Police in Petersburg, Virginia are camera shy, they don’t want citizens to make video recordings of their arrests and are willing to go to any lengths to discourage and prevent such recordings.
JaQuan Fisher, 17 says that he was recording from his front porch as officers from the Petersburg Police Department handcuffed several suspects from the house next door, when an officer noticed him he left the street and climbed the steps onto the porch asking Fisher, “You want me to take your phone?”
Fisher says that he put the phone in his pocket and that the officer attempted to take it out of his pocket shoving him in the process, Fisher said, “I shoved him back.”
At some point Fisher’s mother, Debra Fisher and another officer became involved in the struggle on the porch during which the Fishers say one of the officers began to spray mace around indiscriminately, even macing his fellow officer.
Eventually a third officer entered the fray coming up in front of the porch behind Debra Fisher and placing her in a choke hold as he attempted to drag her backward over the railing.
In the other incident,19 year-old Devin Thomas was arrested after police who observed him recording their traffic stop on the street approached him, again as they did with the Fishers, initiating a confrontation and struggle.
Defense attorney Steven Benjamin was shown the video recordings of these two incidents by an investigative reporter for WWBT-TV:
“When you start having a pattern of encounters like this, regardless of who’s right or wrong, just the pattern and the questions that are raised erodes the public confidence in the police and public trust in the police. Let’s be real clear. You have the absolute right to stand on your front porch and record what’s going on in your front yard,” Benjamin said. “Because an officer decided to prohibit what was the video recording being made on the porch, you then had the police creating a separate encounter that very quickly got out of control, putting the other officers at risk.”
Watch the report from WWBT below.
h/t: Raw Story