Society

Philadelphia Police Demand Man's Cellphone, He Refuses (Video)

| by Michael Allen

Jean-Jacques Gabriel filmed two white police officers who stopped two black men on Oct. 18 in Philadelphia (video below).

When the officers realized they were being filmed, they demanded Gabriel's cellphone, but he refused to give it to them.

The two black men had their hands on their heads and asked Gabriel, who is also black, to start filming, notes the Philly Voice.

An unidentified officer told Gabriel, who was in the bike lane, that he was obstructing traffic. Gabriel said he was not obstructing, but agreed to move over and continued filming.

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The officer then walked over to Gabriel and threatened to confiscate Gabriel's cellphone because he claimed the video was evidence of a disorderly conduct arrest. The officer walked away as Gabriel told him that was not going to happen.

The officer was unaware Gabriel was live streaming the video on Facebook.

The officer soon returned, and told Gabriel to turn over his cellphone and stop recording the scene. Gabriel refused, and repeatedly asked to speak to a supervisor.

The cop then accused Gabriel of bringing himself into the situation. A second officer told Gabriel he was recording evidence. Gabriel requested a supervisor several more times.

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Gabriel asked the police if he was being detained. One officer said he was, but another said he was not. Gabriel asked to speak a supervisor again, and an officer told him it was not happening.

Gabriel told the officers he was live streaming the video on Facebook, and that's where the evidence was.

At that point, the police gave up on the cellphone, but insisted Gabriel was obstructing the street.

One cop went on to mock Gabriel, who told the officer he could not confiscate the cellphone. The officer refused to repeat his name or badge number.

"I wasn't giving it up," Gabriel recalled to Philly Voice. "I was like, 'No, this isn't happening until a supervisor explains to me. The way you're treating those guys and me already just reeks of illegality. I'm not going to listen to you. Somebody else has to explain to me why I have to give up my property.'"

Gabriel did stop filming to call 911 in an effort to get another officer to the scene. When Gabriel started recording again, the police were leaving.

"It's not the first time that I've pulled over and done video," Gabriel told the Philly Voice. "Just because I know what is done. This is something that happens every day in the lives of black people and black men in the city. There's no one there to see it. There's no one there to make it known."

A 2012 Philadelphia Police Department directive says officers are supposed to ask a witness consensually to provide a recording.

If the cops seize a cellphone, a supervisor must be contacted, which is what Gabriel requested numerous times, but the officers refused to do.

The American Civil Liberties Union's website noted in 2011 that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit unanimously ruled that a Boston man was within his rights to use his cellphone to film police officers punching a suspect in October 2007.

Sources: Philly Voice, American Civil Liberties Union / Photo Credit: Zuzu/Wikimedia Commons 

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