November 25, 2012
A California man was jailed for four days for attempting to record police officers on a public street.
Daniel J. Saulmon was charged with resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer but the video shows he was standing well out the way of a traffic stop and was only arrested when he failed to produce identification to an approaching officer.
And there is no law in California that requires citizens to produce identification. And even if there was, it would require the officer to have a reasonable suspicion that he was committing a crime.
But prosecutors have already dropped the charge against Saulmon as well as a few other minor citations relating to his bicycle such as not have proper reflectors on the pedals.
And they most likely knew who he was considering he won a $25,000 settlement from the same police department after they unlawfully arrested him on eavesdropping/wiretapping charges in 2005.
This time, it appears the Hawthorne Police Department will be dishing out much more, thanks to officer Gabriel Lira’s abuse of authority.
“They knew exactly who I was,” Saulmon said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Saturday, adding that he has recorded them on a regular basis since the 2005 arrest when he was jailed after attempting to file a complaint inside the police station.
“They always address me as ‘Mr. Saulmon’,” he said.
Judging by his Youtube channel, which is filled with videos of police officers from Southern California jurisdictions, his latest arrest was an obvious case of retaliation.
The arrest took place on November 8, a Thursday, close to midnight. Because it was a holiday weekend, he would have had to wait until Tuesday to see a judge. He bailed himself out on Monday with a $1,000 he did not want to spend.
It took police a week to return his camera and his bicycle, and only after his attorney sent them a letter informing them that they had no legal basis to maintain possession of his personal property.
Even though he is still facing a citation for not having a headlight on his bicycle, he says he has video evidence from when he picked it up that shows it had two working headlights.
Saulmon is not one to be deterred by their abusive behavior. On the day after his 2005 arrest, he walked back into the Hawthorne Police Department to file a complaint with a hidden recorder that reveals he was nearly stripped searched in the lobby as you can hear in the video below.
The irony of that arrest is that they based their evidence on a secret recording one of the officers had made.
For more information on this story and other First Amendment issues, visit Photography Is Not A Crime.