Society

Police Stop Teen From Filming Arrest, Use Choke Hold on Mom (Video)

| by Michael Allen

Police in Petersburg, Va., are under fire for stopping a teen from legally filming an arrest and placing his mother in a choke hold.

The incident happened a few months ago, but the family is now speaking out.

Police were handcuffing some people in the front yard of JaQuan Fisher's home, so he pulled out his cell phone and started filming the arrest of his neighbors, one of whom was his cousin.

An unidentified police officer told the teen to stop filming the arrest and added, "Unless you want me to take your phone from you."

"I put my phone in my pocket and then when he tried to take my phone, I guess he thought he was going to get my phone and he shoved me, I shoved him back," JaQuan told NBC 12 (video below).

The teen's sister began recording the struggle between her brother and the police officer, which soon included the teen's mom Debra Fisher.

"They was trying to grab my son off the porch," stated Debra. "I was trying to tell my boyfriend to open the door so we can get in the house."

A second police officer joined the struggle with the boy, his mom and the first police officer, and reportedly used mace.

"[The police] maced each other, too. He just started mace-ing everywhere," Debra claimed.

Moments later, a third police officer walks up behind Debra, who was still on the porch, and puts her in a dangerous choke hold from behind, pulling her body back against the porch railing.

JaQuan was originally charged with two counts of felony assault, but ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.

Debra was found guilty by a judge of obstructing justice.

"Let's be real clear," defense attorney Steven Benjamin told NBC 12. "You have the absolute right to stand on your front porch and record what's going on in your front yard."

"Because an officer decided to prohibit what was the video recording being made on the porch, you then had the police creating a separate encounter that very quickly got out of control, putting the other officers at risk," added Benjamin.

"[The choke hold] a dangerous procedure and it's very far along that continuum of force, that gradual increase of force that officers are allowed to use to protect themselves. It can be very dangerous to hold a person in place like that."

The Petersburg Police Department said in a statement: "All subject resistance reports are reviewed by the department and no officers were disciplined or transferred to other positions within the department because of the case. Officers are trained to use the least amount of force. No complaints have been filed and the event happened nearly 3 months ago. Officers do not hinder the public from recording video as it is their right to do so."

Debra didn't file a formal complaint with the Petersburg Police Department because she no longer trusts them, but is seeking out a lawyer to file a lawsuit.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to side with an Illinois law banning citizens from filming police without their permission, noted the Chicago Tribune.

Politico.com reported in 2013 that the U.S. Justice Department supported the right of Americans to record police under the First Amendment, and said citizens are protected from having those recordings taken away by police under the Fourth and 14th Amendments.

Sources: NBC 12, Chicago Tribune, Politico.com