Matt McGorry, who plays a corrections officer on the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black," was told that he did not have any legal rights to film a real accident scene by a police officer in Beverly Hills, California, on March 20 (video below).
In a video, which McGorry filmed and posted on his Facebook page, the officer approaches him and says, "Can I help you? Are you photographing this?"
McGorry confirms that he is, and the cop says: "OK, why don't you turn around and go away. It's none of your business, is it?"
"I think I have a legal right to film," McGorry counters.
"Honestly, you don't," the officer replies.
"I don't?" McGorry asks.
"No, you don't," the officer says. "And it's only a traffic accident. So if you were here for the traffic accident, and you have film for it, we'd love to see it."
McGorry says he doesn't have any accident footage, and then asks for the officer's name and badge number, notes Photography Is Not A Crime.
The officer answers as he walks away, and McGorry asks, "So just confirming, I have no legal right to film this?"
The cop tells McGorry how the accident scene doesn't concern him, and adds, "I don't care. You can photograph the whole thing if you want."
"Oh, so I do have a legal right?" McGorry asks.
"I don't think you do," the cop says. "But it doesn't matter."
McGorry tells the cop it does matter "because that's how we've gotten a lot of videos of police officers killing people, right? Every eight hours."
The Beverly Hills Police Department has not issued a statement on the incident.
McGorry included a lengthy statement on his Facebook page about the video, and his political activism with Black Lives Matter:
This is intimidation and a violation of my constitutional right to film an on officer that is on duty. As I was driving home, I spotted a few Latinx folks who were on the side of the road with police, so I pulled over to film the encounter. Let me give you some background:
Having spent nearly the last year consistently going to [BLMLA] (Black Lives Matter LA) actions, I've seen first hand more and more of the corruption that permeates various police departments and primarily targets People of Color...
Being white, and thus being 3x less likely to die at the hands of police than black folks, I believe that it is OUR DUTY to film these interactions and to educate ourselves on matters that we are often ignorant of simply because of the privilege granted to us by the color of our skin...
"Why don't you turn around and go away?" while aggressively walking within a foot of my face was intimidating. Telling me it's illegal to film him is a lie ABOUT THE LAW that an officer OF THE LAW told me (and made me fear arrest for exercising my constitutional right).
And then laughing that LEOs kill someone every 8 hours? What if the situation had gone bad, but I had not been there to film it, for fear of arrest? What if I wasn't white in Beverly Hills during the day, but Black, in a low income neighborhood, at night?