Woman who filmed cop from own yard charged with obstructing his administration of government

When police cars, lightbars on, pulled up outside her house in the middle of the night, a Rochester woman began filming the traffic stop from her front yard. She was arrested and taken to jail by a police officer who first said she was "anti-police," then claimed to feel "threatened" by her; and ultimately told her that he didn't have to explain himself at all. Her arrest, which required the officer to enter her property without permission, was on a charge of "obstructing government administration." [Indymedia]

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    1. I was going to make a 1984 reference but you beat me to it.

      This is just too depressing for me to come up with anything witty to say. F everything about this.

    1. “anyone can become a cop these days”

      Actually that couldn’t be further from the truth. Police agencies are highly selective now, due to large numbers of applicants. Most have the ability to hire engineering grads, law school grads, etc; people who had an advanced degree but wanted to do something more with their life.

      Your view of law enforcement is very warped. For example back in 2006, NY State Troopers had 20,000 applicants for their test, to be narrowed down to 100 selected for the next academy class. That’s a lower acceptance rate than most colleges….

  1. Once a person notices the actual signs of living in a police state it is too late.
    The best hope that I have is that every citizen documents every injustice they witness and then distribute these things freely. But I’ll let you know, the freely part is quickly fading away.

    1. No it’s too late when, everyone is so apathetic the extent of their contribution to putting a stop to these actions is commenting on web articles. They only get away with it because, WE LET THEM.

  2. One issue: Private Property and Private Property that is publicly accesible are two different things. The cop did not enter her property against her will, at least no court will uphold such a claim. If he entered her house then that would be a violation of the 4th amendment that may have some teeth.

    Keep on recording, keep on pushing the limits. The more of these videos that get out the better. We need to dismantle our “big brother”/militarized police forces.

  3. bwahahaha! Example of why I’m not surprised or dismayed when a human expresses conflict with human police/soldiers, et cetera. Mort aux Vache, as the surrealist/situationist cats called out…

  4. It’s sad, that woman was compeltely with her rights, but didn’t know how to properly assert them. The average citizens is not prepared to have a police encounter like that and not come out sobbing and explaining away your 5th amendment protections.

    That stuff needs to be taught in school. “Class, what does the 5th amendment mean in today’s world? NEVER TALK TO COPS”.

    1. In Atlanta, my elderly mother’s car was stolen a few weeks ago, and the cops basically told her fuck off. They refused to send an officer to take a report and the “detective” assigned to the case hasn’t done anything to follow up on any aspect of the case.

      Previous to this, her last encounter with the cops was in a parking lot. She had a blinker light out and didn’t know it. So some burly man-bitch of a cop yelled at her to get it fixed, and warned her that the next cop who caught her might not be so forgiving. My mother is nearly 70 and stands maybe five feet tall. She’s also rather conservative; not an old hippie or anything like that. She’s been telling me she wants to get out of Atlanta, because she feels like the thugs have free reign to do as they please; steal whatever they want and murder anyone who stands in their way, while the cops just lay there getting fat on taxpayer money and petty traffic fines.

      Rochester is a lot smaller than Atlanta, but I’d guess the attitude is similar. The cops on the eastern seaboard (from Miami to Boston, anyway) aren’t even good enough to be useless; they’re a burden on society.

    2. You are not within your rights to disobey an order from law enforcement regardless if YOU feel the order is unlawful. Orders are not open for interpretation and debate.

      “I feel I am within my rights to do X.”

      – Oh, well then if YOU think it’s okay, carry on.

      Um, no.

      1. Well yes, actually, they are. Not anything a policeman says is a lawful command. If a policeman in uniform stopped me on the sidewalk and ordered me to strip naked, I would not be obligated to comply. He could arrest me, and do whatever he wants by force, and then the courts could decided whether he was right… but I am under no obligation to comply with such a request. I am not a soldier in an army, a policeman is not my superior. He is my public servant, he works for me. I have every right to know why I’m being asked to do something. If the policeman has the right to take an action (like turn off my camera, or arrest me) without my consent, he or she may do so. I much prefer if he asks me to do it voluntarily first, but I am not obligated to comply.

      2. Oh, cool, I can’t wait to be a police officer.

        “I am ordering you to write out a will leaving everything to me. Next, I am ordering you to step into a noose and onto this chair.
        Next I am ordering you to jump off the chair.”

        I’ll make millions! And hey, maybe I’ll indulge my inner sadistic perv and order people to sexually service me too! Yeah, that sounds awesome. I mean, there’ll always be people like you who suggest that they have to obey and the time to deal with it is later, and, well, I can always make sure there is no later, right?

        Police officers rights must be specific and limited before-the-fact. Unlimited vague rights will be abused, EVEN if there’s an after-the-fact means to redress.

  5. I hope the civil suit is huge. And I hope the pig* ends up on food stamps.

    *I do not think that all, or even most, officers deserve to be called this. This guy and his friends do.

  6. “obstructing government administration”? One should ask for ordnance and/or state statute number when you hear something that sounds like a BS charge like that. And if it is not BS then does that mean if you take longer than the DMV clerk would like, you’re likely to be arrested?

    I’ll admit I’m not 100% up on my political science definitions, but isn’t it either Fascism or Totalitarianism when the police arrest you just for criticizing/documenting the police state?

  7. Cue the folks who defend the cops and blame the woman for mouthing off in a non-cop-respecting manner. I’m mildly surprised they haven’t already arrived.

  8. Nice. I’d really love to read a psychiatric report on this guy and some of the other order-barking fucks that have made news recently. Certainly there must be a common thread between them, some disorder that prevents them from understanding right from wrong and having no problems with abusing their power.

    1. “right-wing authoritarianism” is the sociological definition, at the least.

      Common traits involve compartmentalized thinking (the ability to hold multiple, conflicting ideas to be true without ever comparing them to one another), ethnocentrism, extreme deference to authority figures, belief in extreme and merciless punishment for lawbreaking or defying authority, and the belief that those in positions of authority should be punished lightly or not at all for violating the law in the course of their jobs. Those last two nicely illustrate the “compartmentalized thinking”. Lawbreaking must be punished harshly (except when done by cops)!

      It’s also subdivided into followers or leaders, with quite a wide distinction between the two. The leaders tend to be pretty much garden variety sociopaths making a power grab.

    2. Actually most cops are of a mediocre intelligence – average or above average intelligence scores on police exams ensure that you won’t get the job as they don’t want you getting bored on those 100s of routine patrols day in and day out. So all cops on the street are of a lower mental faculty basically – if they weren’t cops they would be in some minimum wage low-end job, equivalent to their mental capacity.

      In a ‘normal state’, these cops can be bullies, and due to their lower IQ, cannot be reasoned with using logic and rational thinking. At best one can plead mercy on humane grounds or, thanks to the letter of the law, they can be argued with on the level of legal protocol, reading of rights, spouting of laws/clauses etc

      But in a ‘police state’ even this possiblity disappears.

      In a ‘police state’, they are vested with authority and power that exceeds all reasonable boundaries. Add to that the fact that cops don’t get highly paid, and they have no ‘powers’ in life except what their uniform gives them.

      What, then, are the odds of getting any decent treatment from them under these circumstances? Next to none. No argument on humane grounds, or spouting the law will help you now.

      Cops in a police state can and will use their uniform and big lights to harrass and terrorize the population, partly thanks to the official mandate of the police state (rule by fear)and partly due to their desperate need to get that ‘power feeling’ on a personal level.

      Since the mandate is official, the chances of them being penalized for ‘irrational actions & misbehaviour’ is very low.

      This assessment applies to TSA employees too.

      1. For creatures of duty it is not intelligence which is required – it is integrity which is the cardinal virtue.

        Integrity trumps intelligence, when it comes to cops and soldiers.

        Indeed, without integrity, the ‘intelligence’ of cops and soldiers may (as history so amply demonstrates, with countless examples) become a very great threat to the democratic rights and freedoms of the citizenry (regardless of whether “the citizenry” be considered as individuals, or as a single corporate body).

        Intelligence is a bonus in soldiers and cops; but the bedrock upon which it rests must be that of integrity. Otherwise, the roles of master and servant, as between cop and citizen, will surely become reversed in time.

        I want an honest cop, before I want a clever one.

        1. “In discussions on behavior and morality, one view of the property of integrity sees it as the virtue of basing actions on an internally-consistent framework of principles. This scenario may emphasize depth of principles and adherence of each level of postulates or axioms to those it logically relies upon.[citation needed] One can describe a person as having ethical integrity to the extent that everything that that person does or believes: actions, methods, measures and principles — all of these derive from a single core group of values.

          One essential aspect of a consistent framework is its avoidance of any unwarranted (arbitrary) exceptions for a particular person or group — especially the person or group that holds the framework. In law, this principle of universal application requires that even those in positions of official power be subject to the same laws as pertain to their fellow citizens. In personal ethics, this principle requires that one should not act according to any rule that one would not wish to see universally followed. For example, one should not steal unless one would want to live in a world in which everyone was a thief. This was formally described by the philosopher Immanuel Kant in his categorical imperative.”

          Quote from:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrity

          Note well the role “integrity” also plays in the discipline of science.

          Consistency of actions undertaken with principles as stated; honesty in the declarations of the motive for actions undertaken which must be justified by those principles as stated; and, the conscious application of those same principles to all, regardless of whether they are cop or citizen.

          Integrity. It is fundamental to justice.

      2. Wait, so your excuse for this behavior is the cops have a “built in” hand on weapon response? Please.

        Yes. It may not make sense to you, but yes, they do… and it’s sensible. A lot of violent encounters police have begin as traffic stops.

        Someone who is guilty of a serious crime is pulled over by a cop for a traffic stop, and they are desperate not to get caught for it, and they behave violently. It happens.

        It doesn’t take long to reach under the seat of a car and pull a gun, especially if someone else shows up and distracts the cop. There’s a lot I don’t agree with about his behavior, but not with that.

        Waving their gun around is way out of line but keeping a hand on a clipped holster isn’t a problem, even when they do it to me. I know why and it doesn’t make me uncomfortable to see them do it around me.

  9. Does the “rationale” behind the police actions described here make Steve Jobs and Apple “Police Friendly”?

    Didn’t the Stasi have “rules” regarding the use of recording devices (e.g.: cameras, tape recorders, …) turn on overt and covert agents instead of one’s neighbors?

    Arencha’ glad technocapitalists are eagerly and profitably keeping the Stasi’s or [fill in your “favorite” authoritarian death squad] spirit thriving!

  10. I’m glad almost everybody’s carrying around video cameras in their cell phones these days – eventually cops are going to learn they can’t bust you for recording them.

    Back in the late 80s, a couple of years before Rodney King, I got arrested for photographing misbehaving cops. It was semi-rural New Jersey, and I was visiting friends who were having a party / church meeting at their house, and the cops were harassing a guy who’d pulled into the parking lot next door to their house. He was a young guy with an old beater car, so obviously that ought to be good for some kind of ticket, and things had devolved from there, and it was early in the evening so there wasn’t any other crime going on in town and all the cops showed up. I got hauled into the station, my Miranda rights got violated, the cops lied to me about court scheduling procedure (trying to get me found guilty that way) and made it clear that if I didn’t like the bogus offense they were charging me with, they could give me a more serious bogus charge down at the county jail. It took nine months to get the charges dropped, though a lot of that was just small-town court scheduling issues.

    One of my coworkers knew the cop who started the trouble (“Oh, yeah, she’s been a bully since 8th grade”), and she lied about a couple of things when she was testifying against my friend (who was found not guilty of everything except for his car registration having expired.) And the camera I’d borrowed to take the pictures? Mysteriously, light leaked into it while it was in the evidence room – go figure.

  11. Canadian here. American cops are scary. I’ve interacted with them a few times on visits over the border and the total authority they seem to implicitly have over anyone and everyone is quite jarring.

    You shouldn’t make fun of the woman for crying. If the cops can just arrest you for no reason, who knows what else they can do. That is terrifying. I’d cry too.

    1. Anon #20,

      oh you have bastards there too, just scroll down to the other article. And your border officials are real pieces of garbage, no different than the US.

      1. Agreed, Drath, as a Canadian, I can say that our police (certainly in Vancouver and Toronto, and don’t get me started about the RCMP) have far more than their share of bad apples. And right now, I wouldn’t be one to claim superiority about the defence of civil rights in Canada, certainly not by the police, and most definitely not with Harper in office.

        darthjer, I’m glad you came down off your tower of privilege to tell us how we shouldn’t be afraid of police overreaction because your rights aren’t threatened – a big part of why folks feel increasingly threatened by the cops is because they treat some people with an unreasonably greater degree of suspicion than others.

    2. Anon 20:

      I’m a proud Canadian, but our cops are mostly dickheads as well. The G20 was one of the most disgusting and enormous displays of abuse of police power I’ve ever seen in my country, and it was all allowed by the “Harper Government” as we are required to call it now.

      If anything, Canadian police are getting even worse than American police. Us Canadians have to get over our slightly passive aggressive, holier than thou attitude towards Americans and realize that Harper is basically making us into America circa about 8 years ago.

      Sorry for the somewhat off topic political rant. I couldn’t actually watch the video linked in this article because I’ve seen so many videos of power-tripping police getting away with fascist bullshit that I’m starting to get depressed.

    3. American in Canada here. Your cops are *just* as bad, I can assure you.
      1.) I was pulled over by an unmarked police car around the time of the olympics. His reason? He said that I had an American plate, so he wanted to pull me over to quiz me, he asked me if I was going to go protest at the Olympics…I was in MANITOBA. I was not, and it took a while to convince him of this, I want to know what he would have done if I had said ‘yes’, would I have been kicked out of Canada? Why were plain clothes/plain car cops pulling over Americans inside Canada to ask them this?
      2.)My girlfriend and I were beaten up by a couple of bouncers at a club in Toronto after they hit on her and she told them to go f— themselves, a cop watched this, then handcuffed me and had me in the back of his cruiser, yelling at me, etc etc.

      I have so many stories. Last year’s G8 in Toronto should have convinced every Canadian already that there’s *no* difference between Canadian and American police. Perhaps there was at one time.

  12. please tell me this guy was at least suspended. This is so terribly saddening, i cant believe it. You need to start informing more how to respond to this type of bruta-fascist-stupidity.

    There are 2 or 3 posts a week about this bullshit, how are you people not up in arms? i simply do NOT understand.

  13. “A Sargent came over and gave them advice about how to write up the report that would minimize their wrong doing.”

    Conspiracy anyone?

  14. I hope that one day soon the ACLU or somebody will latch on to one of these cases and bring it all the way up the court food chain. It would be interesting to see if the Supremo Court would say it’s ok for peopletotakepicturesofwhateverthehelltheywanttofromtheirownfuckingfrontlawns.

    Cops should just get used to having their pictures taken. And act accordingly. Everyone has video or at least a still camera in their pocket these days, and they aint going away.

  15. I guess I’ll start off the blaming of the victim. Pillory me.

    When I read the headline, I expected this to be from down at the end of the block or something, but this lady is hanging out within steps of a cop’s back, while he’s working what could be(they have no way of knowing if it is or isn’t) a dangerous situation. The cops have their attention divided by her close presence and that seems to me like what obstructing government administration would be (although I haven’t read the specific law, it seems like she’s obstructing the cops’ ability to do their job).

    Any traffic stop can be a high-pressure situation and she’s hanging back about three feet from the cop who is looking in the car. There was also some sort of exchange before the video starts that isn’t included or wasn’t recorded.

    This is just like getting arrested for joking at an airport about anything involving terrorism. You aren’t actually doing anything threatening, but you should probably get some well-deserved time in jail.

    Was she doing something stupid? Yes. Do I have any sympathy or feel that my rights are being eaten away? No. Could she have made this same video from further away? Yes. Would I feel differently if she were on her porch or down the block from the cops? Most definitely.

    1. “Yes. Do I have any sympathy or feel that my rights are being eaten away? No.”

      Well then. You are one of those who actually deserve what’s coming.

      1. Well then. You are one of those who actually deserve what’s coming.

        Fail. Everyone deserves rights.

        But have you considered a job in law enforcement? There may be a place for you! They appear to like decided who does and does not deserve rights.

        1. Everyone deserves rights.

          They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary [mostly illusory] safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
          ~ Ben Franklin

          If you sell your neighbors up the river, don’t be surprised when they don’t come to your aid.

    2. “Was she doing something stupid?”

      NO. No she was not, unless buckling under to some power-tripping fuckhead with a badge is “doing something stupid”.

      “This is just like getting arrested for joking at an airport about anything involving terrorism.”

      NO, it is not like this at all. Give me a fuckin’ break, pal. She made no comments or joke- she did NOTHING until the storm troopers started shit with her.

      “You aren’t actually doing anything threatening…”

      She wasn’t doing ANYTHING, period. It’s repulsive how willing you are to toss your rights in the trashcan.

    3. more like 3 meters away. i read your comment before i watched the video and was all ready to agree with you but mannn get your facts straight. if it was the way you said it was then yeah it’s bad but it’s not like that in the video, i dont know what the hell you’re seeing, you must have cop-vision on or something

    4. “…to be convicted of second-degree obstructing governmental administration, Good would have had to impede police through intimidation, force or a separate illegal act. Even the police arrest report notes that she was 10 to 15 feet away.”

      By the police’s own admission, Good was not 3 feet away from the car, nor was she an intimidation. Nice try though. Play again?

  16. If obstruction comes from proximity, then you remove proximity as a threat.

    The cop could have very easily ordered her to back away (for reasons left largely to his own discretion, really) and arrested her for failing to do so.

    But then… that’s not what happened, is it?

    1. He said “I don’t feel safe with you standing right behind us while we’re doing a traffic stop, so I’m going to ask you to go into your house.” It’s not like she then turned to give them more space and he pounced on her. I do think that was an unnecessarily far distance on his part, but it’s not like she backed up at all at that point. That’s actually exactly where I think she crossed the line. I was totally with her until that point.

  17. Ok, thanks for the update.
    Next up, random armed checkpoints that “request” tribute.

  18. Clearly false arrest. That police officer should be sacked for illegal arrest and professional misconduct.

    1. Indeed! the police officer should be arrested for wasting police time and obstructing police work. Wish I could say it was better here but it isn’t. When my mother challenged the right of a police officer to check her license, her car and look inside her car for no reason he said “we are the police. we do what we like and you can shut up and do as you are told”.

  19. “Any traffic stop can be a high-pressure situation and she’s hanging back about three feet from the cop who is looking in the car. ”

    I have walked (on the sidewalk) past numerous roadside stops behind an officers back and not been arrested. Your theory is flawed.

    One would think someone who is just passing by is far more of a risky situation than one just casually standing around (not to mention her own front yard ffs!).

  20. I won’t pillory you, but I will point out two things I can see right off the bat.

    First, she’s nowhere near three feet from the cop who’s looking in the car. That’s at least ten feet before she backs up, or he’s a midget.

    Second, some camera crews follow cops around in more extreme situations all the time while on the fly, running along with them and sometimes getting tangled up in the operation itself, obstructing their duty. It’s a television show called COPS.
    Yes, they are professionals and the woman is not, but when people are hanging back and filming from a greater distance than the professional cameramen would, how is the situation worse?

    Furthermore, how does having a camera in your hand make it any different than just standing in your yard, even if you’re over the easement by a step? And yes, easements are your property, you just can’t build permanent structures on them and you have to allow access for public utility workers.

    Oh well, here’s number three. Witnesses claim that there was not a hostile exchange before the start of the recording. You don’t have proof, they don’t have proof, nobody has any proof that’s been shown. So, that’s off the table, because it’s hearsay.

    I suspect he was about to put words in her mouth on video to try and justify his actions, but noticed the other witness, and changed his tactics. That’s what I can gather from his statement on camera. Either way, it’s unprovable.

    You may think the victim was being stupid, but I think the cop was being equally stupid.

  21. Cops should be able to do what ever they want. A police state is a safe state, where the state is safe, and since the state is the people, the people are safe. You should embrace cops who corrupt the law. Corrupting the law enables the state to extend their powers further to do more good. Listen to what you feel, not what you think.

    1. @anon37
      hmm. ok
      police state = safe state;
      state = people;
      people = safe;
      corrupt cops = more state power;

      so how does letting the cop abuse his power give the state more power? last time i checked getting put in jail was a disadvantage for most people. and then at that, how does that help everyone? this poor girl got arrested doing something well within her rights. dont get me wrong most of the time i comply with most cops because its their pain in the ass job, so i make it easier for them. but if i decided to record someone getting pulled over in front of my house, and they told me to just “go inside”, i wouldnt. because there would be more to the story there. sounded like he had something to hide.

  22. Yeah. I watched it again, and you guys are right that it was probably more like ten feet/three meters. Either way, my point was that she’s only steps away from an officer and hanging around while they’re doing something that requires them to turn their back on her. Police should have the ability to move people back in a situation like that. I don’t think the cop is blameless in this either. But what she did got her arrested and I think she should have been.

    To the anonymous person walking past traffic stops, I’d think if you stopped on the sidewalk behind one of the cops, they’d tell you to move along, too.

    And Knox, there were no cameramen on C.O.P.S., because it was a cartoon. Duuuh. (Is joke)

    1. Darthjer, having read the article if this was the case then why wasn’t the guy with her… standing with her arrested as well? Only the one with the camera was a threat for asserting her use of the camera.

  23. People should give police officers fellatio/cunnilingus without charge, as the authority position deserves respect, and erotic oral reception would express such respect in a manner befitting the value of the authorities. That woman is lucky that they authorities did not (justifiably) kill her for being a threat. What is this world coming to?

  24. It’s sad that this happened, yes. Every time I used to see a report like this on BB, I would get steamed just like a lot of the other commenters. Now that it seems to be starting to become (more) commonplace, I don’t get upset anymore. These sorts of things have been going on -forever- and nobody’s ever reported them. I think it’s GREAT that we’re seeing these stories now. Why? Because eventually, the public outcry will be so great as to greatly, greatly reduce these things happening. Cops and other figures in authority will be scared for their jobs, and that’s a pretty good motivation for most people to keep their cool.

    Saying this is evidence of 1984 is the same thing as saying “Sheeple!”

  25. Maybe they should issue the cops with brown shirts. At least we’d have something to compare them with.

  26. “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”

    –Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

    Seems to be getting mighty dark of late.

    The only cop who should fear a camera is a dirty cop.

  27. Someday, the police will mine the interwebs for all the responses to these fresh outrage boingboing threads. Throw mine on the pile: Bad cops suck ass. Good cops are indispensable. Unfortunately, the supply of good cops is dwindling.

  28. If you threaten the actual carrying out of policy in this country you become the enemy.

  29. This is so weird. Normally I see things on boingboing that have nothing to do with where I live, but this incident occurred 10 minutes away from my apartment. I was hoping that with the concentration of politically active college students in Rochester there would be some kind of public outcry, but as it stands it sounds as if the arresting officer is going to be investigated and then (if my experience with this city’s administration is any indicator) it will be quietly forgotten with no real outcome.

  30. I’ve got a lot of police and prison officials in my family. And to be honest, I sympathize with the officer more than I do with her.

    The threat wasn’t the camera. Every police encounter is already taped, in addition to the fact that there were multiple witnesses on the scene. The threat was simply her being there. Officer safety comes first, always. It doesn’t matter why he didn’t feel safe–that’s a null issue.

    You can’t see the officer in question, but to most cops it’s a built-in instinctual response to put your hand on your gun in case the worst occurs. If a police officer approached you with his hand on his gun, saying that your close proximity is making him feel a bit nervous–what would your reaction be? Please note that what you were observing was a routine traffic stop, not Rodney King.

    She refused an (initially) polite request. And the comments, “I’ll move a foot further back!”, “I feel like I need the fresh air right now…”, followed by feigning ignorance about understanding what he wanted–is a foolish way to deal with anyone. Dealing with an officer in that manner implies not only that your trying to educate the officer on your own rights, but you’d also be insulting his intelligence in the process by feigning compliance. The woman could clearly tape from within her house. She probably could have even taped on her porch and been in the clear.

    I’ve worked in government agencies before, and most of the people who bring up “rights”, constitutional or otherwise, into a conversation are typically looking for some sort of confrontation. And in that type of situation, the “rights” argument is the ultimate way a citizen could literally do anything they want and feel like their actions, however outlandish, were morally justified. It’s a quite selfish and entitled way of approaching problems with people who (as police officers) have to deal with some pretty sick and twisted things day-to-day and are (usually) just trying to keep the peace and get home in one piece.

    Do I think the officer handled the situation correctly? No. Do I think he had the authority to do what he did? Absolutely. Chances are he just had a long night and was tired of putting up with confrontational people for twelve-hours straight. And at worst, what happens? She goes to a local lockup for the night, posts bail in the morning, contests the charge and most likely wins. This could be a strike on the officers record. Firing officers happens all the time. Turnover is high. It’s not as much of an “old boys club” in mid-sized towns across America as people would like to think.

    Corrupt cops do exist. Corrupt police departments exist. Corrupt city police departments exist. And this officer may be a part of one of them and his actions may have been a direct response to being a part of that group–who knows. But if cops didn’t have the power to detain people they felt put their personal safety at risk, no one would want to be a cop.

    1. Using the term “entitled” to describe the person making the video is ridiculous. As Americans we are entitled to be free. My definition of ultimate entitlement is being paid by our tax dollars to be a jack booted thug. I hope that the idiot who charged her with a crime is given an opportunity to make himself useful in the private sector. Being forced to support this kind of stupidity with my taxes is offensive.

    2. “Firing officers happens all the time. ”

      Citation needed.

      I also like the fact that “rights” are always in quotes for you.

    3. Wait, so your excuse for this behavior is the cops have a “built in” hand on weapon response? Please. I would be willing to bet I have more time in high danger areas than this cop could ever dream of, and yet I never felt the urge to place my hand on my weapon in front of civilians unless I felt it was to be used, to use weak excuses to accomplish my mission, nor to arrest people for simply observing me doing my duty.
      This was a thug cop, plain and simple. He knew what he was doing was wrong, but rather than drop it and go about doing his duty, he stayed stuck on stupid, and intimidated a civilian doing nothing more than keeping an eye on things.
      You feel he was authorized to argue with a civilian than had committed no crime, to threaten arrest on something as nebulous as “I don not feel safe” then cuff her and arrest her? Now where does that authority come from? What law, rule, regulation or statute allows a police officer to harass and arrest a private citizen for nothing more than videotaping a traffic stop?
      I may be wrong, but the cameras in the officers cars point to the front. I noticed they seemed to stay out of the view of most of them. Granted, it is hard to be certain, but that is what it seemed like. I believe they knew they were out of line, and did not want what they were doing to see the light of day. I would have to say the 1 hour meeting in the school parking lot (which sounds like errant schoolboys working on the best story to cover truancy) bears out this line of reasoning.
      When the police forget whom they serve, and stop treating we citizens with respect, the system takes an ugly turn. When justification for poor behavior on the part of the police is “he felt threatened” and “just do what they say and it will all be okay” then the people who have sworn an oath to secure our homes, lives and businesses now become as great a threat as those they are suppose to stop.
      Also, one final question. 4 officers for a simple traffic stop? With all the yelling for increased funding for more police, was it really necessary to bring all these officers in for one car? And this is not the first time I have seen this. 3,4,5 cars for stop, in broad daylight, of 1 car. If the officers feel that threatened, perhaps they are in the wrong line of work.

    4. Actually it does matter why an officer doesn’t feel safe. The reason has nothing to do with anything the public does, but rather the lies cops tell themselves and the public. The lie that their job is steeped in constant danger. The fact is the odds of an officer getting killed by a suspect while on the job are minuscule. ” most cops it’s a built-in instinctual response to put your hand on your gun in case the worst occurs.” Unfortunately the “worst” is most likely the cop taking the life of an unarmed citizen. Not anything happening to the cop. This “built-in instinct” is known as hyper-vigilance and is considered a mental disorder, yet it is purposely bred into cops and it is a danger to the public.

      And, no cop can detain someone just because they feel unsafe. The Supreme Court, in Terry v. Ohio, held that police can only detain a citizen if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime and has a reasonable belief that the person “may be armed and presently dangerous.” And since the court also held that his reasonable suspicion must be based on “specific and articulable facts” and not merely upon an officer’s hunch or a general fear of the public.

      And the worst that happens is not that she goes to a local lockup for the night, posts bail in the morning, contests the charge and most likely wins. What happens was she lost her freedom for the night, had to spend money (that will never be reimbursed) and, even if she wins, she will still have to list this arrest on every job application, admissions forms, etc. All that for doing absolutely nothing wrong, while the officer will at best get paid time off while they are investigating.

      And based on the Rochester Police departments blatant harassment and intimidation tactics aimed at residents attending a meeting in support of Emily Good, (http://goo.gl/E1dul) I doubt anything will happen to this criminal with a badge.

  31. I, as well as my roommates, are in law enforcement.

    Aside from not actually having a valid reason to arrest the woman, the officer handled the situation well. Characterizing him as being overly aggressive is off the mark. He issued clear commands in an even tone. He was not abusive.

    He likely made a huge mistake in arresting a homeowner on her lawn for recording the traffic stop. It really hangs on what she said, before she started recording. I have yet to see or hear what that comment was, but it might have been inflammatory enough to explain the officer’s reaction to her continued presence. I tend to think the officer screwed up, and that is based on the reported events after the arrest. It is not normal for four officers to stand around with a supervisor in an empty parking lot discussing how to write the report on an incident. It may take an hour to write the actual report, but it generally is not be preceded by an hour long conference on what to write.

    The agency I work for has cars equipped to record video and sound. Everything is recorded and the officers prefer it this way. The idiots are given the boot by their own recorded actions and the unfounded complaints (and there are a lot of them) are quickly cleared up. This doesn’t completely eliminate the idiots and problem officers, but it sure helps.

    1. Aside from not actually having a valid reason to arrest the woman, the officer handled the situation well.

      Is anyone else reminded of this?
      “Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”

    2. If the arrest was justified, why was only the camera-holder arrested and not her companion, the witness who was standing along side her?

      Clearly, the arresting officer felt threatened by being filmed, not by the presence of the woman.

    3. Having cameras and mics in cars and on cops mean nothing. It happens all too often around here that for some reason the recording equipment conveniently malfunctioned or is conveniently obstructed during a questionable action.

      It works for them when they want it to and they turn it off when it’s power trip time. As long as the cop has control over the equipment, he controls what it sees and hears.

    4. “Aside from not actually having a valid reason to arrest the woman, the officer handled the situation well. ”

      You are joking, right?

      I have a question. Can your cops actually give orders to citizens? Thats frightening. Isnt there some sort of habeas corpus law?

    5. I’m surprised. You and your law enforcement roomies should know the difference between “asking” someone to do something and “commanding” someone to do something. When a police officer “asks” you to do something, he can do that all day long and you don’t need to comply. When a police officer “commands” you to do something, he needs a pretty damn good reason for it.

      And I’m sorry for the society where “standing on your own lawn holding a camera” already counts as a reason, let alone a damn good one, and there seriously are people who don’t have a problem with that. America, the land of the formerly free.

  32. This is in stark contrast to the cop I saw yesterday. We have had days on end being blanketed with thick clouds of smoke for the past few weeks. An elderly homeless man was struggling in the hazardous air, trying to haul his cart, and was clearly having difficulty. The cop, off duty but in his cruiser, pulled over to help the man, and was clearly concerned and trying to get the old guy some help.
    So some of them are human still. Just seem to be increasing numbers of asshattery amongst them.

  33. I have had several experiences with having to fight bogus charges by the police. The defense attorney I hired said that he sees people arrested and jailed all the time simply because the cop didn’t like the way the person looked. What I have seen is that most city police see citizens as the enemy and they have long since lost even the ability to be polite, much less reasonable.

  34. There is a difference between property and premises as defined by law. Property encompasses premises. Premises is the part of property that is not publicly accessible, such as an office building, garage, or house.

    You can legally enter someone’s property without entering someone’s premises. Had the cop entered her premises, there would be further legal issues for him.

    I’m not condoning what he did, don’t get me wrong. However, if you’re going to vilify someone, you need to do it for the right reasons (a problem that seems all too common on BB). She was wrongfully arrested and a false police report was created. I hope all officers involved are fired. I don’t care if this means they lose their livelihood, they don’t need to be in this position of power.

  35. @Anon: You shouldn’t make fun of the woman for crying. If the cops can just arrest you for no reason, who knows what else they can do. That is terrifying. I’d cry too.

    Every time I see a citizen attempt to stand up to a cop and then get whiny or start crying when the cop arrests them, I groan. If you’re going to stand up to a cop, good for you! But understand that you may be arrested going into it, and be prepared to maintain your composure! When you start whining, I think that it reinforces in the cop’s mind how little respect you deserve. It sends the message that you agree with him/her that you are wrong. If you maintain composure, I think it reinforces your original message: that you are in the right and are not deserving of arrest.

    @darthjer: here was also some sort of exchange before the video starts that isn’t included or wasn’t recorded.

    You don’t know this. You’re taking the cop’s word on this. You’re not considering that he could have fabricated that statement in order to justify his bullying of the camera-person. If that’s the case, his misdirection worked on you!

  36. I’m from Rochester, and this *JUST* hit our local fishwrappers.

    There’s a couple of things going on here; First, the arrested woman has been making a name for herself over the last couple of months for other reasons. She was arrested for staging a sit-in at some foreclosed houses, for example. So the cop may or may not have been familiar with her already, and could have perceived her as a “troublemaker”.

    Second, Rochester and the surrounding suburbs have had way more than their share of police scandals in the last couple of years. A local chief is now in jail for corruption. Ditto his police-officer son. I won’t even get into the cops who have had a distressing tendency to kill people with their cars while off duty, and yet speeding around at 90+ MPH. So I would not be surprised if there’s a bit of siege mentality going on, as well.

    Not that any of that justifies the arrest in any way, shape, or form. While I think the cop acted reasonably professionally in the minutes leading up to the arrest, he should have let the situation go. She wasn’t interfering by any plausible stretch of the imagination.

    Now the chief says that there will be a full, impartial investigation. Since this is the same chief who blamed a local amusement park for some local gang riots on Memorial Day, because the park had been threatened with rioting and decided to just close down for the day instead, I have the utmost confidence that logic will prevail.

  37. police officers aren’t even allowed to take photos of themselves and randomly post them and if this man was innocent, which it seems, it’s embarrassing to him to be videotaped (I think they left him free). I’m a volunteer police officer.

  38. You know one of the things that you’re told is important in 4th ammendment cases is that when a cop ASKS to search your propeerty, acceeding to that request means that the search is not illegal and does not violate your fourth ammendment rights. Notwitstanding the fact that they are armed and intimidating, you are not under an obligation to consent. So when this policeman says “I’m going to ask you to go in your house,” are we to believe that we ARE under an obligation to comply? Which requests are requests and which are orders?

  39. I agree with the comments along the lines of “though the arrest may have been wrong, the cop acted professionally and politely.” The only questions are, was his order lawful, and was arrest the wise choice when she refused to comply with his order? If it was a lawful order then the problem is with the law, not the cop. You could argue that it was a bad judgment call to use city resources to enforce the law at that point, but I don’t see a case for the cop being fired, prosecuted, or morally condemned. In my ignorance I can see good reasons why it should and should not have been a lawful order, so I just hope the courts will decide fairly, and then that the legislatures will adjust the law accordingly.

  40. This is not a criticism of bb, I generally agree with these items, but the more posts about cops that I read on boingboing, the more reasonable anarchism sounds. #badcop,nodonut

  41. I am one of the many people who loves to forward videos and articles of police harassment and police brutality to wake people up to the burgeoning police state in this country.

    But watching this video I simply do not see this as a part of that trend. What I see is a traffic stop that occured in front of somebody’s house, and then the resident decided to go stand out in her front yard a few feet away from the cops on duty and start filming them. The cop asked her many times, politely even, to just go back in the house. He made no reference to there being a problem with the actual filming, he did not take away her camera, etc., he just did not want some rubberneckers in close proximity that could potentially compromise what had been (until she arrived) a pretty smooth and incident-free stop and arrest.

    Seriously, she could have filmed the damn video from her window. She was out there to antagonize the cops. You don’t do that in any country.

    No please go ahead and tell me that when some cop who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed decides to bash my skull in, I will have fully deserved it.

    1. No please go ahead and tell me that when some cop who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed decides to bash my skull in, I will have fully deserved it.

      No, I’ll tell you that when it happens to your child or your spouse or your parent, you were one of the people that created a political atmosphere that allowed it to happen.

  42. It’s crazy seeing how fast people jump to “police brutality” in a situation like this. Poor girl should have just done what she was told, and head inside her house. The same people that jump to “police brutality” is the same people that would’ve raged if she’d gotten shot because they didn’t get her away from the scene. Yes, it may seem unfair that she can’t be on her own front lawn, but you wouldn’t be complaining if her house was on fire, and a firefighter removed her forcefully. This may not look like a life and death situation, but unless you can predict the future, then you have no way to know how it evolves. And seeing how three cop cars show up, this guy might have been suspected of being armed and dangerous.

  43. It has been mentioned here that many cops are already being recorded.

    While this is true, the obvious problem is that the police themselves control this data. In Seattle, there is an almost institutional policy of claiming footage is lost when an officer’s behavior is brought into question.

    Here is the best example of a PD getting caught red handed hiding footage / lying about it, in court : http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/Local-computer-security-expert-investigates-887914.php

    Bonus: You can see an assault rifle in the patrol car. Seattle has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country, with 19 murders in 2010, but apparently every patrol officer needs to be armed like they are in Afghanistan.

  44. You know, years ago if somebody had gotten arrested because there was a traffic stop in front of her house and she had decided to go outside and rubberneck and antagonize the cops, the reaction would assuredly have been “good, she was an idiot”.

    So this incident and the reaction to it are part and parcel with the problem of too much security in this country, and the ongoing class struggle. This incident in itself is really not outrageous. The guy told her, repeatedly and politely, to “move along please”, go back in the house, not at all unreasonable, as police do have the authority to set up a reasonable safe temporary perimeter, even if that extends onto somebody’s “private property”.

    And years ago this chick would probably have just complied if she had two or more brain cells to rub together.

    But in today’s culture . . . viral vid fame, newbie activism, and a desire to shoehorn EVERY encounter with the police into the paradigm of BIG BROTHER and so forth, well there it is I guess.

    To me the lesson here is that respect is a two way street. Don’t automatically treat every cop like he’s a bad cop. And if you want to be an agitator, grow a pair, and learn the law. First rule is, keep your mouth shut.

    1. “First rule is, keep your mouth shut.”

      My copy of the constitution must be faulty. I couldn’t that line anywhere.

  45. psst. I actually lean toward the cops in this one.

    -The officer told her he didn’t feel safe, that she needed to go inside or back to her house.
    -She ignored the officer, played dumb, and told him about her rights.
    -And she was arrested.

    Really don’t see an issue here. The officer gave you a fairly straight forward and reasonable request. You ignored it, and he arrested you in order to eliminate that situation.

    I see this exactly the same way as dancing at the Jefferson Memorial thing that came up a month ago or so.

    If anything I would have liked to see the cop more blatantly tell the woman go back inside or you will be arrested. That makes it extremely clear as to what is going to happen.
    (Oh, and I agree with who ever said that she needs to man up and stop crying. Stop whining that you think your rights are being violated. Suck up a little anger and composure, and deal with the charges in a nice and logical way.)

    1. psst. I actually lean toward the cops in this one.

      If this video shows anything, it’s that leaning toward the cops is not a good idea.

  46. If you want to practice civil disobedience, realize that getting arrested and going through the system is part of that process. Don’t cry about it when it happens!

    And another good rule of thumb might be to pick your battles wisely, and avoid making mountains out of molehills (like this one), because it really trivializes what is a legitimate cause.

    1. Standing on your lawn with a camera is not civil disobedience. As far as I can tell, there was no lawful order given to her. The officer could ask her to do the hokey pokey all day long, but she is not required to comply.

      As far as making a mountain out of a molehill, any violation of civil rights is worth addressing, if the person violated feels it should be. While you may be okay with giving up your civil liberties in some situations, please don’t assume to make that decision for others.

      1. Standing on your lawn with a camera is not civil disobedience.

        That’s not what she was arrested for.

        She was arrested for refusing to comply with his explicit order to get back in the house.

        He also explicitly warned her that she would be arrested if she failed to do so. So that’s what makes this civil disobedience in my mind. She deliberately got herself arrested to challenge . . . something or other. I think she started crying when she realized she didn’t know what the point was either.

        1. > He also explicitly warned her that she would be arrested if she failed to do so. So that’s what makes this civil disobedience in my mind. She deliberately got herself arrested to challenge . . . something or other. I think she started crying when she realized she didn’t know what the point was either.

          It’s awesome how some people can read minds.

          1. Thanks, it’s a talent that comes in handy pretty often.

            Maybe she was able to read minds too? Or did she ask the suspect very nicely if he wanted to be filmed by a total stranger during what was probably a pretty embarassing moment?

            Whatever, its not like what he wanted or the police officer demanded are of any consequence, it was her constitutional right to stand on her front lawn and rubberneck during a police arrest. Years from now, kids will be reading her tweets about the incident the way we once read Letter From Birmingham Jail in school.

  47. Somewhat more alarming than this video is one that has been on Aljazeera recently, in which a man videos Miami police shooting another person in their car to death, leaves the area and is chased down by cops and has a gun stuck in his face (the last image on the video) while he and his girlfriend are in their car trying to leave. He gets arrested and his phone is smashed by the cop. Fortunately he managed to get the memory out of the phone and hide it before the phone is destroyed. I haven’t seen this incident reported on any US media outlet. The person killed was shot for using their vehicle as a weapon, although the car never moves in this video. As the video starts halfway thru the shooting this may well be true, but what happens to the person shooting the video is pretty clearly not justifiable.
    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/06/201162114131825860.html

    1. I haven’t seen this incident reported on any US media outlet.

      So what you’re saying then is you don’t actually WATCH any U.S. media outlets. Because this has been HEAVILY covered. What you’re actually saying is you haven’t seen outrage over said incident. And honestly, given the dramatic nature of the shooting, the detaining of one guy who recorded video who was released without being charged isn’t terribly shocking in this Post 9/11-Patriot Act world.

      I mean seriously, have you heard of Google? Misrepresenting the facts does no service to your argument. Misconduct of the police does not translate into letting you spin a conspiracy tale. The truth is that the actual shooting and the reckless behavior of the guy who got shot overshadows the civil rights story. ‘If it bleeds, it leads’ is still as true as the day it was first cited.

      CBS:
      http://miami.cbslocal.com/2011/06/07/witness-claims-police-tried-to-destroy-sobe-shooting-video/

      ABC:
      http://www.mysuncoast.com/mostpopular/story/Eyewitness-to-Miami-Beach-shooting-alleges-police/SwhkyhD2x0-g9Al7BGLMfQ.cspx

      MSNBC:
      http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/06/08/6812110-memory-card-in-mouth-saves-police-shooting-video

      Miami Herald:
      http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/06/07/2255948/miami-beach-police-deny-destroying.html

      Miami New Times:
      http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2011/06/miami_beach_police_deny_smashi.php

      Fun Fact: the movie Network is now 35 years old. And more true now than then.

    2. “He also had a string of arrests as an adult — 14 since 2007, according to state records, mostly involving drugs, driving without a valid license and missing court dates.” Which I guess if you live in america translates to a death sentence.

      Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/06/01/2245601/miami-beach-police-chief-defends.html#ixzz1QJnEO15a

      Here’s something else I though was interesting. It’s about the war on cameras.

      http://youtu.be/LY0MUARqisM

  48. The constitution is not an ad hoc instruction manual for encounters with the police. If this is what you’ve been using it for, I think I’ve figured out your problem.

    It’s silliness to think that a lay understanding of the constitution and and the bill of rights and hundreds of years of court rulings and stare decisis is fortification enough to go into a law enforcement situation and be confrontational.

    Which is why I said “keep your mouth shut” is a good rule of thumb for newbie shit stirrers, especially if you don’t know what the fuck you are doing, you do have the right not to talk to the police, so use that right!

    But if you want to get serious about political activism, get some lawyer friends and learn some impulse control would be rules #2 and 3, respectively.

  49. The officer gave numerous commands that she did not follow. There is no need for the officer to explain his rational or the legality of an order.In fact arguing with the officer about his command only adds to the element of obstruction.

    You must follow an officers command and if you feel that your rights are violated there are avenues which can be followed at A LATER TIME. The officer will gladly explain to you all of the reasons that you have been arrested on your trip to jail but only after he has finished doing what you interrupted.

    If you fail to comply with a command then you are breaking the law and the officer may use force in order to make the arrest. This is an extremely well settled area of law. All of the people making comments such as “I know my rights” are almost always the ones that don’t have a clue.

    1. “You must follow an officers command and if you feel that your rights are violated there are avenues which can be followed at A LATER TIME. The officer will gladly explain to you all of the reasons that you have been arrested on your trip to jail but only after he has finished doing what you interrupted.”

      Please explain how this safeguards the public from an officer who is clearly not following proper police procedure? I’d really like a good explanation if you feel this is a must.
      To be specific, yet hypothetical, officers who beat, grope or rape citizens during traffic stops, engage in witness intimidation, or who are guilty of murdering citizens in cold blood? In the last situation, it’s kind of hard to redress your rights at a later time.

  50. Wrong. Officer safety does not come first. The law and citizens’ rights come first. An officer’s first responsibility is not to stay safe, it is to uphold the law.

    A good analogy is military service. My personal safety is not my highest ideal. If it were, laying waste to an entire village harboring a lone sniper would be justified.

    I saw three officers on the scene. One suspect in cuffs. One woman with a camera. If three big tough men don’t think they can handle a restrained suspect and a woman with a camera while remaining safe, then maybe they ought to rethink their career choice.

  51. I have some slide pictures I took of an accident that I took outside my house one night. I had lived there for years and at least once a year, someone comes around the corner and buries their car into this same tree. Over and over. At night time it is hard to judge the degree of the curve and people habitually speed up to 40 mph OVER the limit here. I actually never got the film developed, but it was of the car before anyone came and after. The 16 year old trapped inside died even after using the Jaws of Life. I didn’t get close enough to take pictures of her (or what was left of her) as I was too panicked and afraid to approach (car might catch on fire I thought). I wonder if that has legal implications. I’ve witnessed several gruesome accidents in my life.

  52. Police do not own the city, they are hired to police it. They have limits to their authority and must follow laws, rules and procedures. Reviewing the video, it is apparent:

    1. there was no provocation whatsoever for the police to interfere with a citizen who was watching or photographing a police stop.

    2. The police officer has no basis to claim a “fear for his safety” because there is another person present.

    3. There was no basis for the officer to conclude she was “anti-police”.

    4. There was no basis for the police to instruct her to move into her house or a foot backwards from where she was able to observe the police stop.

    5. The officer had no basis whatsoever to believe a law was violated to cause her arrest.

    The City should be ashamed to have police of such low caliber on its force. In most jurisdictions, police officers are subject to official and civil sanctions for exceeding their authority which occurred here.

    1. Police Complaints
      1-585-546-5110 (Center for Dispute Settlement)
      1-585-428-7131 (Professional Standards Section)

  53. Those who says the cop was right in arresting her does not answer one important question. Why was her companion not arrested as well? And I also disagree with those who says she was arrested for filming the cops.

    She was arrested for that common offense that is not in the books anywhere. “pissing off the cop”. This explains the need for the 1 hour conference on the parking lot to think of something else to charge her for.

    It also explains why her companion was not arrested. After she was arrested, he picked up the camera and carried on filming, and even conducted a short interview with the cop. The cop said he was OK with that because he was standing in front of the cop, not behind him. Which sounds weird to me. Because she was never standing behind him. The cop who arrested her and complained about her standing behind him was standing on the far side of the car at the start of the video.

  54. Another tactic some cops use is to yell “stop resisting” while they have their knee on someones neck. They like to abuse suspects this way, pretending they are resisting arrest.

  55. Ҥ 195.05 Obstructing governmental administration in the second degree.
    A person is guilty of obstructing governmental administration when he intentionally obstructs, impairs or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from performing an official function, by means of intimidation, physical force or interference, or by means of any independently unlawful act, or by means of interfering, whether or not physical force is involved, with radio, telephone, television or other telecommunications systems owned or operated by the state, or a county, city, town, village, fire district or emergency medical service or by means of releasing a dangerous animal under circumstances evincing the actor’s intent that the animal obstruct governmental administration.
    Obstructing governmental administration is a class A misdemeanor.”

    From here.

    Well, that’s *that* bullshit charge out of the window. She did none of the above, being as she was a quiet and passive observer throughout, until the cop challenged her.

  56. Regarding the trespass angle …

    Generally, “[a]n officer is permitted the same license to intrude [on private property] as a reasonably respectful citizen.” People v. Thompson (1990) 221 Cal.App.3d 923, 943). Also, “Law enforcement officers may encroach upon the curtilage of a home for the purpose of asking questions of the occupants. U.S. v. Hammett (9th Cir. 2001) 236 F.3d 1054, 1059).

    While officers are permitted to trespass (so-called technical trespass as opposed to criminal trespass) on private property for these reasons, they may only do so if such trespass serves the public interest and is congruent with the expectation to privacy that a private citizen is entitled to. (“Court asked whether the officers have a legitimate need to be there, or were they ‘simply snooping?’ U.S. v. Daoust(1st Cir. 1990) 916 F.2d 757.)

    Trespassing in order to enact the arrest of a woman passively filming a traffic stop from her front yard is not covered by such a definition.

  57. I have followed the coverage of this incident on both HP and BB with great interest because it perfectly illustrates the difference between the sheep and the non-sheep. Those who willingly justify the action of the police officer in assuming that the control of the officer is the most important element of the situation are the first to propose that, of course, anyone in the vicinity should passively accept his commands, abandon their own individual rights, and accede to the voice of authority.
    Those who are predisposed to consider the police to be bullies in uniform, the point of the spear in a battle with an unruly citizenry, of course find the police to have overstepped their boundaries.
    I have had enough encounters with unnecessarily authoritarian figures with a little bit of power, to fall on the side of the woman trying to videotape the police. The danger to all of us is greater in ceding our rights to over-aggressive authority figures, than the danger to the ability of the officer to do his job. If he can’t distinguish between a woman with a camera, and a threatening thug with a weapon, he has no business trying to do the job. If we can’t see that we are sliding downhill to a Big Brother society and fight against it, then we deserve to end up there.

  58. Cops can truly protect and serve. They can also be close-minded and abusive. In light of the job they do, and the kind of people who gravitate toward this kind of work, I have learned to never argue with them. Never. Unless you want to spend a lot of time with the legal system. We definitely need to push back against the abuses, but we won’t make any progress thinking we can have a logical and fruitful conversation with a policeman who is threatened at the moment by being filmed.

  59. To those who feel she wasn’t “following his orders” – he’s never given her an order. He’s clearly and unmistakably “asked” her to go into her house. That’s not an order, even when he exclaims she isn’t following his “orders”. That’s merely a request, she doesn’t have to obey it. Not a basis for an arrest by any stretch.

    And besides, he never had any basis to give her an order to begin with. That initial call of his “I don’t feel safe with you standing there” is a bullshit exclamation he utters in all consciousness knowing that he has to create some sort of bogus precedent situation to subsequently have a bogus reason to go after someone filming him. This is all about stopping the filming, and nothing else. Everything else is bogus. Abuse of power without any doubt in my mind.

    He might hate the fact that some random citizen is filming him in public while he’s performing his public-service tax-funded job. Fair enough, I can sympathize with that to some degree. But that’s tough luck for him – people have a right to do that. Period.

  60. The bottom line is it is not the observer’s responsibility to censor what the actor didn’t censor themselves.

    The right of a land owner to record whatever they well please that is visible from their property should be Constitutionally framed as a protected liberty.

  61. This raises an interesting question that I’ve been unable to resolve so far: is there any statute or case law which gives some idea of what constitutes a “lawful order” from a law-enforcement officer. Most states seem to have statutes requiring compliance with “lawful orders” from LEOs, but I’ve found a morass of contradictory assertions about what can actually be considered a “lawful order.” The assertions range from “A lawful order is anything I tell you to do which doesn’t require you to break the law,” to “A police officer can’t legitimately arrest you for noncompliance with a ‘lawful order’ unless there are pertinent laws requiring the action he’s demanding anyway.” I’d be grateful for any pointers to relevant statutes or cases.

  62. Ok. The woman had a point. However, she pushed the issue after the officer said he “felt unsafe”. Police need to be held accountable, but when they start making arrest threats, it’s a good idea to retreat to a position where you can record and not be seen. In this case, possibly, inside her house.

    There’s a certain reality to be faced with abusive police culture, mainly that the police are going to push the limit of what they do, including coming up with trumped-up charges for someone with a camcorder or smartphone. Some common sense guidelines for recording police activity safely would be a good idea. She could have saved herself a lot of trouble by simply recording from her front window, or at a point where she wouldn’t be seen.

  63. So,
    while the baby-boom generation was telling their parent what they did during WW II was the right thing to do,and smoking pot ,and having sex in the mud, the government established a police state. Baby Boomers failed in the “revolution”

    As well, if YOU were smart,capable would you sign up to be a beat cop? arresting penny-anti-thugs for drug possession probably not.The don’t exactly get genius’s enrolling at the police academy do they?

    Not all Popo are unwise or thugs themselves, I know that, but really., in my opinion they sign up for the power, the power to legally wield that badge and gun. I wish they acted more like (secular) medieval Paladins,fighting for justice,tempered with wisdom and a working knowledge of history.

    “Just following orders”

  64. I smell a lawsuit. Hope the cop can say, “Do you want fries with that?” better than he deals with situations like this…

    1. Police are rarely punished harshly even for obvious misuse of power.

      A lot of people in discussions of behavior like this are tragically unaware of how difficult it is to fire a corrupt or incompetent police officer.

      Most of the time the odds are higher of the bastards being shot on the job than they are for them actually being meaningfully punished for their actions. I would really prefer it if that were reversed as I would much rather see them fired than sit around impotently hoping they catch a bullet or get stabbed.

  65. While I totally agree that she was within her right to record what was happening from her yard when an officer ‘asks’ you to do something it is actually an order. If you don’t comply they can arrest you for obstruction. This is usually done so they can carry out their job safely. That said, the officer clearly was using this as a method of intimidation. Judgement is a big part of an officer’s job and he used bad judgement in this case. She disobeyed his order and was arrested. I hope she gets the case thrown out, but I doubt she has legal recourse to sue.

  66. The bad thing is this happens all the time. The good thing is that I am sitting in the UK and am aware of the incident.

  67. My mom was once arrested for being drunk in her own home. Well, that’s one possible view.

    She was drunk and sick from with her liver failing too. She was bleeding massive amounts of blood rectally and called 911. When they arrived, they saw she was drunk and treated her badly even though there was a large pool of blood on the kitchen floor and her pants soaked. She decided that she would much rather hemorrhage to death than go with them, it would have been in her nature to do this drunk or not. But regulations state that if someone calls 911 for these types of situations then refuses to go, the police would be called in, I think to document and protect the responders from litigation. Makes sense.

    A new cop on the force thought it was his job to FORCE her to go and he grabbed her wrist and tried to pry her drink from her hand. She made the huge mistake of saying “take your hands off of me!” and slapped his hand away.

    I wish I could post the photo of her taken the next day; almost her entire face is black and blue and she couldn’t walk for a week or two due her back being re-injured and other torn/strained muscles. She was 67, weak, emaciated and 110 lb’s.

    That night, She was eventually taken to the emergency room for that incident by the same aid responders and she received a bedside visit from the police chief; My mom would never tell me what was discussed, but she never pursued the incident.

  68. Oh, I am so sorry I am no longer practicing law. How I envy the lawyer
    who will get this one. Rochester has deep pockets. It will find it needs them
    for hiring pond scum like this cop,who should NEVER be on a police force
    anywhere but Pakistan.

    This is such a beautiful tape. I can just see it play to a jury.

    I hope this story gets viral play on the Internet.
    I hope Rochester loses its shirt in the ensuing Federal action.

    It is no better than the KKK. This is no isolated incident. It
    happens every night. What was the guy’s crime? walking while Black?
    What did he DO to have the cops stop and search him in the first place?

  69. The not standing behind the officer thing is legitimate. Once she got on her yard she should be ok. I’m a former LEO and I’m not sure what the laws in NY are regarding this. But some guys get all indignant when a citizen films them. I wouldn’t like it but it’s a sign of the times and as long as you are going by policy you should be good. Departments need to outline to their guys what they can and cannot do in those situations.

    My opinion was once she was in her yard she’s ok and you just ignore the person filming and go about what you need to do. I’m sure the DA getting this case is going to be thrilled.

  70. This very common in China or other non democratic corrupted countries.
    Well done America!

  71. So, police excuse-makers, how do you feel about the latest crack police work in Rochester when they send FOUR cops to ticket people at a meeting supporting this woman for parking more than 12 inches from the curb? They even brought a pink ruler. So much for the First Amendment.

  72. And they wonder why the general public mistrust and despise police officers? This is just appalling. These bullies need to be suspended or fired. Nothing will happen though.. The corruption runs much deeper that just a street cop.

  73. Good thing the coppers never saw me videotaping their traffic stops and arrests outside my house many times a year back when I lived on that busy corner. Second story window is where it’s at.
    Hey buttheads, you wake me up in the middle of the night once a month or so, I film you arresting girls. No big d.

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