A disabled veteran's phone was taken from him and he was given an unauthorized photography citation on Tuesday despite appearing to have committed no crime.
The man, 54-year-old Todd MacRae, was waiting outside of the James A. Quillen Veterans Affair (VA) Hospital this week when a police officer approached him and asked to see papers for his service dog Belle.
MacRae says the police at the VA hospital have had it out for him for a few weeks now following an incident in which a police officer stepped on Belle’s foot and she yelped in response. Police then claimed Belle was an aggressive dog and order MacRae to muzzle her.
But, as MacRae knows, there is no law in Tennessee requiring service dogs to be muzzled. Accordingly, he left Belle unmuzzled this week when he went to the VA hospital for his weekly blood tests.
At the hospital, an officer approached MacRae after seeing his dog was unmuzzled. MacRae took out his phone to record what he sensed would be a tense interaction. After several minutes of dialogue, the officer snatched MacRae’s phone from him. He was then given citations for disturbing the peace and unauthorized photography.
But, as Photography is not a Crime points out, MacRae’s use of a cell phone in this situation does not constitute unauthorized photography. Under the federal code MacRae was charged under, the only time you need written consent to photograph at a location is when you are using the photographs for commercial purposes. Since MacRae wasn’t doing this, his video seems perfectly legal.
“They clearly believe that just because I’m disabled, that I am unable to stand up for my rights,” he said.
Here’s MacRae’s video:
Following the publicity that came with Photography is not a Crime’s story, MacRae was arrested for a probation violation. He has been on probation for the last 10 years following a domestic dispute with his wife. He is being held in jail on $10,000 bond. Since MacRae can’t afford to post his bond, he will likely be in jail for at least the next 30 days.