Corunna, MI — Filming the police is entirely legal, in every state. However, all too often, we will see police officers overstep their authority and arrest, attack, and assault innocent people for the constitutionally protected act of documenting their behavior in public. As the following case out of Corunna, Mich. illustrates, even police chiefs, who should know better than anyone, will abuse their authority and go after folks for practicing their first amendment right of filming the police.
In the land of the free, there are ostensible checks and balances which are in place to prevent corrupt and power drunk government officials from overstepping their authority and depriving people of their rights. The largest ostensible restraint on this power is the constitution. However, as TFTP has reported for years, despite the fact that police swear an oath to uphold this constitution, they are all too often the ones who ignore it.
In a rare move, however, Corunna Police Chief Nick Chiros was fired this week for violating that oath.
“It just shows that, you know, we the people, if we speak loud enough, we can make change,” Bennington Township resident, Matthew Wrosch said.
Wrosch is a “First Amendment Audit” activist who films police, and last Friday, that is exactly what he was doing. He live-streamed police as they responded to a call for a man attempting to jump from a utility tower. The man was rescued and the cops looked like heroes, but the now-former chief Chiros was not having his officers on camera.
“Police are usually not the best people to deal with mental health issues. So I went out there specifically to film the police and make sure that his rights weren’t being violated in the process," Wrosch told ABC12.
While filming the police, state troopers asked Wrosch to move back and he complied after a brief verbal protest.
“I’m willing to compromise,” Wrosh is heard saying.
Wrosch added that he moved back 477 feet from the situation — and as the video shows, this was plenty of distance away as not to be interfering with police. Nevertheless, Chief Chiros felt it necessary to go after the man for legally filming the police.
“Hey you, I need you to get out of here,” he said.
“Nope,” Wrosch responded.
“This is a crime scene. Get out of here,” the Chief said again.
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“This is a First Amendment protected activity,” Wrosch said, in a statement that was 100 percent accurate.
“If you don’t. I’m going to arrest you,” the Chief yelled.
After going back and forth with the chief for several minutes, the chief then falsely arrested Wrosch for filming the police — but not before going off on a profanity laced tirade in which he would express exactly how he feels about Wrosch's and apparently every other citizens' rights.
“Listen, I can give a f-- about your rights right now… I’m not politically correct. So shove that up your a--. I can give a f--- less about what you think,” the Chief is heard yelling at Wrosch.
Wrosch was then kidnapped and thrown in a cage for 22 hours before he was released with no charges.
Because he live-streamed the entire thing, thousands of people around the country watched it and then called the police station to demand his release. It worked and also led to tyrant Chiro's termination. On Monday, the city council passed a unanimous vote to fire the chief.
“Oh, I knew I did nothing wrong,” he said. “And all the support I was getting from everybody that watches these, these videos, I guess there was like 15,000 calls to the city, city offices there from people that were watching my live feed.”
“There’s a lot of good cops out there, too,” Wrosch said. “I have two uncles and a grandfather that retired from the Detroit Police Department. So, I love good police. But, I won’t stand for tyrants.”
Neither will we Mr. Wrosch. Thank you for your service.
As TFTP has reported, it has been clearly established that all Americans have the right to record the police. For an officer of the law — especially the police chief — to remain willingly ignorant of this precedent is at best, dereliction of duty, and at worst, unlawful deprivation of rights.
Unfortunately, the chief was fired, but will not face charges and will keep his full pension.