In the most recent installment of police officer vs. photographer, a UK man who began taking pictures near the scene of a car accident was approached by an irate officer who yelled and cursed at him, confiscated his camera and threatened to arrest him and make his life a “living hell.”
The incident took place on November 17th in Gloucester, UK, and has been brought to the public’s attention because the man in question secretly recorded much of the altercation and uploaded the resulting video to YouTube.
The officer had been in the final stages of cleaning up what had been a fatal car accident on a road in Churchdown — note: there were no injured persons on the scene, nor did the photographer photograph anything he would describe as ‘insensitive’ — when he noticed the man taking pictures and began berating him.
By the time the video starts, the police officer has calmed down somewhat, however he still confiscates the man’s camera and refuses to give it back unless he erases all of the photographs he has taken. He proceeds to claim that the entire closed road is his crime scene (even though there were many pedestrians walking much closer to the scene than the photographer and there was no caution tape) and therefore not public land, and that if he was a member of the press he still would have had to come up to him, prove his press affiliation and ask permission.
When the man continues to argue the officer claims that he’s ‘lucky’ he didn’t get knocked out, after which he threatens to arrest the man and make his life ‘a living hell.’
Now that the incident has received sufficient media attention, the police officer is currently under investigation. Obviously this is only one side of the story, and it’s possible that the photographer was indeed in the wrong and standing somewhere he shouldn’t, but officer still (at the very least) acted in an unprofessional manner.
“I have only seen the public facing evidence, but it appears the officer swore at a member of the public, follows that up by saying he was lucky not to have been assaulted by the police, is threatened with arrest, mistreatment and a remand in custody,” county police and crime commissioner Martin Surl told the BBC. “I appreciate the work of the police can be very challenging, but no matter what the situation they should deal with the public in a civil and responsible manner at all times.”
Additionally, the The National Union of Journalists has also immediately come out in support of the photographer, saying the man was doing nothing wrong and that it is “not the job of police officers to go around threatening members of the public whom they are supposed to protect.”
A spokesman tells the BBC that the officer in question is still currently serving on front-line duty, although the misconduct investigation that is underway might soon change that.
What’s your take? Was the photographer in the wrong here, or is this another case of a police officer not understanding photographer’s rights? Let us know in the comments down below.