Howard Mora was recently filming the outside of police headquarters in Fremont, Calif., from a public sidewalk when he was detained by a female police officer.
According to PhotographyisNotaCrime.com, Officer Jill Martinez walked up to Mora and asked him what he was doing (video below).
When Mora said he was filming, Officer Martinez stated, "You cannot be videotaping people and police coming in and out."
When Officer Martinez asked for his identification, Mora said he didn't have any. Officer Martinez asked for his name, but Mora replied, "I'm going to remain silent."
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Mora then asked if he was being detained, which Officer Martinez confirmed.
Officer Martinez told Mora that videotaping a police department was "suspicious activity" and added, "It's confidential information for us."
Officer Martinez asked Mora to stop filming, but he refused to do so. Moments later, Officer Martinez asked Mora to leave.
Sgt. Patrick Epps then walked up and Officer Martinez told him, “Sarge, this guy was videotaping cars coming in and out of our police department, which is very suspicious, and he refuses to identify himself and will not put down his camera. I told him it’s not ok for us, especially because of the confidentiality of us.”
“Am I being detained or am I free to go?” Mora asked Sgt. Epps, who replied, “You’re free to go."
According Politico.com, the courts have repeatedly ruled that citizens and journalists can film law enforcement in public places as long as they do not interfere with the official duties of officers.
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“The courts have pretty much been unanimous that citizens have the right to photograph the police in public, period,” Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told Politico.com..
The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that a Boston lawyer arrested by police for filming the police was protected by the First Amendment. An U.S. Appeals Court struck down an Illinois law in 2012 that banned citizens from filming the police without their permission.