Monday, September 29, 2014

Give Me That Cell Phone NOW!

Three Collingdale, Pennsylvania, police officers are facing a lawsuit accusing them of unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution, retaliatory arrest and unlawful search after barging into a home to confiscate a cellphone that was being used to record one officer’s aggressive behavior.

Michael and Kia Gaymon, 35 and 38 years old respectively, also included the borough of Collingdale in the lawsuit.

According to the report, it started with a neighbor calling the police after Michael Gaymon’s mother came for a visit and partially parked her car on the neighbor’s curb Feb. 22. Three officers arrived, and one officer allegedly began to yell at the husband and wife in an “aggressive and accusatory manner” and accused them of spitting on their neighbor. The couple told the officer that was a false accusation.

“His behavior was so aggressive, and so frightening that the first thing I thought was to pull out my phone and video,” Kia Gaymon said. According to Kia, the officer came within inches of her husband’s face and screamed at him. So she started to record the incident as she stood outside the front door with her cellphone in hand. It was then that the officer noticed her and told her to stop.

“He told me that if I continued to video, he was going to come in my house and confiscate my phone and place me under arrest,” Kia Gaymon told the local media.

The officer allegedly claimed, the lawsuit notes, that it was illegal to record him. However, the family, along with the couple’s 21-year-old daughter, Sanshuray Purnell, told him he was wrong and it was their right to record him. The officer then told Kia Gaymon that he would enter her house and confiscate the phone and arrest her if she did not stop.

When she refused to comply, the officer allegedly made good on his threat, handcuffing the couple’s daughter and threatening to use a Taser on her.

After another officer took Purnell away, the officer who had handcuffed Purnell allegedly entered the family’s home, even as they asked him to leave, and grabbed Kia Gaymon, pressing his Taser up against her chest, the lawsuit claimed.

“I panicked,” Kia Gaymon recalled. “I was scared.”

She, too, was arrested. Both Gaymon and her daughter were given citations for disorderly conduct.

Cellphone footage taken of the arrests shows the Gaymons’ 10-year-old son screaming and crying in terror as the police take his mother and sister away.

“The actions that are described in the citation are for videoing the officer,” the family’s attorney, Jonathan Fienberg said. “It’s not a crime.”

In May charges against the mother and daughter were dismissed.

This is an obvious abuse of power. This officer saw fit to violate the sanctity of this family's home in a misguided attempt to defend his own "right" not to be recorded. A right that he didn't even have. But hypothetically speaking even if he did have the right not to be recorded while acting as an agent of this particular municipality, the most disturbing part of his actions is the fact that he felt that his "rights" superceded everyone else's. Being a police officer does not mean that he has more or less freedom than those who are not police officers. But it has become increasingly apparent that many officers have a sense of superiority that allows them to violate the civil liberties of the citizenry at will. This cannot, will not, and must not be tolerated. If those who have sworn to protect us choose to victimize us, then who will protect us from them?


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