Skip to comments.Do police have the right to confiscate your camera?
Posted on 01/26/2009 7:36:02 AM PST by BGHater
Seconds after BART police officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant, police immediately began confiscating cell phones containing videos that have yet to see the light of day.
In fact, the only videos that have been seen by the public were filmed by people who managed to leave the scene before police confronted them.
In one instance, police chased after Karina Vargas after she stepped on the train, banging on the window after the doors closed and demanding her to turn over the camera. The train sped away with Vargas still holding her camera.
Her video, which did not show the actual shooting but captured the turmoil before and after, was one of the first to pop up on the internet. And soon after more videos popped up showing the actual shooting.
In the most vivid video, the train doors can be seen closing seconds after the shooting as the train speeds away.
But the truth is, police had no legal right to confiscate a single camera.
Cops may be entitled to ask for peoples names and addresses and may even go as far as subpoenaing the video tape, but as far as confiscating the camera on the spot, no, said Marc Randazza, A First Amendment attorney based out of Florida and a Photography is Not a Crime reader.
Bert P. Krages II, the Oregon attorney who drafted the widely distributed The Photographers Rights guide, responded to my inquiry with the following e-mail message:
In general, police cannot confiscate cameras or media without some sort of court order. One exception is when a camera is actually being used in the commission of crime (e.g., child pornography, counterfeiting, upskirting).
It didnt appear that the BART videos were being used in a commission of a crime, so what could people have done to prevent police from illegally confiscating their cameras?
Probably not a whole lot, said Randazza. You dont want to get into a situation where you are refusing to comply with law enforcement, especially when that law enforcement officer just shot and killed somebody. No camera is worth losing your life over.
But what can you do if youre as stubborn as me and have a tendency to refuse unlawful orders?
Make sure you have an attorney that specializes in First Amendment law, he said during Mondays phone interview. Make sure you have his cell phone and home number. Sometimes calling an attorney on the spot can be helpful.
Needless to say, I now have Randazzas cell phone number programed into my cell phone.
How stupid are people? If a cop demanded my camera I’d ask him if I were under arrest and what the charge was. If I’m not being taken into custody, he’s not getting my camera.
“How stupid are people”?
...stupid enough to vote BO for POTUS. Skies the limit on stupidity at this point.
I say no.
What is the police going to do if I refuse to turn over my camera ? Grapple with me ? Shoot me ?
I think they have a right to get your name and address, but to take your personal property is a no, no.
I do not see how they have that right...but welcome to Barry’s America.
I can understand that it may contain evidence but it isn’t directly connected to the crime and should have to be subpoenaed.
We are getting there. The box is getting more corrupt and what rights we have smaller and smaller. When are we going to take some of the power back. Never.
You said — “How stupid are people? If a cop demanded my camera Id ask him if I were under arrest and what the charge was. If Im not being taken into custody, hes not getting my camera.”
Yeah, and I really understand that and go along with it. At the same time, I can see someone getting arrested, charged with interfering with an investigation, refusing lawful orders, and charged with disorderly conduct and also possibly assaulting a police officer — and ending up in jail with a list of charges to defend against, along with bail to raise and a whole new set of problems one never thought they would have a few minutes prior to that event...
That’s what can happen...
So, one should think through the steps they would go through (ahead of time) if things start deteriorating down to that level...
Couldn't resist answering this. Maybe the crime was the illegal shooting. And cover up? Well, Government seems to be one big cover up of everything they do. What's happening? And all this talk transparency! Bull Sh@@. Same thing.
Seeing in this case that they just filmed a police officer shooting an unarmed, bound man in the back...I might be a bit concerned for my own safety if I were the videographer.
This guy just shot an unarmed man...by accident maybe...he brings out the taser or maybe shoots you by accident too.
Rape of Liberty ping
Seems to me that the police would get a better response if they simply got a copy of what was filmed. That way the state has their evidence and the people have theirs.
“Officer, I don’t have a camera.”
In a greatly lesser type of incident, I was approached by security personnel at a church in Dallas (same church Billy Graham is a member of..., or, at least, the last I heard, anyway...) where I was taking pictures one Sunday morning. I was outside on the sidewalk talking pictures of one part of their historic building, going back quite a ways. I was told that I couldn’t do that. I would have to get permission to do so. Well, I knew that was ridiculous, since I was on a public sidewalk and street taking the pictures. But, since I was in Dallas and it was my dad’s church that we were attending, I just quit taking the pictures at that moment. I also resumed taking pictures on a different day and more quickly.... :-)
The article said — “Needless to say, I now have Randazzas cell phone number programed into my cell phone.”
It would seem that one needs to have a “lawyer on call” for so many things in life, these days...
Possibly but more likely you will end up arrested for interferring. Best hope here would seem to be a bunch of lawsuits with much publicity. In a tense situation, however comply with the cops, they had already shot one person they shouldn't have shot.
I am normally a police supporter but they aren't always right and will protect a fellow officer. Also, over time they get a really sour view of all humanity by the nature of their work.
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