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Videotaped confrontation between LAPD officer, photographer prompts probe

Los Angeles police have opened an investigation into a confrontation between a photographer and a Hollywood Division officer after video of the incident was posted this week on YouTube, sources familiar with the case said.

The sources told The Times that the investigation is unrelated to another internal affairs probe launched this week in connection with a clash between four Hollywood officers and bicyclists, also caught on video. They said the department opened an investigation Wednesday after being informed about the video. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

The footage was taken Feb. 21 and posted Tuesday on YouTube. It lasts over five minutes.

It opens with two LAPD officers conducting a traffic stop. At first, the exchange is cordial. An officer asks if everything is OK. The officer also asks if the man shooting the video knows the woman being stopped. The photographer says he does not know the woman and continues to shoot video.

The officer tells the photographer that he is making him nervous and asks him to "move along." The photographer tells the officer that the sidewalk is open to the public and that it's not against the law to shoot video. When the photographer continues to say he can take video on a public street, the officer begins to get angry and tells him he can't take a picture of him.

"I am a citizen of this country," the officer says. "I was in the Marine Corps a few years getting shot for you, you can move along. ... Start moving." The photographer asks for the officer's badge number. The officer tells him to "go ahead, saying he spent "two years in the desert, and I have to hear from your fruitcake ass."

The officer tells the man he is making a legal stop and asks the photographer for his identification and that the grounds for the stop is "taking a picture of me." The officer then tells the photographer, who is being detained and appears to be seated on the sidewalk, that he has a record of parking violations, which the man says he had paid.

They continue to argue about the law, the officer telling the man that he does not have a right to take a picture and the man saying it's not against the law to take photographs. He asks for the officer's card, and a short time later, the video ends.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Comments () | Archives (77)

Welcome to Fascist America, where the police can make up laws as they go.

In public there is absolutely no expectation of privacy, so the officer is completely wrong. Our attorneys are even aware not to talk to their clients just outside a courtroom, because that is also a public area. That is why the city can install cameras to take pictures of speeders and why businesses can monitor their outside property even if the camera catches other areas. The boy could have taken pictures of the officer and the woman in the car all day long and it would not have been illegal.

The officer was obviously over-agitated even if there was a law being broken. He needs to loose his job before he crosses some other line and hurts someone.

The next step, of course, is to make it illegal to record (video or audio) police in public. This is already underway: http://goo.gl/7Mpf

I had a similar experience on April 24, 2010, while taking still photos of an incident at Out of the Closet thrift store in Atwater Village. Two gentlemen had begun an argument in the store, and store employees called police. While an officer talked with one of the men, I stood in the street taking photos. When the officer noticed me, he insisted that I stop. I assumed his request was illegal, but my schedule that day did not allow for a trip to the police station, so I walked away.

If LAPD wants to investigate, here is the last photo I took:
At the very least, officers need to be reminded that freedom of the press has not been repealed. As a photographer who frequently posts my work online, I think I still have those rights.

Why does the Los Angeles police department hire officers that have obvious mental and anger issues.
Is it the citizens fault that he went to Iraq, do we owe him something?
Can the Los Angeles police create their own laws on the streets?
This police officer scares me and I feel he has probably already caused a lot of innocent people problems with such an attitude.
If the LAPD have a brain which they obviously don't, they would get this police officer off the streets before he cause a law suit which the taxpayers will end up paying for.
This officer is not mentally fit to be policing the public of Hollywood, CA.
This police officer is more dangerous than any gang memeber in Los Angeles, he is a thug with a gun and the courts on his side.
What can get scarier than that!

This young LAPD officer needs some supervision and counseling as he is way off base! A police officer today should conduct him/her self as if they are being watched every second they are on duty by a citizen with a video camera. We all know why. Honorable service in Iraq is commendable but not relevant. These kind of confrontations undermine the public's confidence in the police in general.

The LAPD is seriously corrupt and has been for decades. The police frequently act like the Gestapo on the streets of LA, especially if you try to assert your rights.

The problem with the Times, and with the City, is that they refuse to believe the way cops in the street behave unless someone videotapes them. Then they all say "bad apple" or "abberation." Nope. This is your LAPD. Always has been out of control, always will be.

"A short time later the video ends". Oh really? More like "a short time later the photographer is struck numerous times by Big Desert Rat as the camera goes crashing to the ground with other officers joining in the fun." Did the reporter see the video? You'd think officers would have learned by now that there are cameras everywhere these days. The days of the "no strings attached" beat-downs are a thing of the past. A good cop can keep his cool no matter how aggravating the public can be. Calling civilians "fruitcakes", especially in Hollywood shows very bad judgment on the part of this officer. I guess a couple thousand dollars worth of sensitivity training is in order.

The officer is right, the man does not have the right to take photograpsh but only to the extent that his taking of photographs "delays or obstructs...[the] peace office... in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office." (See California Penal Code Section 148.)

Brainwashed,incentive,above the law,x-marine, killer COP,the worst kind,I
came from a family of marines,You are wrong no matter what.That's why
the police Dept. recruit's them out of the brainwashed marines, trained killers.
This is why their is no communication with the general public.They just do not know how to ajust.And think they know it all,because they fought in a war,Get over it cop,stop trying to save the world.
B. A. on L .A. B.SSSSSS>

I think the officer was more than patient with this person. Why would you insist on aggravating an officer? I commend him for being as patient as he was. I'm not a cop, but I think the guy should have been arrested for harassment of an officer. These guys work their tails off to protect us and this is the thanks we give them?

Sounds like this cop has an attiude problem. He's probably a time bomb just waiting to go off.

hmm...on the one hand i would be annoyed if someone took a picture of me and it possibly ended up on the internet and i was defamed. on the other hand, most of the time it's harmless. i think it's for the photographer to show common decency to stop taking pictures when asked, but law enforcement officers have to realize that as public servants they are subject to stricture scrutiny by the press and the people (including amateur photogs). they are not above the law but should be the best examples of it for the rest of us. otherwise we wouldnt have had the rodney king video, or the recent video with the officer kicking the guy's bike and knocking him off. there are abuses by police offices.

The creep was taking a video photo of the officer. Everyone, including that officer, has a right to tell people to NOT take photos of them. That is why Google is getting in trouble. The camera toting young creep with the "legal" lip is a trouble maker.

There has been a series of such incidents around the country where police officers have arrested persons for videotaping incidents on public streets.
In these incidents, officers frequently say that the photographers or videographers are interfering with the performance of their duties. While it is true that police and emergency personnel have wide latitude to exclude the public from crime scenes and locations where accidents and other risks exist, these arrests fall far outside that scope.
The photographer or videographer is no different from any other person on the street who sees a police stop and the police cannot tell passers by that they have to close their eyes or turn away.
As I tell students in my media law class, the public street and sidewalk are public and that people have a right to observe and take video as long as they are not interfering with police or emergency personnel.

I think this is a case of a police officer being goaded by someone with a camera. The photographer was somewhat combative and at the same time the officer became angry and decided to push his weight around because of the lack of respect he felt he was being given by this stranger with a camera. True the photographer was on a public sidewalk and should have been able to film what was going on. I have mixed feelings about their encounter but in the end the officer should not have been able to force the photographer to shut off his camera.

First security guards, now actual police officers spreading this ridiculous untruth that it is illegal to take someone's picture if they don't want you to do so. Then how come every paparazzi isn't in jail?

Of course the officer was nervous. The prospect of someone scrutinizing your work means you no longer have carte blanche to do as you please, even if you're wearing a badge and carrying a gun.

Because anarchy would be the worst of all possible worlds, I'd hate to live in a society without cops. But this is a false choice. Police have to behave by the rules just as the rest of us do, and must allow others to oversee their transactions with the public.

Infringement of the driver's right to privacy? This would perhaps depend on what the photographer does with the video and what his apparent motive is, but prior restraint is clearly not allowable. And if his motive is to show inappropriate behavior of a public official, this would be a legitimate use by the standards of any reasonable judge or jury.

This video is just so useful for the general public to understand that certain people should not be hired as police officers.

The officer in the video literally goes off the deep end over being videotaped, so you can just imagine what he would do under real pressure such as the
aftermath of a gun fight in which he was involved.

He would no doubt plant evidence and lie to protect himself.

The man should be fired.

By the way, it is totally lawful to videotape the L.A.P.D. from a public sidewalk so long as the videographer is not interfering with the officer's job. The videographer in this incident was not interfering with the police and particularly if the only event was a traffic citation.

The photographer lacks civility. The Police Officer had every right to ask not to have his photo taken,repeatedly. The photog behaved like an ass, pushing the issue to a ridiculous and juvenile level.

The Police have a hard enough job without some yokel taking time away from the officer doing his job. He didn't want his photo taken - move along. But NOOO - photog had to be an idiot, act like a kid, claiming rights and laws. What happen to common decency and respect? The photog lacks all.

If this guy had repeatedly ignored my requests, I would have been upset too. Wouldn't you?

This is a pervasive misconception among police that has sadly gotten worse since 9/11 - the idea that they can control photographers in public places. Civilians also mistakenly believe that they have the right to prevent people from photographing them in public. All of us have very limited rights to privacy in public places. Most people don't realize that they're being photographed about half of the time they're out in public. Start looking around carefully and you'll see the cameras everywhere.

LAPD officers in particular should behave as if they're always being recorded - it would save them a lot of the trouble they get themselves into. And this particular pot calling the kettle with the camera a fruitcake is rich, very rich.

Sounds typical

The LAPD is comprised of people who weren't smart enough to get into college, not tough enough to be a gang banger and not suave enough to get any romantic action on their own. They pass a test that a 10 year old can pass and swing on a few ropes they get a badge. The badge is their way of getting respect, dates and the right to do whatever they want to anyone they want. And the Police Chief? Well, he is too busy making stupid bets with an equally lazy Police Chief over a stupid basketball game. Yes, the same game where the Mayor of a financially troubled city (Tony Villar) gets to sit courtside while we pay for his $3000 suits. LA...What a Town!

That man had as much right as the department does to film people unaware. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. I laugh my as s off when I hear about all these rogue cops getting caught on film and sometimes their own film. Well ..the cameras are there to catch criminals or criminal activies. Too bad the cops are doing criminal activities and being caught with their own devices. Kind of ironic I think....but I love it.


Why not let the cops do their jobs in peace? The video guy was looking to get an officer riled up just so that he can make fun of him on You Tube. That is so sad.

He was detained, and not arrested, there is a big difference. The videographer asked to see the officer's supervisor, the officer called/radioed for the supervisor, then the no longer detained man says forget it. What is the big issue? No one as beaten and no one was even handcuffed, other than the officer's language/attitude, I see no reason why this is making the news.

Oh wait, this is the Los Angeles Times, and they despise the Los Angeles Police Department. That's why this is news.

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