A Gray County Sheriff’s Deputy tried to seize a man's camera after he recorded law enforcement making a traffic stop in Pampa, Texas, on April 4.
While he films four police cars during a stop from across the street, a sheriff’s deputy walks over and asks the man why he is filming and asks for his identification, which the man chooses not to give, but does give the deputy his name and date of birth, notes PhotographyIsNotaCrime.com.
When the man decides to depart later, another deputy drives over and demands to take ''all" of his camera equipment for "evidence."
The deputy refuses the man's request to speak to a sheriff by saying, "I can, but I won't."
The deputy tells the man not to talk, but the man claims his First Amendment right. The deputy threatens to arrest the man, but cannot say for what charge. The deputy also tries to take the video camera, but the man refuses to give it up.
The deputy then claims the man was filming an “active open police investigation” and tells the man that he is not allowed to record it.
The man informs the deputy that he can subpoena his camera equipment if needed, but the deputy responds, "You can't go around recording us... you're under an investigation."
The deputy then identifies himself as "Stokes," but refuses to give his badge number.
Another deputy comes up later and says he is not "used to seeing people use video cameras in Pampa, Texas."
Deputy Stokes returns and tells the man that he only has the right to refuse to answer questions "once you're arrested," which is not true. People can invoke the First Amendment at any time.
In May, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the public can film police officers.
RT.com reports the court ruled, "It is clearly established in this circuit that police officers cannot, consistently with the Constitution, prosecute citizens for violating wiretapping laws when they peacefully record a police officer performing his or her official duties in a public area."
In 2012, the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled that filming police officers is legal, noted JSOnline.com.