Man Allegedly Arrested for Taking Photos of the Police

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Well this is just horrible. NBC10.com is reporting that a Philadelphia man, Neftaly Cruz, was arrested for allegedly taking a photo of police when they were arresting a drug dealer neighbor of his.

From NBC10:

“I was humiliated. I was embarrassed, you know,” Cruz said.

Cruz, 21, told the NBC 10 Investigators that police arrested him last Wednesday for taking a picture of police activity with his cell phone.

Cruz said police told him that he broke a new law that prohibits people from taking pictures of police with cell phones.

“They threatened to charge me with conspiracy, impeding an investigation, obstruction of a investigation. … They said, ‘You were impeding this investigation.’ (I asked,) “By doing what?’ (The officer said,) ‘By taking a picture of the police officers with a camera phone,'” Cruz said.

Cruz’s parents, who got him out of jail, said police told them the same thing.”

I am unaware of any *new law* which prohibits you from taking photographs of the police. It is activity like this that is an abuse of police power and the officers responsible for Cruz’s arrest should be discliplined over this matter.

Police Officers hold a special kind of authority. Police abuse has been documented in the past and having the public with their cameras as a check and balance against police abuse should be something that as a society we protect. Would Rodney King ever have seen justice were it not for the camera of a witness? If people are fearful that they will be retaliated against when they photograph the police then we are that much worse off as a society. Those entrusted with safeguarding our society through force should have the highest ethics when it comes to dealing with the public. To arrest someone for taking a photo of an arrest is wrong.

Thanks, ~Chels~

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13 Comments

  1. jeff nolan says:

    The linked to article explicitly says that the police have denied telling Cruze that he broke the law by taking a picture with his cell phone, and considering that he was not booked into custody this would add further weight to the claim. This may be a case of an overzealous officer violating the rights of this citizen, or it may be a case of something altogether different. In either situation, it would be prudent for commentators to hold off on stoking the fire until a preliminary investigation has been conducted.

    The only facts that are certain is that there is a differing account of the incident from both Cruze and the police, and that we really don’t know what Cruze himself was doing at the time of the confrontation.

    Interestingly, the NBC10 article never asks the question is there actually a law, new or not, that prohibits taking a picture of police officers performing their duties. I thought journalists were supposed to look into things like that when reporting a story, and one would think that a local news group would know about just such a law if it even existed considering that their own employees would be breaking it in the daily work activities. This is another example of shoddy journalism, the story is written protraying Cruze as the victim without investigating the details, like talking with the officers or witnesses in the neighborhood, and then they fail to report on a key component of the story itself, whether such a law exists.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am not a cop and don’t know any, but if I were, I would be nervous about people photographing me while I work. Why?

    Organized crime has been known to stalk officers, find out what their habits are, where they live, and where their children go to school, among other things. You can see where I am going with this.

    The laws which illegalize recording working police officers may seem wrong, and my even be abused, but they do serve a legitimate purpose.

    -sam

  3. Ray says:

    This is just a small part of the “real
    problem” that is going on with our police force accross the country. The wrong type of people are joining up and using the law to do unlawful actions… I have seen this first hand when a state trooper called my work, found out that I was working out on the water and than entered my home without a warrent…sad to say that a few personal items of my girlfriend came up missing…. Than he found a bowl, which wasn’t even mine, and came back a week later to charge me with it… I went to court three times, planning on telling my true story and he would never show up… He knew that he was costing me money and that I have a social disorder… So in the end I just paid the fine. This is just a small part of the whole picture. Before I had met him, my thoughts about the state police was good… I had respect for them and there job..
    But after be totally harassed by not just one state cop it has changed…
    And the reason they started coming to my house was because of my ex girlfriends and her family which lived all around me.. They did many things to me under the protection of the police…drained my oil out of my car and than plowed me in with all the snow up and down on my side of the street… Spray painted my car… messed with my animals when I wasn’t home. Up in my yard at two in the morning with there lights off , right next to my bedroom and etc..
    It’s really sad that the police are so corrupt and dirty…
    And too the comment above me. Your right about they shouldn’t let police officers family be photographed…But your totally wrong about the rest. It is your right to photograph police doing there job because they really are working for the public… Without your catchful eyes on them…they would be getting away with things like telling a person to get up and than shotting him for no reason….just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.. plus the poor guy just got back from Iraq. Ask me the officer should have been put to death because he murdered somebody that wasn’t guilty of anything…a person the served us all. Think about all the shit the officer has done off camerea. This is just a small part of the whole picture..

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow, another one. I keep coming across these articles were people are exercising their rights under the 4th amendment and find that most commentators seem to be in favor of doing away with it. Their arguments seem to run towards, “if you aren’t doing anything wrong, why should you need to have privacy when making a phone call or walking the streets?” The first wahoo to comment here claims that the very reason we know this kid got hasseled by the cops was because of ,”shoddy journalism.” Scary America, very scary. All I can do is shake my head and wonder what is happening to my country when people begin to question the rights of citizens to document what they think of as wrong. The Bill of Rights was written to protect against tyranny, but it seems that a number of Americans have decided that tyranny is a good thing. I notice that the police department hasn’t issued a statement saying that it is legal to photograph an officer in the line of duty. One would think that a police deparment that wanted to reassure the public they serve would want to clear that issue up right away.

  5. Seth Schoen says:

    I was pretty sure that there was a successful 42 USC 1983 claim in Pennsylvania last year against a police officer (in his individual capacity!) for arresting someone for photographing the police. I can’t find it at the moment, but I’ll keep looking.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ray Said:
    “Your right about they shouldn’t let police officers family be photographed…But your totally wrong about the rest.”

    Not sure what you mean by ‘the rest’.

    Notorious california gang MS13 (Mara Salvatrucha) is known to do just this sort of thing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mara_Salvatrucha

    And I am not saying that cops are all nice friendly boyscouts like me, I am saying they have a legitimate reason to be nervous about being observed. That some many or most cops abuse these protections is besides the point.

    That said I do think that if anyone witnesses police doing wrong, then they should record the event, and knowingly be willing to be punished for it.

    Aside, in the case of the article, it did say that this was a new law for the area, so I would expect some leniency in that context.

    -sam

  7. I was at SFO the other night on a flight greeted by Chief Heather Fong and several officers. We figured someone on the flight had been arrested or was being extradited, or maybe a dignitary. We had no idea; as we were waiting for our shuttle we could see the limo outside baggage claim. Several people came out of baggage claim and shook hands with the policemen and chief. There was hugging and tears. At this point I wondered if this was family of a killed police officer. This turned out to be true. I was frankly curious about the display of activity involving a public figure, and I sorely tempted to take pictures from our vantage point. And then I imagined one of the policemen approaching me and taking my camera, taking my name, or worse.

    This story only further confirms that fear.

  8. ColScott says:

    Actually the owner of this blog should be arrested for being criminally moronic

  9. Anonymous says:

    Andrew Petersen, the writer of this blog, has called for the arrest of photographers in the past.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I think if your a public police officer you should be able to be photographed by the public, unless your undercover, but if your in uniform, pictures, video, should all be allowed. Face it if there someone targeting police officers for what ever reason they can just park by a poilice station and get what ever photo’s they need. Thats what the FBI and CIA do best, under cover operations, and photgraphing them in anyway should be illeagal, unless unknowing photographing them. For expample taking picture of your kids and they happen to be in the background ect… Sorry, a law to stop picture taking is just an escape goat. If a police officer is off duty, laws protecting normal citizens should appy to them in their off duty state as they do for us. I’m glad theres cameras on police cars, this does give added protection to protecting us for bad officers. Theres always the good and the bad. It will never be all one way, hopefully in the future it will all be the good way as technology progress’s, like video camera’s on cop cars.

  11. kevin says:

    Anon writes: …, the writer of this blog, has called for the arrest of photographers in the past.

    sad – that lady who takes pics of crying kids (or her husband) is apparently still trolling here…

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