Videotape is used in all sorts of police investigations. In fact, business owners (like bar owners) are encouraged to install video cameras in order to capture activity in case there is a crime. But what's interesting is that the police don't like the cameras - video or otherwise - pointed at them and seem to get upset when they see them. WCBS 2 did a report this dynamic. You can watch the video here, but here's an excerpt:
For example, on Aug. 25 Critical Mass bicycle protestors pedaled up Third Avenue near 40th Street. Police stopped the protestors, including Jacob Redding, who had a video camera. Twenty five seconds after one officer stopped him and held his arm, Redding said a second officer came from behind and knocked the camera out of his hand onto the ground, breaking it.
Redding said in the days after he was hit he photographed bruises on his arm. In a complaint to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, he identified the officer who hit him -- Lt. Daniel Albano, a lawyer in the police legal department.
“Officers not wanting us to videotape is kinda scary, because there is nothing to hold them accountable afterwards,” Redding said.
Another Critical Mass bicycle protestor with a camera that night was Sarah Phillips. Police told her to stop videotaping Redding receiving a summons.
“I felt I particularly had a right to videotape after my friend had been assaulted,” Phillips said.
WCBS 2's Ti-Hua Chang spoke to a law professor Sadiz Reza who said that if a police officer is giving you a summons, the officer has the right to make you stop what you're doing. But in this case, Phillips wasn't involved or interfering, so she had a right to film the incident. Reza added, "Knocking a video tape out of someone’s hand, a video camera, would presumably be unreasonable use of force or unlawful excessive use of force and might also raise criminal liability for the officer."
I-Witness Video has been tracking these incidents where police are trying to clamp down on videotaping their actions. And on a Critical Mass note, earlier this week onNYturf looked at the NYPD's new public gathering rules, which might be revised but they are still loony.