Memphis, TN – While complying with the officer’s orders, a bystander was assaulted by several cops for filming them. Although the Memphis Police Department (MPD) officially recognizes the public’s First Amendment right to record video of law enforcement officers, the unidentified cop appears to assault a witness on video for attempting to exercise his constitutional rights.
Posted on Monday, a recent video shows several MPD officers surrounding an unidentified male when one of the cops orders a bystander, recording the incident on his cell phone, to leave the street. Despite the fact that the street is blocked in both directions with patrol cars, the witness complies with the officer’s orders and steps onto the sidewalk while continuing to film.
“Matter of fact, the sidewalk is made to walk, not to stay,” the unidentified officer informs the cameraman. “You feel me?”
“I’m walking, man,” the bystander tells the aggressive officer.
“Matter of fact, leave the scene,” the cop commands. “How ’bout that?”
“Nah, this is my house,” the cameraman responds while continuing to walk down the sidewalk.
After asking his fellow officers if this is a crime scene, the cop repeats, “Keep moving, little bro.”
Even though the witness appears to continue complying with the officer’s unlawful orders, the cop takes him down on video while stating, “You got the wrong one, little bro.”
With the cell phone knocked out of his hand, another witness picked it up and recorded five officers arresting a nonviolent man on the ground. Before the police handcuffed him, the man repeated, “I ain’t resisting!”
On Monday, Facebook user Francesco DaDon Guglielmette posted the video of his reported arrest and wrote, “When did simple recording become a crime??? I was assaulted by Memphis Police department just for recording… Arrested on false charges and treated like an pure animal.”
Guglielmette explained, “Someone broke in to my lil brother home… I get a phone call to go check on his mom. We the ones who called the police… They were just mad because I was recording them abusing their authority.”
“I understand the outrage from the community concerning this video; however, I do ask that you all allow us to conduct a thorough investigation into the actions of this officer,” stated Interim Director Michael Rallings on MPD’s Facebook page. “This investigation will be handled expeditiously and the findings will be released to you all at the conclusion of the investigation. The Memphis Police Department takes all citizen complaints seriously and I can assure you that this investigation will be handled appropriately.”
According to a 2013 MPD Policy and Procedure Update, the “Memphis Police Department (MPD) recognizes that members of the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph, and/or audio record MPD members while members are conducting official business or while acting in an official capacity in any public space, unless such recordings interfere with police activity.”
Since Guglielmette was clearly following orders while recording MPD members, he does not appear to interfere with police activity. According to WREG, officers also can’t demand an ID, detain the person, demand the person stop recording, or demand an explanation of why the person is recording.
The MPD updated its policy after detaining a journalist and deleting footage of an arrest recorded on his cell phone in 2012. Despite the fact that the MPD describes itself as “a multidimensional agency and one of the most progressive police departments in the nation,” MPD policy currently allows officers to shut off all body cameras and police dash cams during an investigation.