A woman whose cell phone was grabbed and smashed by a federal officer is considering filing a lawsuit over the incident.
Beatriz Paez was out for a walk on Sunday, in South Gate, a suburb of Los Angeles, when she says she spotted officers from several different law enforcement agencies ahead of her. Those officers had their weapons drawn, and pointed at the heads of several people who were lying on the ground, with their hands behind their backs. Paez decided to record the scene.
As Paez was recording with her cell phone, a U.S. Deputy Marshall approached her, knocked the phone out of her hand, and kicked it. The confrontation was caught by another bystander, who was recording from across the street.
The woman who recorded what happened to Paez does not want to be identified, but she was appalled by what happened. She tells Los Angeles’s NBC 4,
It was despicable. It was uncalled for. As soon as… when he snatched the phone away from her it actually startled me I got scared, I had to stop recording because… it was just too scary. This is a big man coming towards you with a big gun. It’s scary.
Here is the video the woman captured of Paez being assaulted by the deputy, via YouTube (caution, strong language):
Paez considers filing a civil rights lawsuit.
Paez’s attorney, Colleen Flynn, says that she plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit over the first amendment violation. “There was some police activity going on,” Flynn says. “My client was in no way interfering with that police activity. As long as you’re not interfering, you absolutely have a right to film police in public.”
There is no situation in which an officer can intentionally grab and destroy a camera being used to lawfully record law enforcement. The officer’s conduct is a blatant and deliberate violation of the Constitution and his duties as an officer to abide by the law.
Confrontations like this make you wonder a couple of things. First, why are police so afraid of being recorded while doing their job? And second, if some police officers are unaware that it is legal for citizens to record their activities in public, do we have a large number of police who are unfamiliar with other laws as well?
Here’s a report, via NBC 4:
Featured image via YouTube screen capture