Civil Liberties

Confidential LA Sheriff's Investigation Document Contradicts Video of Police Encounter; Full Video of Encounter


A confidential internal affairs report from July 2010 vigorously defends two officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department after they harassed and detained Hollywood street photographer Shawn Nee for taking photos, even calling Deputy Richard Gylfie's actions "laudable" after he threatened to put Nee on the "FBI's hit list." Today is the five year anniversary of the event.

But the full video, which is released below, of the incident contradicts some facts the report points out. Nee wears a body camera when he shoots and the entire incident was recorded from the time he left the subway car to the time he left the station after his encounter with deputies.

Gylfie says in the report that he detained Nee for proof of fare and Nee's suspicious photography of the transit system's entrance (Nee had taken photographs of the turnstiles.) The report claims Gylfie asked Nee for proof of fare as the encounter began, but the exchange that is noted in the report doesn't show up in the body camera video. From the report:

As Witness Gylfie and Deputy Bayes walked toward Mr. Nee, they stopped and checked other people's fares. Witness Gylfie told Mr. Nee, "Hey I need to see proof of fare." Mr. Nee appeared to ignore Witness Gylfie's request, so Witness Fylfie asked again. Mr. Nee ignored Witness Gylfie again, so he asked Mr. Nee why he was taking pictures in the subway system."

Nee's first photograph is at 57 seconds and it doesn't appear the officers asked him about his proof of fare. The first statement is "Sir, there are no photographs here," at 1:12 by Deputy Roberto Bayes. It isn't until the end of the video that Gylfie even asks about Nee's ticket at 16:39, after he had run Nee's identification and a warrant didn't show up. Metro issued special tickets on Halloween to accommodate the influx of more riders.

Additionally, the report claims that Gylfie and Bayes saw Nee in a "crouching position," but the video doesn't seem to show Nee crouching down to snap photographs (57 seconds). Here is the full version of the encounter without a section in the middle where Deputy Gylfie calls Nee's driver's license number into the station to conduct a warrant check:

For more on the incident and the background of law enforcement investigating incidents of suspicious activity, watch "LA County Sheriffs Hassle Photographer, Trample Constitution, Get Lauded by Bosses."