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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)

Saw the footage on youtube the guy with the camera is provoking the officer and that can be clearly seen. There is no video of the cameraman why didn't he have his photo in the video?

I am so tired of this PC BS, let the cop do his job and hand out a ticket, if the camera guy took some photos of a few gangbangers and they beat the hell outta him, i beat he would put his tail between his legs and run to the cop he was badgering.

So it is permissiable for a camera man to interfere with any kind of police actions? What if the officer was stopping a person who suddenly pulled out a knife or a gun but was too distracted by a camera man to notice in time? Shitbags like these abuse their freedom, testing the limits, and are no worse than steroid users saying they broke no law. Actually, they're worse because they can be endangering lives.

I'm getting so sick and tired of hearing former soldiers "brag" (more like whine) about their military experience -- as if that gives them any more rights or privileges over other U.S. citizens. This cop was way out of line and needs to get his anger management and authoritarian issues under control.

It's called 148 pc. Obstructing or delaying a police investigation. The officer had every right to tell the nosy photographer to move along

In the case relating to the photographer and the Police Officer, The photographer was clearly obstructing justice and should have been arrested. I believe the officer was being kind by not arresting that person. Besides, It's hard making a judgment call on any incident one was not present at.

At any rate, " arrest the donkey next time".

the "cyclists" often are trouble makers with nothing to lose and they block the entire wilshire blvd. they act like street gangs and taunt motorists and create havoc. this is what sets these things off. they are not victims but trouble makers. basically they assualt motorist if you have your window down and use bully tactics. this is the other point of view that is never represnted. people should put videos of this up too.

la at its finest

The photographer was an idiot, he was looking for attention. He was interfering with the situation and was asked a dozen times to move along . It's sad if Beck doesn't come to this officer's side. The police need to be supported by our community. They have enough to worry about and don't need to be hassled every time they take the streets. Absolutely pathetic that this is news worthy.

Why provoke anyone especially a cop? What purpose did this photographer serve? He's wasting tax money and time that could be spent on something important.

This brief didn't mention the photog by name, but Shawn Nee (www.discarted.wordpress.com) is an excellent street photographer who is passionate in his defense of photographers' rights and has videotaped a number of his interactions with those in law enforcement. While I do think he does seem to come off a bit antagonistic at times, the fact remains we have a right to stand on public property and take photos of whatever we want. I am tired of people with badges (from security guards to cops) who are insistent on misinterpreting the law, or simply making up "the law" on the spot. However you feel about Nee's methods, keep in mind this is a matter of your rights as an American citizen.

I've encountered many officers like this one, they have little knowledge of the law or purposely decide to ignore it. I wonder what kind of training they are getting at the academy.

Cops are just like everyone else, so why would anyone be surprised that they abuse their powers!!

Your headline link calls this a "clash?" That's pot-stirring sensationalism. A verbal joust maybe; certainly not a clash.

Why are police officers so against being video taped while they are doing their jobs? If they are acting in a professional manner consistent with the ethos they claim to uphold, then they have nothing to fear. Doesn't the government tell us, "If you don't have anything to hide, you don't have anything to worry about." while they're busy wiretapping our communications and snooping on our emails? It's funny how the tune changes when the shoe is on the other foot.

It sickens me to read comments from people who obviously can't see through the hypocracy, or if they can, they apparently don't care about the double standards.

The photographer may have been within his legal rights, but could have shoot his footage from a distance. Getting in "ones face" is not a wise choice to make while the officer is performing his job. Suppose the woman is an armed felon next time the traffic stop is made, and it becomes a violent confrontation.
While everyone has a cell phone with a built in camera (almost or a lot) these days, it may be better for all concerned if we show respect for each other and let the officer focus on their job. We should not contribute to something that might make a dangerous situation worse.

See, there are ACTUALLY American citizens who 1.) Believe it's a matter of opinion as to whether the photographer could have/should have been arrested, and 2.) Who believe he should have been arrested. Just incredible the ignorance in this country ABOUT this country, and let me just guess where the "they're taking our freedoms! tea baggers are on this.

The officer had the right to be uncomfortable with the photographer behind him during a stop, and to ask him to move. After that, the photographer never ignored a lawful order, and I thought he was restrained as the officer invented laws and rights that do not exist, this to steamroll over rights and laws that DO exist.

Anyone can take a picture of anyone in a public place, even if the subject really, really, really hates it, and even if the subject is a cop. It's the law. Deal with it. Know what-the law doesn't even require folks be polite to police officers (though I try to be as polite to them as they are to me). NOBODY in the us "has it coming to them" unless they break the law, and then they ONLY "have coming" what the law says they have, not an extra slap, a shove, a trip or ratcheted handcuffs.

Now, can the photographer sell the picture for an advertisement without the subject's permission? No? There are many possible uses of the photo over which the subject has control and some rights. But this ain't one of 'em, and whether he TAKES it isn't up to the subject.

I'd like to know if the cop is stupid and doesn't know the law, or if he knowingly lied, and thought doing so "in a command voice" meant he had special rights, or could get away with it.

And for those who think the cop had ANY grounds for his picture-related gripes, THAT is the sort of garbage that helps authorities whittle away at rights guaranteed by the Constitution - not the fact that a politician you don't like won an election.

Apparently Chief Beck hasn't informed his gestapo troopers that it is legal to take pictures of ANYONE as long as they are in public. If the police think that they are a special class of people that can not be photographed, then we need new police.
There are closed circuit cameras everywhere in our cites and they photograph everyone, police included!

You would think that after the Rodney King incident, police would assume that everything they do will be filmed!

I watched the LAPD taking vidoe during a demonstration on Gayley ave near UCLA. I find it it interesting that they seem to find it ok taking video of peaceful demonstrators but when the tables are turned they don't like the idea. What a bunch of hypocrites these thugs are. Just another adolescent thug officer looking for a reason to rough someone up. When will the city ever learn that the LAPD attracts the wrong element to their organization. Just overgrown teenagers wanting to exert their authority. This is the typical LAPD officer. If they didn't have such a bad reputation this guy wouldn't have to videotape them. Why don't they spend more time looking for illegal immigrants (one on every corner) instead of harassing citizens.

If the officer isn't doing anything improper, what's the problem? Police officers always act like they're above the law and answer to no one. A little accountability is ok by me. Photographer may have been a pain to the officer, but he wasn't doing anything wrong.

It is absolutely the right of the photographer to video anything in public, including the actions of the police if the photographer is not physically obstructing policework. This one of the few ways that we can halt police misconduct. If the officer is not behaving badly, he has nothing to worry about.

Its easy to act like you know how to do a cop's job, try being in their shoes. Guys like the photographer are always trying to provoke police officers into doing something they can catch on film. Should have arrested the guy.

The photographer wanted trouble, he got trouble.

Re: Bill
This article has nothing to do with cyclists

LAPD officers are routinely photographed by the media and bystanders alike. As a member of the media, I constantly see LAPD officers put up with this kind of behavior, and I commend them for it. As obnoxious as this photographer was, the police officer overreacted. There is no law against photographing a police officer, and LAPD officers are more accustomed to this than any other police force. I dont think this warrants any punishment to the officer, but the cop should have done what every other LAPD officer usually does - ignore him.

I am a photographer myself and I was recently at Venice Beach for a Festival and as usual, there were cops everywhere. I was tempted to take some photos of them in action doing what they do. But I was hesitant about it because I didn't know if it was legal or not. I was later notified that as long as they are in public I can take their photo all I want. That cop in the video should have kindly asked the man to not take his photo and when the man didn't stop, he should have just ignored him. No harm, no foul. He is a cop, what does he expect. And it's typical for him to not want to give out his badge number because that guy probably would have or did complain to his supervisor.

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