A recent case where a police officer attempted to seize a cell phone by claiming it could be a weapon underscores how cops are now being trained to treat phones as potential guns in an underhanded effort to prevent people from recording police activity.
As a result of the numerous legal cases that have proven recording police officers is not a crime, authorities are getting more creative in attempting to stop abuse by law enforcement offices ending up as a viral video on YouTube.
In the clip above, Detective Shannon Todd of the Newark Police Gang Unit approaches a man who is recording a police stop on his cell phone, ordering him to, “put your phone down, put it in your pocket.”
Despite acknowledging that the device is a phone, when the man refuses to follow the unlawful order, Todd remarks, “I need to hold on to it,” before stating, “May I look at it and inspect it to ensure it’s not a firearm.”
“The truth is, she feared being the victim of a viral Youtube video instead of a fatal bullet, which is why she ordered the citizen to place his hands behind his back,” writes Carlos Miller.
Miller cites three other separate cases where police have attempted to stop an incident being recorded by claiming that a flip camera or a cell phone could be a lethal weapon, one where a Sony Bloggie camera was confiscated by Hialeah police officer Antonio Sentmanat in South Florida, another where San Diego police officer Martin Reinhold slapped a cell phone out of a man’s hands and arrested him for recording while the officer was writing a citation for smoking in an unauthorized area, and a third where a cop in Arkansas seized a Adam Pringle’s phone while he was recording the Exxon oil spill outside Little Rock.
“Reinhold told Pringle that he had specifically been trained to assume cell phones could be guns, which is apparently a training lesson being taught at police departments throughout the country,” writes Miller, adding that this is, “obviously a tactic meant to dissuade video recording rather than ensure officer safety.”
The rest of the incident in Newark consists of police attempting to intimidate the man against recording proceedings, as you can see in the clip below.
You need my phone because it could be a gun?