Assault With a Deadly Camera

Frank Waterhouse of Oregon is suing Portland police after he was tasered and shot with a beanbag gun. His offense? Videotaping a warrantless police search on a friend's property. The police report helpfully explains that the force used on Waterhouse (who was standing far off on the edge of the property) was necessary because, "He had refused to drop the camera which could be used as a weapon."

First time I've heard that one.

Waterhouse was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass. He was acquitted on all charges.

Video here. My article on why it should always be legal to videotape police here.

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  • VM||

    Thank you again, Radley!

  • ||

    I guess the Portland police claimed content ownership of the video?

  • ||

    looks like the video went down the memory hole.
    It's fine that he's suing them. Well and good, I hope he gets a big payday. But these guys should already be under arrest and facing criminal charges. MOTHERFUCKERS.

  • ||

    When police departments are sued, the payouts should be from their pension funds.

  • ||

    Good cops go out of their way to get their behavior on tape, so people can't lie about what happened later.

  • technomist||

    What a charming young lady. Another reason not to holiday in the States.

  • ||

    "He had refused to drop the camera which could be used as a weapon."

    It was probably emitting Sony waves.

  • ||

    It's common knowledge that this kind of behavior is not indicitative of normal police procedures. This is probably just AN ISOLATED INCIDENT! Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along.

    Call/E-mail your state representative, to make videotaping of police completely legal in your state. To appropriate a phrase, "There's no need to worry if you have nothing to hide."

  • ||

    Oh, snail mail works too. Maybe even better.

  • Damn||

    Radley, I hope you don't take this the wrong way because I think you are great. But every time I read one of your posts, I feel the world is going to end.

    Perhaps it is.

  • Bingo||

    The only reason you would need to videotape a police officer is if you are being arrested and if you are being arrested you are a criminal. Therefore, if you need to videotape police officers you are a criminal.

    Woah, I just channeled statist there for a second.

  • ||

    There's probably a part of this story that we're not getting. The camera might have been disguised as a rocket launcher, or laser-beam emitting...thing

  • ed||

    I believe the right to taser trailer trash is firmly ensconced in the Constitution.

  • ||

    Maybe the camera looked like an LED Mooninite. You know how dangerous those things can be.

  • M||

    If he doesn't like the way he's treated, he can always go videotape some other police from some other dirt embankment.

    "Dirt embankment," btw, is an excellent name for these guys' pension funds.

  • Episiarch||

    As we all know, anything can be a weapon, even puppies.

  • ||

    ed: you might like this

    Episiarch: even kitties!

  • VM||

  • ||

    This story is just begging to be spoofed on Reno 911.

    I can see Lt Dangle and the Bullet-Proof Vest guy screaming "Put down the camera!" while pulling out their guns. Then would come the philosophical discussion where the old animist notion of camera's stealing their subject's souls would be brought up. "Better safe than sorry." would be the consensus.

    The damn thing practically writes itself.

  • ||

    Every time I see one of these videos, my blood gets to boiling--I get so mad I can't see straight. Perspiration, hard to breathe...

    God bless Radley Balko for giving police brutality all the attention he can--but I swear, one of these days he's gonna give me a heart attack.

  • Greg||

    I suppose the difference between statists and non-statists could be summed up as those who see Reno 911 as parody and those who see it as satire.

  • ||

    But, but, I thought the Portland PD was all warm and fuzzy, since they treat the homeless kids all nice and stuff....

  • Paul||

    You can't tape these people! They're public officials!

  • ||

    I'm sitting here waving my bullsh*t flag as furiously as I can. I can't believe these police departments. These are supposed to be public servants for crying out loud. This is such bullsh*t and I can only hope (though I won't hold my breath) that the citizens of Portland make these cops pay...

  • ||

    If the cops all had scramble suits, it wouldn't matter if we taped them. I bet they're working on it.

  • ||

    Speaking of Tasers... anyone see this yet?

    http://www.thorshield.com/

    Conductive fabric that protects against tasers. They only sell to law enforcement and the military though.

  • Franklin Harris||

    N.W.A. said it best.

  • ||

    Police? It seemed like a good idea at the time:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peelian_Principles

    ... ahh the naievete of our Victorian foreparents...ain't it cute.

    By the way, do cop cars still have the "Serve and Protect" motto? I'm guessing the rest of the motto "..ourselves first.." is in stealth paint that can only be seen through special cop sunglasses.

    Couldn't some libertarian techno-geek type figure out a way so that all privately generated recordings of cops, or other armed bureaucrats are immediately uploaded to Reason TV or YouTube? A citizen could, even "should" record such stuff. (see item 7 at link above which states "...the police being only members of the public who are paid to give attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.")

    So let's add another law to the mix (why not society is going to hell in a handbasket anyway, one more law ain't gonna make much difference) From this day forth, all citizens in possession of a video and/or audio recording device, record and automatically upload a recording of any government employee at any time who claims to be doing his/her job.

    If nothing else this law would likely discourage folks from casually carrying recording devices about their persons. Who wants to be busted by a cop for NOT following the law that requires one to commence taping a cop? And it would be especially annoying to be busted by a uniformed cop for NOT recording an undercover cop. Better to not even have a recording device on hand... but then the bad cops could plant something on your body after they gunned you down for failing to record their approach...

    I'm starting to get confused now... it starts out as fantasy, but so quickly starts to sound plausible and real!!! aaaaarrrrgh!

    To end on a hopefully sane note: at 1:04 posting, J sub D points out, they (you know who "they" are) have a fondness for the statement: "There's no need to worry if you have nothing to hide." Let's climb aboard and use it with them. We can be all warm and fuzzy sharing the concept together.

  • Scooby||

    N.W.A. said it best.
    NWA does come to mind just about every time a Radley Balko story comes up.

  • Jack||

    Ice Cube and Body Count come to mind every time a Radley Balco story comes up

  • ||

    Oh, I've read about this in my legal journals. The police are asserting their right of ferocity, another West-Coast innovation to the right to privacy torts (like the similar right of publicity).

  • ||

    Whilst playing the Tranformers Video game, I observed that Barricade has a more apt motto stenciled on his door...

    "To Punish and Enslave"

    Or from South Park PD..

    "To Pester and Annoy"

  • LarryA||

    "He had refused to drop the camera which could be used as a weapon." First time I've heard that one.

    Rodney King.

  • ||

    Police officers followed a police dog onto the property during a search for a fleeing suspect.



    Is anybody else intensely curious as to the crime committed by the fleeing subject? My better judgment tells me it might've had something to do with "Mary wanna"...

  • ed||

    the crime committed by the fleeing subject?

    I don't know, but given the neighborhood, I'll bet a mullet was involved.

  • ||

    Kind of strange, but the "cops can do no wrong" crowd at fark.com seems to have taken a break-very supporters of these cops in this thread

  • Doctor Duck||

    given the neighborhood, I'll bet a mullet was involved

    Isn't that Mulletnomah County?

  • ||

    Good cops go out of their way to get their behavior on tape

    I was about to respond "Oh please, no cops go out of their way to get their behavior on tape" until I realized those two statements are not inconsistent.

    Speaking of cops getting their behavior on tape, apparently this cop has no problem with being video taped on... ahem... "duty" as it were.

    From the story:

    Though [adult film star, Barbie Cummings] received a speeding ticket, [state trooper Randy] Moss [no, not that Randy Moss - though the name is apparently rather fitting] is accused of ignoring some illegal pills in Cummings' car in exchange for a sexual favor. Moss resigned after Cummings said she performed oral sex on him during the stop.

    Cummings, 21, wrote about their encounter on her blog and said in May that the trooper sent her photos and video he shot at the stop.

    Her blog said that although she acknowledged having drugs she described only as "happy pills," the trooper threw them into the brush near the highway.

  • ||

    Hey this is Michael Young and while you may disagree with these cops making the decision to taser this person...it is clear that now that they are tasered they are probably dangerous enemies of our police forces therefore all serious analysts agree that we need to keep them in a cell and taser them every day into the forseeable future. Returning to the policy of leaving these people alone would be irresponsible.

  • ||

    At least Mr. Waterhouse survived. The cops in Philly recently shot and killed a teenager who was "menancing" them with a clothes iron. As the top cop said, "It could have killed someone if he threw it at us."

  • ||

    Why am I not surprised?

  • ||

    """When police departments are sued, the payouts should be from their pension funds."""

    Or subtracted from their budget.

  • ||

    The cops in Philly recently shot and killed a teenager who was "menancing" them with a clothes iron. As the top cop said, "It could have killed someone if he threw it at us."

    Here's a link to the Philadelphia clothes iron shooting. From the article City police have fatally shot 14 people this year. Last year, 20 people were killed in police shootings, the city's highest annual total in more than a quarter-century. From 2001 thru 2007 two Philadelphia police officers were killed in the line of duty.

    Maybe being a cop in Philadelphia is dangerous, but I'd reckon being a citizen is even more so.

  • tekel||

    You suggest that all police encounters with the public should be on film. I fully support that requirement, but why stop there?

    I think that all elected and appointed public officials should be continuously videotaped, nonstop 24-7, and the tapes should be publicly available to anyone who wants to watch and archived for at least 10 years.

    We could fund the program from the savings that would be realized from the corruption it would prevent.

  • Full Video||

    Watch the full video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7vNv-DKlK8

  • ||

    one thing that shoud happen is that psychopathy should be declared an illness and psychopaths should be kept on some list. they shouldnt be allowed to hold offices. then test all officials for psychopathy. we'd have completely different politicians and ppl in power.

  • ||

    Speaking of cops getting their behavior on tape, apparently this cop has no problem with being video taped on... ahem... "duty" as it were.

    From the story:
    Though [adult film star, Barbie Cummings] received a speeding ticket, [state trooper Randy] Moss [no, not that Randy Moss - though the name is apparently rather fitting] is accused of ignoring some illegal pills in Cummings' car in exchange for a sexual favor.
    ...


    The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began investigating Moss in June after an adult film star, Barbie Cummings, posted an explicit video of the two on her Web site. Cummings' birth name is Justis Richert.

    This officer of the law is relentless in the pursuit of Justis!

  • Dave Woycechowsky||

    Off duty police shoots threatening man who may have had a gun. There is video. No charges being filed. Interesting, worth checking out:

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5inebdwoYr2nxsrrEiP124KuNjOIwD8SACFM83

  • ||

    Brian Courts,

    All me to rephrase that - good police departments go out of their way to get their cops' behavior on tape, so officers and citizens can't lie about it later.

  • ||

    As a Portland resident, I can only thank God the police are actively protecting me from deadly camera-wielding neighbors. Sure, now they're only filming the police, but you know that as soon as the cops turn their backs, BAM!

  • ||

    Honestly this does not surprise me coming from the Portland Police thugs.

    Just google: "Portland Police Brutality" to get an idea how far out of hand they are getting in this town.

  • ||

    Forgot to yell, "Don't tase me Bro!"

    Punked and pwned!

  • Thebes||

    I couldn't help but think of a story I read earlier today. It seems that respect for cops is down, and there has been a sharp surge in cop killing.

    Wow, I wonder why people might not respect cops anymore. I am not saying all cops are thugs with badges, but it seem like half the ones around here are. The real problem is that "good" cops normally cover for them.

    http://news.aol.com/story/ar/_a/rash-of-brutal-cop-killings-worries/20071015102709990002

  • Captain Video||

    Security guards employed by public schools are not to be filmed either:

    "The student said that when the security guard realized the incident was being recorded, he tackled the student taking the video."

    http://www.ksn.com/news/also/10109281.html

    "A 14-year-old student, who videotaped the incident, also tangled with the guard after he failed to hand over the camera."

    http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-palmdale12oct12,1,2882784.story?

    But according to the sheriff, the security guard is a good guy:

    "'We have determined there was no criminal behavior by the security guard,' said Capt. Carl Deeley, commander of the Lancaster station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. 'In fact, we believe he showed great patience and used the minimal amount of force necessary in that case.'"

    http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_7165360

  • ||

    ...we believe he showed great patience and used the minimal amount of force necessary in that case.

    Of course they believe that. The kid's still alive, isn't he?

  • ||

    I missed the part where any force was necessary at all when a student is filming on public property. But that's just me.

  • ||

    What we need is multiple kids videoing the same police or security guards. They can't tackle them all, especially if the cops are overweight and out of shape, which many are from eating junk food on the job.

    Come on Radley, you could stick a small camera inside a bazooka and kill someone!!

  • ||

    good luck with your legal battles

    these pigs should be in prison

  • ||

    I think the only defensible justification for the laws is that being able to tape police would make it easier for criminal organizations to study and correlate police techniques, etc.

    Of course, in practice it's simply used to make sure every allegation of police misconduct boils down to the word of a fine upstanding public servant vs. that of a dirty sniveling criminal "civilian".

  • Captain Video||

    @crimethink

    There was no suggestion in this story that Waterhouse violated an anti-filming law premised on the justification you suggest. He was charged with disorderly conduct and trespass. I don't see how trespass was plausible here. Disorderly conduct was more plausible because its so vague and ambiguous. Apparently, anything that irritates a police officer can qualify.

    What about the prosecutor here? Why did he pursue such a ridiculous case before a jury? Did any reporter ask?

  • wayaway||

    This really is serious - peple need to be held to account here... this kind of bullshit can not be countenanced in modern society.

  • ||

    I missed the part where any force was necessary at all when a student is filming on public property. But that's just me.

    RC, he was annoying someone in authoritah. He's a punk kid. The beat down is assumed.

  • ||

    On the Assoc. Press this morning: a Scranton, PA woman faces 90 days and $300 fine when a neighbor reported her for cursing, in her own home, at an overflowing toilet. That's right...the neighbor was an off-duty cop.

  • ||

    And we expect what from people willing to risk their lives upholding dumbass laws they know they can not enforce yet still try all for an average of what 28K a year to start.

    Critical thinking people with problem solving skills are not your most likely bunch to apply for this job. As such you get the best of the rest which shows through each time Radley posts again and again and again.

    Meanwhile ever city out there is currently trying to install cameras to watch all of the citizens and no one has any problems with that. Oh thats right the cops will control those cams so no problem with that video taping what so ever.

  • ||

    The police officer who fired that taser should be fired as a threat to public safety.

  • TallDave||

    The cop is right, a camera is a deadly threat to their authority -- or the abuse of it, anyway.

    Next to guns, video evidence is the best check the citizenry have against fascist behavior by governmental goons, and for that matter ordinary public thuggery. This is one reason why everybody is going to be carrying video cameras in a decade or so.

    Cops and criminals beware: Little Brother is watching.

  • ||

    Uh- does anyone else see what actually happened here?

    The guy who ends up with the camera *IS* the perp that the cops were looking for in the first place.

    Recap of video:

    3 distinct female voices talking while cops are searching around cars-
    Guy voice suddenly heard out of nowhere very close to camera- "Is there anyone in there?"
    Woman hands camera to guy, telling him to film from behind the fence (why???), cops are still searching around the cars-
    Cops come over to talk to woman, one of them now sees the guy with the camera-
    Female cop approaches guy, and sees that he is the one who was running from them- "You're the one who ran from me"-
    He says "I've been here the whole time!"

    So- this guy was running from the cops and dove in to his tarptown, then tried to blend in like he was just another upset resident.
    Tarptown residents can be sneakier than you think...

  • ||

    HE'S COMING RIGHT FOR US!

    - Uncle Jimbo

  • Washington Irving||

    Come on folks! Don't forget that Shah Massoud, the Lion of the Panjshir, was killed by Al Qaida assassins using an explosive video camera. This guy could have been trying to blow up the cops to pave the way for the next 9/11!

  • Daniel in Brookline||

    Let's not jump to judgement, folks. As scosol says, there can be more to these cases than meets the eye.

    I agree completely that the police are public servants, and that we have a right to videotape them performing their duties -- if we don't interfere in the process. (Please note that, in the heat of the moment, it's the police who have to decide if we're interfering or not. Unfair, but that's the way it is.)

    But that's a big 'if'. Police are understandably skittish about such things; when they're trying to deal with a life-or-death threat, they don't need to worry about the idiot with the camera. (And to a police officer, ANY new situation is potentially a life-or-death threat.)

    Police are probably concerned as well about the video footage for the same reason soldiers in Iraq are. Perfectly legal actions, captured on videotape, can be made to look wrong... and suddenly a cop, who made split-second decisions under fire, gets second-guessed in court by people who have had all the time in the world to think about it.

    We're already second-guessing the troops that way; my guess is that it's only a matter of time before cops are monitored similarly. But we're not there yet, and the police probably aren't eager to get there. Is that appropriate? Probably not. Is it understandable? It sure is.

    And finally, let's remember the pragmatic rule: when on-duty police have their guns out, don't look like a threat. Nor is that a good time to argue First Amendment rights with them. If a cop with his gun drawn orders me to put down the camera, and I refuse, I'm not asserting First Amendment rights; I'm asserting my God-given right to be a suicidal idiot.

    If you see the police doing something they're not supposed to do, you don't have to videotape them to testify against them. So when the cop orders you to put the camera down, I'd say that the smart thing to do is to agree, take careful mental notes of what happens next, and make sure to get the cop's badge number... later.

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

  • lalslslfklflfje||

    Recap for those arriving late: "Waterhouse was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass. He was acquitted on all charges."

  • ||

    The critics here are ignoring that video cameras are a well-know weapon used against cops. It's like that cop-killer rap song:

    "I press the zoom button to kill me a pig/I gots me a memory chip that's really fucking big/cop see it coming, he gonna start to beg/watch me kill him with this digital I got off newegg."

  • ||

    Daniel in Brookline: "And to a police officer, ANY new situation is potentially a life-or-death threat."

    And this is different for the rest of us, how?

  • ||

    It's gotta be cuz the Portland Police Bureau is located in a city run by authoritarian conservative Republicans...oh, wait...

  • ||

    the sad thing is that it doesnt even remotely surprise me...

  • Daniel in Brookline||

    PersonFromPorlock:

    This is different from the rest of us, yes. A uniformed police officer is a target. When uniformed cops patrol in a high-crime area, they are, for all intents and purposes, waving a flag that says "shoot me".

    Think about it. When you walk into a high-crime neighborhood, you blend into the crowd; you stand a risk of getting mugged by a career criminal, but it's roughly the same risk as everyone else there. Now put a uniformed police officer there, with his back turned; who's the target?

    There's a reason cops take serious precautions at ordinary traffic stops. Too many police officers have been killed that way, without warning.

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

  • ||

    You got it wrong, Daniel.

    Any interaction with a cop is a life-or-death situation for the rest of us.

  • James Wolfentein||

    Time to change for the better. Think about Ron Paul on the next election. Libertarianism and small government means a change in the balance of power. It means that this kind of police behavior is not going to be tolerated anymore. It's going to take some time but it has to be done.

  • ||

    i need help my son was taz in a court room and cop said he shot him with a beanbag round but i can not find a bang on the tape and there was no vido do they make a noise bigskyburgers@yahoo.com

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