A Washington D.C. police officer is under scrutiny for allegedly intimidating a citizen recording him and several of his fellow officers as they physically restrained a man.
Before proceeding, please note that BizPac Review is not against the men and women in law enforcement.
According to a video posted Sunday on his YouTube page, Andrew Heining was about 50 ft. away recording the incident when two officers approached him.
An officer identified as C.C. Reynolds asked Heining if he wanted to be part of the investigation. Heining replied that he didn’t, prompting the officer to say: “I’d suggest you pack up and go.”
According to Legal Times, as a result of a lawsuit, the D.C. police department issued a general order in July 2012 recognizing the general public have a First Amendment right to record officers while they are “conducting official business or while acting in an official capacity in any public space, unless such recordings interfere with police activity.”
As seen in the video, Heining was a clear distance from the “crime scene,” and explained that he was on a public sidewalk when asked to leave.
“This is not public,” Reynolds countered, adding that if Heining was going to continue recording then he would become part of the ongoing investigation.
Other officers approach and they continue to give Heining a hard time about being there and recording their activity, eventually forcing him to move to the very end of the block.
With the advent of camera phones, police officers are in a precarious position when interacting with the public and should assume they’re being recording at all times — which the courts continually reinforce is legal to do.
In fact, many departments are getting out in front of this tendency by installing dash-mounted cameras to record activity, and more and more, body-mounted cameras placed on the officers themselves.
And while there are many instances where officers are roundly condemned when eyewitnesses refuse to follow reasonable requests, this could be one case where the officers involved hurt their own cause.
So much so that Heining feels he is owed an apology.
“I don’t appreciate the intimidation tactics Officer Reynolds used to try to bully me into leaving,” he wrote on Youtube. “I believe the D.C. Police Department should apologize, reprimand Officer Reynolds, and work to ensure that its officers understand the rights of the public.”
You can see the full interaction here: