolutely right. This guy was arrested for being disrespectful to a policeman. And that’s not illegal.

  24. I used to think it was a little unnecessary that the police in my area were starting to require some sort of college education (Associates, Bachelors), now I’m just happy the they won’t be writing “I seen” on their police reports.

  25. The guy might have been trying to document unnecessary expenses on details – for instance, it sounds like there were two cops on detail, and it might have only been necessary for there to be one.

  26. @25? Really? Cops get respect by law? Really? I thought the law forced obedience,not respect. I think you think like a peon.

  27. “And cops wonder why people hate them. *rollsyes*”

    its like a countdown till someone on boing boing says this in a comments section. everytime i read a comment like this i just start substituting the word “cop” with other words and wonder if it’d be as accepted.

  28. oh jeez, “illegal”/”legal” what’s the difference? My only excuse is I had to make a left turn just now and spilled my beer over my laptop, sorry….(time to switch to coffee) sorry Virgil!

  29. tough to read anything about cops these days that doesn’t produce reflex rage. Why is that, ya suppose?

  30. Being a cop is a choice. And I’ve been tortured by cops, never by civilians. I think I can understand why people hate cops, without hating civilians.

  31. I mean why people who don’t hate civilians, particularly marginalized civilians, may hate cops. I don’t hate anyone.

  32. you know how cops have dash cams? How much for CopStopCams do ya think? They’d look like the GPS antenna warts on cop cars except there would be four pinhole CCTV facing out and a hard drive in an armored box welded to the frame somewhere. Maybe a live satellite uplink direct to the web? You start it rolling whenever you get pulled over.

  33. Ok. I’m designing a shirt right now that says SHOOT COPS in big letters with a drawing of a camera right under it. Who wants one?

  34. while I think it’s a great idea, understand that there is a limitless supply of crooked judges that will pretend the shirt is a direct threat against cops and use the dollar cost of “justice” to bury you.

  35. What if I sketch a quick but realistic court room artist style picture of the police officer? Think that would be a problem? Would they charge you for that?

  36. OK, let’s be clear about something: Cursing at a cop and being “irate” are not enough for a disorderly conduct conviction. Here’s the Tennessee Disorderly Conduct statute:

    39-17-305. Disorderly conduct. —

    (a) A person commits an offense who, in a public place and with intent to cause public annoyance or alarm:

    (1) Engages in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior;

    (2) Refuses to obey an official order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, hazard or other emergency; or

    (3) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act that serves no legitimate purpose.

    (b) A person also violates this section who makes unreasonable noise that prevents others from carrying on lawful activities.

    (c) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

    So, did we have any kind of fighting here? No.
    Refusal to obey an order to disperse? No
    A hazardous or physically offensive condition caused by an act with no legitimate purpose? Maybe if he stopped his car unexpectedly in traffic, but the affidavit doesn’t indicate any hazards, and the fact that the guy cursed and yelled wasn’t hazardous in and of itself.
    Did he create unreasonable noise that kept others from carrying on lawful activities? No. (And don’t tell me he kept the cops from doing their thing – they decided to go after him; they certainly didn’t have to.)

    So I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this was totally not disorderly conduct. It was dumb, though, from a practical standpoint. I mean, I’m a lawyer and I spend a lot of time talking to teenagers about their right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, but I also remind them that it’s never a good idea to fuck with cops if you don’t have to.

  37. umm, once they get you into the “safe” police station, they can pretty much beat you to death with impunity. I’ll take the fairness of the Web first.

  38. Further research reveals that they perhaps could have charged him under Section 55-8-158: “Upon any highway outside of a business or residential district, no person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, upon the paved or main-traveled part of the highway when it is practicable to stop, park or so leave such vehicle off such part of the highway, but in every event an unobstructed width of the highway opposite a standing vehicle of not less than eighteen feet (18¢) shall be left for the free passage of other vehicles, and a clear view of such stopped vehicles shall be available from a distance of two hundred feet (200¢) in each direction upon such highway.” Of course, that would depend on the circumstances.

  39. so it’s OK to threaten/arrest/charge people for wrong things so long as a “right” thing turns up eventually?

  40. hey save time! Toss everyone in prison. The way jailhouse rules work, it’s only a matter of time before they break one and then there is a good reason to keep them there.

  41. @ Takuan:
    so it’s OK to threaten/arrest/charge people for wrong things so long as a “right” thing turns up eventually?

    Well, yes. In my experience (as a public defender in Massachusetts), the way it works is that a person is arrested and brought to court, either that day or the next morning. The arresting officer fills out a formal complaint, listing the facts and the law under which the person is to be charged. When the person gets to court, she is informed of the charges against her – that’s the arraignment. Up until that moment, the prosecutor can look at the facts and decide to amend the complaint so that it charges a more appropriate crime for the facts. Even after that point, the prosecutor could move to dismiss the original charge and bring a new complaint. Usually what happens is that the officer does a handwritten report in the field that may or may not charge the appropriate offense, then, back at the station, does a computerized report and double-checks the laws so the right crime is charged. But they mess up a lot.

  42. You know, I just got a new Nikon D60 for school … and with all these stories I’m a little nervous about using in public. I’d like to think I would know how to handle a situation like this, but honestly, how does a reasonable intelligent person handle such stupidity?

  43. It may not technically be illegal to take a picture of a cop, but the law is whatever the person with the bigger gun and most backup wants to interpret it to be. Once you’re charged, good luck finding anyone who seriously believes that crap about innocent until proven guilty, if you were innocent, they never would have caught you. And if you don’t agree, you’re a terrorist. (And if you do, the terrorists have already won.)

  44. so the enemy isn’t just the villains, it’s the cops,the lawyers, the judges et al. Isn’t that just spiffy for the ordinary guy just trying to live? Best to operate outside the system then. You get as much justice as you make yourself and the local biker gang is a more reliable source when you need enforcement. Use 911 as a weapon, not a life preserver.

  45. Guy taking the pics was being a dick about it. Continued being a dick about it. Cops arrested him. The end? probably cops’ charges are dropped, and any charges of wrongful arrest also dropped. In the end we get a bunch of court time wasted.

  46. @52 and others: “just getting arrested”, even if charges are completely dismissed later, can have serious, lifelong consequences well beyond the cost, inconvenience and real violation of rights and freedoms of the moment.

    The record of arrest and the charges remain accessible forever to law enforcement agencies internationally, forever, and merely having an arrest record for these charges (threatening an officer, etc.) may be enough for many countries to deny him entry forever, which can be pretty devastating if you have to travel for your career.

  47. the ordinary guy just trying to live?
    You’re over reacting Takuan, try not to hyperventilate. The guy thought he was being some kind of citizen hero fighting the man. By pulling his boneheaded move he put his wife and kinds in danger, as well as other cars on the road. And he interfered with an arrest. I don’t have any sympathy for the jerk.

  48. That comment at #45 was well researched, however, it makes me decide the cops were likely not entirely incorrect.

    This has faint overtones of ‘don’t taze me, bro’.

    As far as I know, interfering in a traffic stop, and then not respecting the officers wishes to back off, followed by some taunting, will generally get you arrested, and it should.

  49. In California, where we apparently know more about driving cars than the whole country of China, folks take pictures of cops during traffic stops in order to document abuse, and by documenting police action regularly, to prevent abuse. Why do I have the feeling that the commenters here who feel that the cops should be able to work without public oversight are the same ones who claim that you shouldn’t worry about surveillance because “if you’re not doing something wrong, you have nothing to worry about”?

  50. Public oversight is a good thing, but making a nuisance of yourself while doing a good thing, makes it into a bad thing.

    Taunting an officer makes you a nuisance at least – and maybe a threat. It is not their responsibility to sort real threats from perceived threats.

    That’s what judges are for.

  51. To everyone who thinks the cops might have had a legitimate reason for the stop/arrest I would like to point out the following:

    “I seen a red light come on through the drivers side window, then this subject stated ‘Smile, I’m going to take your picture'”

    So who here really believes that a guy on the opposite side of the road with his window rolled up could be clearly heard to make that statement without doing some serious yelling?

    Could it be? Is Mr Deputy a lying creep? I think there’s a strong possibility. Combine it with the mysterious red light from an iPhone (which apparently doesn’t do that) and his story just doesn’t add up. He clearly knew he wasn’t in danger because he claims the suspect told him he was taking his picture (and note the deputy didn’t claim he said “I’m going to shoot you” or anything possibly inflammatory like that).

    So you most likely have a guy who happened to drive by, saw something interesting and decided to try out his handy dandy iPhone. He probably didn’t say anything to the cops and they knew they weren’t in danger, but they were PO’ed because this civilian had the audacity to take their picture. The nerve. They had to teach that boy a lesson.

    I’m really a bit disappointed at all the folks who just took the cops word for it without really stopping to wonder about the details of what they described. LEOs are trained to observe scenes and know how to explain what happened and I think you can sort of see it here. He lies about certain elements to give the arrest a slight semblance of legitimacy but he doesn’t lie about the entire event so he ends up with contradictions.

    Given the tone of so many stories on BB I would imagine most regular readers would appreciate the dangers present when someone in power decides that they aren’t happy with you.

  52. Hmm whats new.
    A cop abusing his powers, going on an ego trip, twisting the law to fit a make believe crime, once again putting his hands on an honest citizen unrightfully and unjustly. A man was removed from his car, place in hand cuffs, likely his car was towed, he was driven a distance from his path, placed in a cell. And for what? Seriously when is this shit going to stop? They already enact thousands of new and all inclusive laws every year, why do they constantly feel the need to make a law fit a crime that it doesnt? What are the chances the man taking the photo was going to use it for sexual gratification? slim and none. I cant help but wonder what ACTUAL crimes are going on the same time these fat losers are blindly trampling on honest peoples rights and freedom.

    The fact is when you UPSET a police officer, he will find a law to twist so he can make you a criminal. Just because everyone knows the police are half-wit adrenaline junkies with touchy egos, doesnt make it right. There are reasons for laws and police and this is surely not it. We are so fucked im sick of typing about it. The government is spying on everyone, your rights are gone, freedom is thin, the police get more confused on their abilities every day, or simply choose to abuse their power at whim, men are being tackled for enjoying their hobby of photography, people are being killed on the spot for petty crimes with the police playing cop/judge/executioner, using 100,000 volts of electricity to subdue small and frail people when its not needed. Not only that but we have a constant loom or threat of terror that is being abused and used as the catalyst driving our loss of freedoms and god given rights, destroying and tearing at the very fabric of society and wellbeing of man with a broad sword.

    Yes something horrible happened 7 years ago, yes it changed america forever. No, photographers are not the cause, NO, taking our freedom and replacing it with fear will not help. Anytime I bring up the fact that we are being spyed on and lied to, someone always has to speak up and ask “well if you dont want them to listen, then what are you trying to hide?” The answer is simple, nothing but my PRIVACY. A thing I used to have a right to. I swear to you that the effects of our own government have greatly affected me more than that tragic day 7 years ago. For while I had a friend pass away that day, I have since lost almost all confidence and pride in my countries government from their actions and reactions alone. I suppose it doesnt matter anyways, I maybe have 40 more trips around the sun and my games over, by then the government will be forced to make more sense instead of cents.

    I mean what the hell is going on?
    milking the country dry?
    people are choosing between heat and food?
    millions go homeless and lose jobs?
    1 millions families are affected by a son/father fighting in a war that we have nothing to do with?
    3000 of them never made it back home….
    3 tons of money shipped there only to disappear?
    unexplained deaths of soldiers?
    laws tighten around honest citizens, its getting to a point where you dont actually have to be a criminal to be labeled and treated as one.
    I tell you what, Im American through and through, and I stand behind almost nothing that my government does.

    Just because you know you will be arrested and maybe even beaten by the police if you do so much as get RUDE with them, DOESNT MAKE IT RIGHT. So saying something like “well thats what he should expect when messing with the police” the person is not saying he agrees with what the cop is doing, he is merely stating that everyone knows what will happen and the guy is stupid for stepping in that direction and receiving the beating. The fact is, unless you are doing something very wrong no cop should every have to get PHYSICAL with you. In fact they should not arrest everyone for petty things, tying up man hours, lawyers, judges, the man himself, etc. Old unpaid fines should be a smudge on your record, not a way to place you in custody. Because jails are for real criminals, holding cells are for people who hurt people. Average and honest citizens should never see the inside of a jail but they do. Guess what they arent treated “innocent until proven guilty” They are treated as “guilty until paid in full” THATS A FACT.

  54. Solution Ahead:

    Right before you realize you are about to be arrested or your camera is going to be taken away follow these two steps:

    (1) Erase Pictures in front of Person
    (2) Go home and use any data recovery software to “undelete” pictures.

    Win Win.

    That officer’s statement is scary, it’s like a 10 year-old’s level of grammar. I respect police and their job, but I’m a little worried about people this mentally challenged protecting us.

  55. >#37 posted by Takuan , July 18, 2008 8:11 AM
    >you know how cops have dash cams? How much for >CopStopCams do ya think?

    About $1,500 with this guy. No satellite uplink though:

    And this just for your entertainment:

  56. Ken, I’m pretty sure that the law prohibits employers making hiring decisions based on what the applicant may or may not do in the future. Think women/pregnancy – specifically disallowed.

  57. Wow, I wasn’t really surprised to read about the incident, as such abuse of the system seems so commonplace, but the number of people on this site so readily defending the cop’s behavior is far more than I expected. I don’t even know the U.S. any more.

  58. cops have to be held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens since they can kill at will. These cops obviously don’t meet the grade.

  59. but the number of people on this site so readily defending the cop’s behavior is far more than I expected.

    I’m a little amazed to see so many people willing to pillory an officer on the word of some random guy who would actively interfere with an otherwise unremarkable traffic stop.

  60. Well, I’m amazed at your amazement! But I’m amazed at your amazement of my amazement…..etc.

    Hey, it’s your country: if you’re happy with what’s going on there, fine. Amazement for all my friends, on the house!

  61. haven’t got the stats either. Anyone keeping count? How many have been killed by police versus how many have been killed by police? Since the entire system is loaded from top to bottom in favour of the police when death occurs, I think “kill at will” is a fair description.

  62. Mdhatter @81, and Ken @79,

    My biggest problem is that the cops own words (from his statement) paint an unrealistic picture (which implies that the cop is lying). Like I said above, he heard the driver say he was going to take his picture through a closed window from across the road? All the newer vehicles I’ve ever been in are pretty darn soundproof so he’d have to yell pretty loudly to be heard by anyone outside the vehicle.

    He also claims he saw a red light (presumably the kind of light that most cameras use for focusing etc…) but apparently the driver was using an iPhone which doesn’t use a red light. After the arrest, presumably the vehicle was searched so if he had something like laser pointer or another camera, you’d think it would be found but there doesn’t seem to a be a mention of that.

    At that point 2 significant elements of his story don’t check out based SOLELY on the officer’s statement and both of those contradictions (particularly the light comment) are designed to make the officer look like he was taking reasonable steps to protect himself and the public. That makes me wonder, was there a u-turn at all (legal or otherwise)? Did the driver say anything before or after taking the picture? Did he ever act in a way that even remotely met the standard for disorderly conduct? Did the driver do anything other than take a picture of the officers in action?

    It’s a sad commentary on the state of our legal system that law enforcement officers are not all honest and sincere in their execution of their duties. My brother is a defense attorney and he’s given me plenty of examples where cops, ice agents, DEA agents, etc… have outright lied on the stand (even to the point of being charged with perjury) just to get the “Bad Guys” ™. Unfortunately anyone who isn’t law enforcement can potentially be a “Bad Guy” and once a cop thinks you did something wrong or they don’t like you, you’ve got problems (regardless of what you did or didn’t do).

    That’s not to say all cops do bad things, but in this particular instance, I think it’s pretty clear they went after a guy largely because he took their picture and they didn’t like that. They arrested him, and shoved him into the legal system to “teach him a lesson” even though they knew he probably wasn’t going to even get convicted.

    It’s funny (in a scary way), you see so many people in a tizzy over the perception that the BB editors might be engaged in an Orwellian attack against VB and yet something like this is dismissed as some guy who had it coming to him because he was asking for it (which sounds an awful lot like the kind of excuses certain people use in order to blame the victim in other crimes). With attitudes like that, it’s not too surprising that our civil liberties are in tatters.

  63. Ken @ #86, that’s just it, how do you know he “to drive back and forth while the officers were doing their job, he choose to slow down/stop, roll down the window, and say “Smile, I’m taking your picture”, then he choose to drive off.”

    Does that really sound plausible to you? Wouldn’t it make more sense that he just slowed down, took the picture with his phone and continued on his way without interacting at all with the cops?

    My point is that their own words seem to contradict the laws of physics and they seem to indicate that Conover did some things that just sound strange. Could he have done those things? Yeah, but if the cops seem to clearly be lying in part of their statement then why couldn’t they be lying about the rest of it?

    When I said that he’s being treated as if he “asked for it” I mean that the only thing we know for sure is that he took the picture(s) and THAT seems to be enough of a reason for the cops to “act as they did” even and up to lying about what happened apparently.

    Maybe that’s not what you meant, but IMO it seems very possible that the cops lied, I’d even go so far as to say, them lying about the circumstances seems more likely than things actually happening the way they described and if it’s ok for them to act the way they did, that would include lying. Read the statement linked in the article, it has inconsistencies that shouldn’t exist (i.e. if the phone didn’t have a red light, then why mention it except as a way to justify what got his attention in the first place and “started” this whole thing?).

    Everyone seems to just assume that the cops are telling the truth and that Conover went out of his way to get himself into trouble and that just doesn’t ring true.

  64. Ken @ 89,

    I don’t think it is clear that he stopped, and depending on what traffic is like it could have been moving fast enough for him to take a photo (or think to do so) without having to impede traffic.

    I’ve driven by plenty of traffic stops where traffic is moving slow enough that a photo might be attempted. You might not get a good one but since the cop in question destroyed the evidence we can’t know if Conover was stopped or moving or how well he was composing the photo etc… We also don’t know that he didn’t see anything questionable which he wanted to reference later on. Given what happened to him purely because he took a photo, he might be hesitant to bring anything else up right now.

    It’s curious, when you think about it, the cop says that Conover was clearly in the process of taking a photograph and he claims that he said as much, but the officer’s reaction was to destroy the evidence? If his story was true, that photograph would be a great piece of evidence. It could show where Conover was in the street, possibly how fast he was traveling (making it much easier to prove some sort of reckless driving charge)… oh and it would show what they were doing.

    As far as why he did decide to take the picture? Who knows. Perhaps he saw something that looked odd/sketchy and decided to take a photo for future reference? Maybe he wanted to show off how his phone worked? Maybe he just felt like it?

    That’s the really disturbing and frightening thing about your attitude (i.e. “He started it”), we don’t know that there was any “it” to be started. All we know is a guy took a picture of some cops (in the United States, not cold war East Germany), they didn’t like it (regardless of what else happened I think it is clear they did not like being photographed) and arrested him and they made a statement which doesn’t put them in a particularly good light (from the stated “facts” to their ability to do part of their job a write a simple statement, in English, of what happened).

    The only action that Conover definitely did take and the one which did set the wheels in motion was one which should have been protected as a civil liberty and that was quite possibly enough to get him arrested. That sure sounds like the kind of country I want to live in.

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