PetaPixel

News Photographer Arrested for Filming End of Police Chase from Sidewalk

Freelance news photographer Phil Datz was recording the conclusion of a police chase from the opposite sidewalk last Friday when he was confronted by a police officer and commanded to “go away”. Though he politely obeyed and moved a block further from the scene, the officer decided to arrest him for “obstruction of governmental administration”. The latest news is that the department is planning to drop the charges and put its officers through “media relations training”.

(via Poynter via Gizmodo)


 
  • John McCormick

    I think that cop needs more consequences than media relations training. I think he needs early retirement. He’s a menace.

  • John McCormick

    I think that cop needs more consequences than media relations training. I think he needs early retirement. He’s a menace.

  • John McCormick

    I think that cop needs more consequences than media relations training. I think he needs early retirement. He’s a menace.

  • John McCormick

    I think that cop needs more consequences than media relations training. I think he needs early retirement. He’s a menace.

  • Guest

    retire this asshole.

  • Guest

    retire this asshole.

  • Man with a camera

    Totally idiotic. Police are public servants. Why they need to do something away from the public eyes?

  • guest

    Wow, what a jerk – does that cop not have anything better to do

  • Bryanjzimmerman

    Unbelievable!

    Someone should have arrested the cop for being a jack ass!

  • Paul

    But why do photographers like this behave as if they wish to be arrested? I suppose they need to prove how much we photographers are suffering.

  • Clearlight

    @Paul – WTF are you talking about? How was the photographer being rude? And even if he was it is not a crime to be rude to a power-tripping public servant while they are in the process of violating your constitutional rights. 

  • http://twitter.com/patrickahles Patrick Ahles

    He is an officer OF the law, he is not the law itself… Being a cop does not give you the right to be an asshole. Even if the photographer would have been rude, the cop does not have to behave like that. The photographer however never was rude, he only wanted to know what it was he was doing wrong. “Go away” is not the right answer to that question! So media training is justified here, but the cop in question should be assigned to desk duty for a month too.

  • Paul

    Our duty as photographers, indeed as human beings, is to first be in control of our own bodies and tongues before we begin quibbling about the behavior of others. It’s difficult to be sympathetic with a “martyr” whose behavior is marked by insolence. Basic respect for those placed in authority would cause the photographer to behave in such a way as to diffuse the situation instead of provoking an officer who is apparently worked up — for example, at the very least, by turning the camera off and backing away before quizzing the officer. These incidents of “professional” photographers acting like babies pretending to be persecuted are symptomatic of a larger problem of godlessness in our culture, and are going to result in more laws being applied against us. A police chase and arrest, as in this case, is a sensitive situation and deserves some respect from anybody who is standing around. The officer has a duty to be in control of that situation, and deserves to be respected.

  • Paul

    He was being rude by pretending to not notice that the officer was riled up — by leaving his camera on and hanging around when the officer was trying to do his job with a situation he was in charge of. Constitutional rights! This is about manners. If a dad was changing his baby’s diaper, I could stand and stare and call it my constitutional right — or I could simply be polite and back off, especially if he asked me to.

  • KP

    The photographer was in a public space – the officer being ‘riled up’ is no one else’s problem but the officers.

    Equating the filming of a car chase to the changing of a baby’s diaper is idiotic.

  • Bryanjzimmerman

    If you go back to the article, the last comment, “The latest news is that the department is planning to drop the charges and put its officers through “media relations training.” 

    This clearly shows that the officer WAS in the wrong.

    Furthermore, there was no “rudeness”  by the photographer, he handled it much better than most. 

    P.S. Regarding the diaper comment, if I were changing the diaper, especially in a public area, I would expect a few stares and comments and would never ask anyone to “back off.” 

  • Bryanjzimmerman

    If you go back to the article, the last comment, “The latest news is that the department is planning to drop the charges and put its officers through “media relations training.” 

    This clearly shows that the officer WAS in the wrong.

    Furthermore, there was no “rudeness”  by the photographer, he handled it much better than most. 

    P.S. Regarding the diaper comment, if I were changing the diaper, especially in a public area, I would expect a few stares and comments and would never ask anyone to “back off.” 

  • Anonymous

    “Being a cop does not give you the right to be an asshole.” – but you can be an asshole and become a cop…

  • Nude Moode

    So it WAS the camera!
    Anyone else eyeballing weren’t arrested…

  • Paul

    Well, equating it to some sort of human rights issue is also idiotic.

    The officer being riled up was the officer’s problem, but the photographer’s reaction was the photographer’s problem. It’s not necessarily an either-or situation.

  • Paul

    “Anyone else” without a camera turned on the cop’s face wasn’t acting like that.

  • Munnjo

    I completely disagree with you here Paul.  People have the legal right to photograph or film on public property.  The camera man didn’t initiate anything in this confrontation; the police officer approached him, even though he was well out of the way.  The only reason Police Officers don’t like being filmed is that there is proof of their behavior and the can be held accountable for their actions….well guess what?  They ARE accountable for their actions.  They are public servants and are supposed to be enforcing the law, not making laws up to prevent them from possibly looking bad.  By agreeing to turn off that camera, you’re giving a legal right that everyone is entitled to!  This officer was clearly the initiator of the confrontation and was trying to intimidate the photographer and I whole heartily believe the officer was at fault here. Let’s look at even just a few examples from this site as to why this is so important:

    http://www.petapixel.com/2011/07/22/why-citizens-must-fight-for-their-right-to-point-cameras-at-police/

    http://www.petapixel.com/2011/07/20/six-photographers-test-their-right-to-shoot-in-london/

  • http://twitter.com/guitwrtr Bryan Zimmerman

    AWESOME RESPONSE MUNNJO!

    The video links are awesome!

  • Paul

    When I’m in the museum, I respect the requests of the curator; when I’m at the pool, I “obey” the lifeguards, even if the request isn’t about the “law” or what my rights are. When I’m in the proximity of a police incident, I cooperate with the police. There wasn’t a “confrontation” except until the photographer showed disrespect.

  • Munnjo

    Did you even watch the video?  It started with the police officer charging toward the photographer screaming ‘Go Away!’, and threatening to arrest him.  The photographer showed no disrespect whatsoever.  In fact he responds to the initial yelling by saying “Where should I go Sergeant?”  Not only was his tone respectful, but he was asking a legitimate question and even had the respect to use the officer’s rank.  This will be my last response since you clearly have a twisted sense of civil rights.  How was the photographer, by filming the event about 50ft away, affecting the ‘investigation’ in any way?  As others pointed out, the officer had no problem with the other onlookers – just the one with the camera.  It’s all about the officers being accountable for their actions.  There is a huge difference between a lifeguard telling you not to run on the side of the pool, and a law enforcement officer intimidating someone and threatening to arrest them for breaking NO laws whatsoever.  You do not have the right to run by the pool – you agree to the pool’s rules by entering and using the facility.  You DO have the right to film and photograph on public property and no one, including the police, has the right to take that away.  We are incredibly lucky to live in a society that provides us with such liberties and it is tremendously important to stand up for them.  The simple fact that the ‘charges’ were dropped and the officer had to attend a “media relations training” session shows that the officer was in the wrong here.  This has nothing to do with the photographer disrespecting the officer, but everything to do with the officer disrespecting the law he has sworn to enforce.  

    I’m going to end this ridiculous argument with a quote that has been reworded a million times but hopefully you’ll get the general idea:

    “Those who would sacrifice a little liberty for security deserve neither and will loose both.” – Benjamin Franklin 

    All the best,

    – Munnjo

  • bloodhound

    I can’t say how many times this has happened to me.  I would not have moved in the first place.  Note to police you have to follow the law not your morals of what you think is right.

  • bloodhound

    I can’t say how many times this has happened to me.  I would not have moved in the first place.  Note to police you have to follow the law not your morals of what you think is right.

  • bloodhound

    I can’t say how many times this has happened to me.  I would not have moved in the first place.  Note to police you have to follow the law not your morals of what you think is right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Marsh/674033156 Jim Marsh

     It is this kind of thinking that allows the phenomenon of semi educated ‘law enforcement officers’, believing that they are the law. Timid compliance with overbearing and bullying guardians of the law, will be responsible for more laws instead of less. Exposure of ignorant brutes is the way to more fairness in society not less.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Marsh/674033156 Jim Marsh

     It is this kind of thinking that allows the phenomenon of semi educated ‘law enforcement officers’, believing that they are the law. Timid compliance with overbearing and bullying guardians of the law, will be responsible for more laws instead of less. Exposure of ignorant brutes is the way to more fairness in society not less.

  • Demarcus Robinson

    Those were bad comparisons. The fact is the photographer wasn’t actually interfering with the investigation, it’s that a large number of police get uncomfortable with being filmed for 2 reasons. 1. They don’t understand when they’re allowed to be filmed & 2. Some of them don’t like it because it highlights their behavior. It’s alright if the photographer is perhaps too close to a scene, in which case it’s alright for an officer to ask them to back up, but to just say leave, go completely away without reason, or the actual right to is not good. Luckily people like this keep filming, this is how bad policing gets uncovered & sometimes it’s to the benefit of police officers if suspects or witnesses make false claims.

  • Demarcus Robinson

    Those were bad comparisons. The fact is the photographer wasn’t actually interfering with the investigation, it’s that a large number of police get uncomfortable with being filmed for 2 reasons. 1. They don’t understand when they’re allowed to be filmed & 2. Some of them don’t like it because it highlights their behavior. It’s alright if the photographer is perhaps too close to a scene, in which case it’s alright for an officer to ask them to back up, but to just say leave, go completely away without reason, or the actual right to is not good. Luckily people like this keep filming, this is how bad policing gets uncovered & sometimes it’s to the benefit of police officers if suspects or witnesses make false claims.

  • http://twitter.com/Myrddon Henning Nilsen

    He was doing his job. He is a photojournalist. If they didn’t want the press anyway near then they should have sealed off the area. They didn’t.

  • http://twitter.com/roblarosa Rob LaRosa

    Sheep like you are the reason our rights are being slowly stripped away. It’s called freedom of the press – the cameraman had every right to be there and the fact that the charges will probably dropped and training given to officers shows that the cop was wrong. 30 years on the job and he has no idea what’s going on.

  • Mark

    Whoops…inadvertently clicked “like” on one of Paul’s posts by mistake. Since I can’t “unlike” it I thought I’d leave a comment saying it was a mistake.