Police Abuse

Baltimore Cops Sued (Again) For Destroying Citizen Footage of Them Caught in the Act of Being Themselves


From the wonderful "Photography is Not a Crime" blog:

the Baltimore Police Department is being sued for attacking a woman and smashing her camera, marking the second time in two years it has been sued for destroying footage.

Current Issue

The first suit earned them a federal reprimand. The second will hopefully earn them a federal investigation. 

In that suit, which was filed last week, Makia Smith says she was stuck in stand-still rush hour traffic in March 2012 when she saw a group of cops beating up a man.

She stepped out of her car, stood on the door sill and began recording.

She was quickly confronted by an aggressive cop named Nathan Church, who grabbed her phone, threw it on the ground and smashed it with his foot.

"You want to film something, bitch? Film this," he yelled.

He then proceeded to beat her.

Quoting from the suit as filed:

"Officer Church pulled plaintiff out of her car by her hair and beat her. Officers Pilkerton, Ulmer, and Campbell then ran to plaintiff's car and joined Officer Church in beating plaintiff and arrested her using excessive force. At all times described herein, plaintiff's two year old daughter witnessed her mother's beating and arrest by the Officers, as did others."?     Smith claims the cops taunted her and threatened to take her daughter away……

"The officers, despite the pleas of plaintiff, refused to call plaintiff's mother. Instead, the officers tormented plaintiff by telling her that her daughter would be taken from her and sent to Social Services. Seeing plaintiff's distressful reaction to these tormenting threats, they continued," the complaint states.?     Smith says claims she was arrested and taken to jail on bogus charges that she assaulted Church and resisted arrest.?     She claims Church failed to appear for her trial – twice, and prosecutors dropped the charges, but she had to hire a lawyer and spend more money recovering her impounded car.

A Reason classic from Radley Balko from January 2011 on the police's war on cameras.

NEXT: 3,000 Doctors Protest New Edition of Psychiatry Manual

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  1. Remember the days when destroying evidence was considered a criminal act?

    1. I don’t remember the days, nor have I read about the days when agents of the state destroying evidence was punished criminally.

      1. Watergate?

        1. Yeah, I forgot about that one.

          Which is surprising considering how at least one movie or TV program tells the story every other year. Maybe it’s a case of fatigue amnesia.

    2. What fictional books have you been reading? I would say in today’s world with instant communication and there no longer being local news for the most part we’re just seeing a reflection of what has always been.

      Oh and ya, NWA was right.


  3. Cops are learning more about the legality of filming in public. The best explanation for this repeated violation by LEOs is not ignorance anymore. Think hockey: would you rather be penalized for hauling a top forward down as he’s entering the offensive zone unopposed, and have a chance at a penalty kill, or face the near certainty of being scored upon.

    I would not be surprised.if some cops are doing these calculations and would prefer to be chewed out for confiscation and destruction of video evidence than face chargrs of brutality and excessive forece.

    1. Funny how the option of simply not being a thug doesn’t enter into their calculus.

      1. They wouldn’t join the force in the first place if they didn’t want to be thugs.

      2. The job description for “cop” issued by Classification and Compensation is “Jack-booted thug” so not being a thug is out of title work. No good union member would perform out of title work.

      3. What’s the point in carrying a club and a gun if you’re not going to use them at every available opportunity?

        1. Careful or that argument may be turned against you one day.

          1. I’m not a cop so your point is stupid.

            1. He thinks the Ke$ha creature is hot. What do you expect?

            2. I know, right. It’s so stupid to think that someone would say something like “Why do you need a gun? What are you going to use it for?” as a reason to take everyone’s guns away. Why don’t you pull your panties out of your crack, tough guy?

              1. You really don’t get it do you?

              2. “Why don’t you pull your panties out of your crack, tough guy?”

                And you’ll notice, straight to silly personal insults, when I called his point stupid.

                Says much.

                1. You really don’t get it do you?

                  What don’t I get, your point that police are different than regular people and that’s why sarcasmic’s point is so unbelievably awesome? Sorry, I’m pretty sure you’re the one who doesn’t get it. If you start using retarded statements like sarcasmic’s as a reason for why cops act like assholes, you’re going to end up with an assload of idiots who say that is the same reason why you shouldn’t have a gun. Because, you see, retards believe that the gun is what causes people to start acting like thugs.

                  And you’ll notice, straight to silly personal insults, when I called his point stupid.

                  Are you crying now? You don’t have to cry.

                  1. Because, you see, retards believe that the gun is what causes people to start acting like thugs.

                    Yep. Retards don’t understand that thugs seek out jobs that allow them to carry a club and a gun while being immune from any consequences for their actions.

                    1. You should have just admitted that you didn’t understand my point. It may have saved you some time.

    2. Procedures, they were followed.

    3. Couple of days paid vacation, and a press release stating that procedures will be examined, and more training is needed.

      Yea, why not smash the phone?

  4. That lady has bigger balls than me. Respect.

    1. Good point, and I’ll second that.

  5. I’m still waiting for one of these assholes to get busted by video streamed/uploaded into the cloud. Has that happened yet?

    1. Here are some tools that can make that a reality:

      Cop Block: useful Smartphone Apps

    2. I’m waiting for one of them to get shot on film and the shooter not convicted because it was justified self-defense.

    3. Here’s one for you:


      and here’s the clip in question:


      1. They got busted by someone who was filming across the street, right? I’d like to see someone have their phone smashed or wiped only to have the data already uploaded. It’s only a matter of time but hasn’t happened yet AFAIK.

        1. Correct. I misunderstood your first point. But, it was the appearance of this on Youtube that got the whole investigation rolling.

    4. And a reminder to cops about rights:


  6. “You want to film something, bitch? Film this,” he yelled.

    Hey, Bal’mer isn’t called “Charm City” for nothing.

    1. The difference between a successful business man and a jailed gang leader is the ability to shut the fuck up apparently.

  7. Until I started paying attention, I didn’t realize The Wire was a documentary.

  8. Bigorati gonna bigorate.

  9. Anyone seen Dunphy lately?

    1. He said his piece regarding the Bakersfield murder last week. Sadly, he didn’t appear for yesterday’s PM links to give his thoughts about whether the .05 BAC recommendation for drunk driving still fits his “bright line” narrative. Something tells me it might just, just as the .1 limit probably did when that was enforced. Arbitrary all the way down.

  10. Arizona Man Winds Up Jailed, Unemployed and Homeless After Photographing Courthouse


    If course it was his own damn fault for walking around at 3AM. That’s guaranteed to get the attention of the police, and once you have their attention your day is going to get worse.

    1. He was asking for it, walking around like that, presuming innocence.

    2. I still have yet to hear any coherent reason why taking pictures of things that are publicly visible is in any way suspicious or threatening.

      1. According to the anti-terrorism training they give me here at work, taking pictures of government buildings is something that terrorists do before they make plans to blow it up.

        Considering all the government buildings that have been blown up by terrorists who took pictures first, I can understand how anyone who is seen taking pictures of a government building should be considered to be a terrorist.

      2. Somehow I’m sure it boils down to officer safety. NO clue how, but I’m sure they rationalize it that way.

      3. Can you not comprehend the word terrorism? I mean, even said in a high pitched squeal it’s pretty easy to understand.

  11. This kind of crap pisses me off. The cop who smashed the cell phone should be charged with tampering with evidence or whatever the relevant Maryland Penal Code charge is. And if he used excessive force, then whatever charges stem from that too.

    GOOD COPS, as Gillespie said back in the day about most cops supporting people with cameras, should have no problem being filmed. I like it, personally. Hey, the camera loves me 🙂 and it offers me protection from false complaints.

    The cop who smashed the camera is a thug and in addition to criminal charges should of course be fired… AFTER due process of course

    Cops should operate under the assumption that they are being filmed at all times (except maybe while using the bathroom in the station… although my former agency IA unit had no problem setting up video cameras in the locker room to try to sting one of us into a theft case after leaving a $20 bill on a locker bench, but I digress).

    Any cop who would smash the cell phone camera of somebody recording them is a thug, pure and simple. He sullies the badge and he pisses me off.

    1. If good cops existed then they would do something about bad cops. The fact that they do not is proof to me that they do not exist.

      1. Same with the Muslims.

        1. derp

      2. Any cop who knows of another cop who breaks laws or rules or regulations and does nothing about it because of the thin blue line crap is also a bad cop.

    2. Dunphy, when other people are suspects in a crime, they go to jail and then have to either rot or bail themselves out.

      Why are LEO’s treated differently? There is no answer for that because there is no good answer, only smoke and mirrors.

  12. Eventually bystanders will stop shooting film.

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