An NYPD police officer has a lot of answers he needs to provide after his maltreatment of a citizen who was filming police activity in a public place. Shawn Randall Thomas was filming a police officer’s handling of a docile turnstile jumper when the New York photographer was accosted by another officer present.
As Thomas filmed the incident, Officer Efrain Rojas (shield number 23404) sauntered onto the scene. As he was checking the turnstile jumper’s identification, Rojas noticed that Thomas was filming the public officials’ actions in public–so he did what is becoming all-too-familiar in our society: He arrested the man, deleted his video, and stole his phone battery.
Dissatisfied with Thomas’ filming Officer Rojas leaped to the rescue, approaching Thomas and shoving his own camera in front of the photographer’s. Rojas stayed pressed up against the man, shoving his iPhone in Thomas’ camera lens. When Thomas informs the officer “You’re invading my personal space,” Rojas responded, “You’re violating my personal space, too.” Rojas repeatedly refused to state his name and badge number when asked, and continued to bully the photographer.
The photographer attempted to stand up for himself in the face of police intimidation, telling Rojas “back the fuck off.” Rojas informed the man that “this is my station” and ordered him to leave the public area, despite that he had not committed a crime. According to an account on PINAC, Rojas twisted his victim’s arm behind his back, deleted the footage, and removed the batteries.
Thomas attempted to use his blackberry to further document the incident. “He then knocked the phone out of my hand and slams me to the ground,” Thomas said. “Then he grabbed the back of my head and slammed it into the pavement.”
Thomas yelled for bystanders to record, giving his name to those nearby. At least one did, and had contacted him on Facebook by the time he was out of jail. Thomas used a free program to retrieve the deleted file, as well, and uploaded it to YouTube.
Thomas was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, trespassing, and obstructing a governmental administration.
Despite that it is nearly impossible to trespass on public property, Rojas claims in the arrest report that he noticed Thomas “in very close proximity (around 30 feet, in reality)” to him. Rojas further claims that he asked Thomas repeatedly to step back, and he refused to do so. Naturally, there is no mention of the confiscation of the camera battery or file deletion.
Since Rojas’ report is heavily contradicted by the video of what actually happened, naturally he has filed a privacy complaint with YouTube, asking that the video be removed.
The NYPD patrol guide states:
[box type=”shadow”]Members of the service will not interfere with the videotaping or the photographing of incidents in public places. Intentional interference such as blocking or obstructing cameras or harassing the photographer constitutes censorship.”[/box]
Rojas works out of Transit Bureau District 32. The phone number is (718) 221-6600. Deputy Inspector Michael A. Davidson, heads the bureau.
h/t: Raw Story