Civil Liberties

I'm Pretty Sure There Isn't an Ap for That


Another arrest for shooting video of an on-duty cop, this time in Ohio.

When a deputy sheriff began questioning Melissa Greenfield's boyfriend at a Delaware County truck stop, she began recording video with her cell phone.

She never thought that she, or her phone, could be viewed as a danger as she documented the activities of public employees in a public place.

"I'm a 115-pound, 20-year-old girl wearing a cervical collar with nothing but a cell phone. I was not going to harm any officer," Greenfield said yesterday.

However, a sheriff's sergeant saw the situation differently after Greenfield announced that she was recording video "for legal purposes and our own safety."

Sgt. Jonathan Burke wrote that he repeatedly ordered Greenfield to place the "unknown" object in her pocket and keep her hands free. When Greenfield refused, she was arrested and charged with obstructing official business and resisting arrest.

Burke wrote in his report that he feared that Greenfield could have been holding a dangerous object such as a "cell-phone gun"…

"Not knowing what the item in her hand was and having prior knowledge of all types of hidden weapons, including a cell-phone gun, I asked her several times to place it in her pocket and to keep her hands free," Burke wrote.

Greenfield said that, while driving her to the jail, Burke said that it was "unacceptable for me to be filming his activities."

"I wish I could be surprised," she said, "but I've heard so many stories of incidents like this happening before. … There's no law against videotaping police encounters."

Emphasis mine, to draw attention to the utter inanity of Dep. Burke's report.

Greenfield is right. There's no law in Ohio against videotaping police encounters. Unfortunately, there's also no punishment for cops who violate the rights of Ohioans who try to do it. Delaware County Sheriff Walter L. Davis III is defending Dep. Burke and his cell-phone gun fears.

Greenfield says when she got the phone back, the video had been erased. Davis denies any of his deputies erased the video. Must have been a glitch.

Greenfield spent three days in jail. She pled no contest to the obstructing official business charge and was fined $20.