San Diego police slapped a cell phone camera out of a man’s hands Saturday, claiming it could be a weapon, before pouncing on him and handcuffing him, lacerating his chin in the process.
Adam Pringle ended up jailed overnight on charges of obstruction because he refused to hand the phone over when the cop ordered him to do so.
But it’s already been established by numerous court cases as well as the U.S. Department of Justice that police do not have the right to take your camera unless it is being used in a commission of a crime.
In this case, Pringle’s only crime was smoking a cigarette on a Mission Beach boardwalk, a violation for which he was already getting cited.
“It is against the law to smoke cigarettes on the boardwalk, so I admit I was breaking the law,” Pringle said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Tuesday.
The incident took place at 7 p.m. Saturday evening as Pringle and two buddies were walking on the boardwalk and came across two cops on bicycles who stopped them and started writing Pringle a citation.
Pringle pulled out his Samsung Galaxy smartphone and began recording, which as you can see below, can easily be confused for a weapon – if you find yourself starring in a futuristic science fiction drama.
It all seemed pretty civil until the cop writing the citation told him to stop recording, which Pringle refused to do.
“Phones can be converted into weapons …. look it up online,” the cop told him.
Last month, a South Florida cop confiscated a man’s phone citing the same reason, so maybe this is a new trend.
When Pringle tried to talk sense into the cop, the cop slapped the phone out of his hand where it fell onto the boardwalk and broke apart.
The other cop then pounced on him, slamming him down on the boardwalk where he ended up with a laceration on his chin.
“Blood was everywhere,” Pringle said. “I was laying on my stomach and he had one knee on my back and the other knee on the side of my face.
“They kept telling me ‘to calm down,’ that ‘you’re making this worse for yourself,’ that ‘you have no right to record us.’”
They hauled him up and marched him to the patrol car, telling his two friends that they would be arrested if they chose to follow.
His friends picked up his phone, which was damaged but not to the point where it was unsable, which is why the video survived.
Once out of sight, the officer who tackled him elbowed him to the face.
Because he had several wounds on his body, including his knees, hands and face, an ambulance was called.
An internal affairs officer, Lt. Misty Cedrun, was also called, who spoke to him in the back of the ambulance, but who didn’t seem to think the officers did anything wrong because she allowed the two officers to transport him to jail, even though he told her he fear them.
Unfortunately, Pringle was not provided with their names and it’s difficult to make out the cop’s nametag in the video.
He wasn’t released from jail until 4 a.m. His first hearing will be on May 23 where he hopes to have obtained an attorney. He said he has reached out to the ACLU but hasn’t heard back.
However, this incident is still very fresh and this is a case that is ripe for them.
Pringle said he is an Eagle Scout who is actively involved in his community. He doesn’t mean to be a troublemaker but he is just not afraid to stand up for his rights.
And that obviously makes him a criminal in the eyes of the law.
But because the video survived the assault, we are able to see whom the real criminals are in this matter.