Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Five Cops, one dog, citizen with vid cam- Taser Time!

cam cop not yoursThe more Tasers there are, the more unjustified tasings there will be. Have we built enough momentum to keep the Taser News pace at one per day? Portland cops have done their best to keep the streak going. From The Oregonian Monday:

Frank Waterhouse is suing for unlawful seizure with excessive force, alleging that police fired a Taser and bean bag rounds at him on May 27, 2006 because he was videotaping their search of a friend's property. Police followed their dog onto the property during a search for a fleeing suspect. The dog keyed on a car and officers broke out a window. Frank videotaped the search.

Police yelled at him to "put it (the camera) down." Officers report that (he) ran off, they chased and then bean-bagged and Tasered him. One officer wrote, "He... refused to drop the camera which could be used as a weapon." Waterhouse was arrested and accused of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. A jury acquitted him of all charges.

So, police run onto private property, smash the window of a car, discover they're being filmed, chase the cameraman down, and force him to stop filming. One unarmed guy, four or five thug cops and a dog. Nice odds! The camera wasn't being used as a weapon, but it could have been. You know, like a loaf of bread could have been. The cops responded to this huge threat with a beanbag gun and a Taser. If they have them, they'll use them.

The jury didn't agree that this guy had an NFL- class passing game and could nail a cop with a camera while running away, so the “weapon” claim is nonsense. It's just cops protecting their technological turf. One example is radar speed measurement (and jamming), another is videotape, and the cops' argument comes down to this.

We can use radar to measure your speed, but you can't try to fool our radar. We can film you, but you can't film us. We can use technology against you, but you can't use it to protect yourself.

Their reaction is predictable. Cops have enough trouble with their own dash cams catching them in acts of brutality. They like it even less when citizens hold the camera.