On the day after Washington D.C. police implemented a new general order stating they must respect the rights of citizens who record them in public, an undercover cop snatched a cell phone from a man who was recording an investigation in public.

When they finally returned the phone back to Earl Staley later that day, he said his memory card was missing.

Now the ACLU, which assisted in drafting the policy, says that perhaps the officer did not know of the guidelines.

That’s still no excuse.

Because even though the general order, which came as a result of Jerome Vorus’ lawsuit, clearly states what police can and can’t do when it comes to dealing with civilians recording them in public, it doesn’t create any new laws that police must learn.

It simply spells out the existing laws in easy-to-read language that even the dumbest of cops can understand. Just in case they have not been keeping up with the multitude of court decisions that have arose over the last few years throughout the country stating that police do not have an expectation of privacy in public.

Or the U.S. Department of Justice guidelines issued straight out of Washington D.C. to the Baltimore Police Department two months earlier.

According to My Fox DC:

Staley says his smartphone was snatched by a D.C. Police officer last Friday evening along Raleigh Place in Southeast D.C. Staley says he saw police punching a man they were arresting and another plain-clothes officer harassing the people watching.

“So I go and grab my phone and start trying to record it,” says Staley, a 26-year-old employee of a private, non-profit mental health agency in the District. “And once I do that, another vice cop reaches over my back and grabs my phone and tells me he’s not giving my phone back.”

“That was the wrong thing for the officer to do,” says the ACLU’s Art Spitzer.

He says that officer may not have known about a new General Order issued by D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier that went into effect last Thursday.

“And the order is completely clear that in terms of preventing a person from taking pictures. The police are never to do that,” Spitzer continues.

Police told My Fox DC that “they are looking into it,” which means that we will most likely hear nothing more about the incident unless Staley files a lawsuit.

And even then, that is still not going to stop this abuse. But at least maybe it will make up for some of the images lost, which included hundreds of pictures of his four-year-old daughter.

First thing Staley should do is file an internal affairs complaint because even though we know that will result in the officer not getting disciplined, it may help Staley identify and publicize the name of the cop who abused his right to record in public.

And if anything, perhaps fear of exposure and humiliation might make him think twice in the future of doing that to another citizen.

Then again, it probably won’t.


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I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

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