A woman in East Los Angeles had the opportunity to witness first-hand what an angry United States Marshal will do when he is being filmed during a law enforcement activity.
Standing on a residential sidewalk, the woman used her camera to film a group of U.S. Marshals, in what looked like preparations to enter a home that was suspected to be a location where biker gang activity was occurring, when one of them spotted her.
Strapped with an assault rifle, the U.S. Marshal aggressively approached the woman filming, who was still holding the camera in his direction, grabbed it from her hands and then threw it to the sidewalk, smashing it on the ground. Since that was not enough, he also kicked the broken camera toward the shocked woman.
The U.S. Marshal and his colleagues, who were staking out a house in Southgate, California, nonchalantly walked away from the scene after the incident.
The woman received absolutely no warning from the marshal or any of the cops that were on the spot to stop filming them (although legally, she has every right to do so), nor did any of the men try to stop the marshal from doing what he did.
Luckily, the marshal’s actions were well documented by another person filming the action, who was recording everything from just across the street. The entire video titled, South Gate California. South Gate/Montebello police attack Cop Watcher destroying her cell phone. 04/19/15, lasts less than one minute (54 seconds).
The citizen journalist was later revealed to be Beatriz Paez.
This isn’t the first incident this year that a cop in California forcibly seized or tried to seize someone’s camera while being filmed.
In February this year, Orange County Sheriff deputies confronted a group of teens who were parked in a car on the side of a residential road. This was an alleged gang neighborhood and the teens were, according to the deputies, acting suspiciously.
What really bothered the deputies was that one of the teens was filming the stop with his cell phone.
When they approached the car, the teen explained to them that he actually lives in the neighborhood, but that he is not a gang member. Furthermore, when the deputy told him that it was illegal to record them, the teen continued to record them. After all, it is his right to film them.
Once it was clear that the teen would not stop filming, one of the deputies ordered the driver out of the vehicle. The person recording then leaned forward to ask for the deputy’s name only for the deputy to try and snatch the cell phone from his hand, but he was fortunately too slow.
Here’s a description of this incident on YouTube:
“I was in front of my house on my own driveway when two officers walked up and started to harass my friends and I. I told the officers my rights as I was recording. I was later placed in handcuffs and harassed until I told them my rights. Know your rights!!”
Apparently, one of the teens admitted that he had some marijuana on him, but he had a marijuana medical card. In California, possessing cannabis is legal if it is for medical purposes.
Yesterday, another similar incident occurred when a Santa Barbara police officer, who was later identified as Sgt. Eric Beecher, walked up to a man filming him and a group of other cops and knocked the camera from his hands.
Sergeant Beecher claimed it was an accident, but seems suspicious, nonetheless.
What’s more, Beecher, a sergeant, is responsible for the supervision of other officers One can only wonder if he assures them of their right to do the same.
It is within your right to film all state actors without interfering with law enforcement activities. If you have been harassed for filming a police officer, and you were assaulted or your personal property was destroyed, contact our legal offices today.