Cops Threaten Teen Videotaping Arrest In Virginia, Call Camera ‘A Weapon’

photo of woman filming police with her cell phone
As long as you are not interfering in their investigation, police have not right to interfere with your filming them

The worst thing for a criminal to encounter while committing a crime is a live camera feed. Cops who violate either the law or departmental protocol also fear being caught on tape while doing something improper. When a juvenile started videotaping what he thought was an improper arrest, cops in Virginia pulled their guns on him– even though it was abundantly clear all he has was his camera.

“Why are you pulling the gun on me? Why are you pulling the gun on me?”  the juvenile asked the female officer who first drew down on him.

“Because you have a weapon,” the officer responded. But if she really believed he was pointing a weapon at her, at the very least she would have ordered him to drop his weapon as she approached him. She did not– because she could clearly see he was filming her and her partner with his cell phone.

The teenager, now a little concerned, shouted “No weapon, no weapon,” but the officer kept her gun on him even though she had plenty of time to determine that he was not in fact holding a gun in front of his face. Her partner can be seen running up on the cameraman, his gun also drawn, yelling at the junvenile to get down on the ground.

According to the Las Vegas Defense Group law firm: “People have every right to record police conduct (same as the press does) as long as they are not interfering with police investigations. So therefore police do NOT have the right to seize cell phones just because the public is recording them.”

And if they can’t take your phone, they can’t threaten you for filming, or worse, take your life.

An over-reaction or attempt to intimidate? You decide:

The video went viral, forcing the Fairfax County Police to explain. They sent this statement to TV affiliate Fox 5:

“Around 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 9, a group of 3-4 juveniles entered the IHOP, 6655 Arlington Blvd in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County. One of the juveniles threatened the hostess while another lifted his shirt, revealing what appeared to be a handgun in his waistband. The group departed but returned later attempting to get the employee to come outside to the parking lot.  When officers arrived, the juveniles ran to a nearby parking lot, where officers detained two subjects and did not find a weapon. While detaining them, a third subject, who the officers believed to be involved, approached with something in his hands. Due to the nature of the call and not locating a weapon, officers ordered the subject to the ground at gunpoint. Officers determined the juvenile was holding a cell phone and filming. The three juveniles were detained and later released to their parents. The investigation has been assigned to a detective in our Criminal Investigation Division. As with all pointing of a firearm events, the incident is under review.”

Maybe the “review” will uncover just what prompted the two officers to believe the cameraman “was involved.”