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New York, NY - Bratton: Onlookers Recording Police Actions Escalates Confrontations With Citizens

Published on: May 26, 2016 03:33 PM
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FILE - William Bratton, Police Commissioner of New York City speaks at a news conference in Times Square in the Manhattan borough in New York, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith FILE - William Bratton, Police Commissioner of New York City speaks at a news conference in Times Square in the Manhattan borough in New York, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

New York, NY - Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had harsh words yesterday for onlookers who film clashes between police and the public, saying bystanders often interfere in police business trying to intimidate officers, sometimes resorting to force to free prisoners.

Bratton’s words came Wednesday after a Manhattan conference between police chiefs and law enforcement executives as reported by the Daily News.

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Bratton described the phenomenon as an epidemic and said that in many of the clips he has seen, onlookers are intentionally stirring up trouble.

“You do not have the right to resist arrest and in so many of those videos, people are resisting violently and being encouraged by the crowd,” observed Bratton, who noted that the problem is not exclusive to New York City.

Bratton’s remarks came after he was asked about a video that showed a Harlem police officer pointing his gun at a group of people filming him with cell phones while he was attempting to arrest a man for interfering with a traffic stop.  A second video of the same encounter that took place on May 19th showed 26 year old Officer Risel Martinez punching one of those recording the scuffle.  Martinez has been stripped of his gun and badge in connection with the incident.

In addition to the high profile Eric Garner case, where cell phone video sparked a maelstrom of outrage, several other similar situations have surfaced in recent weeks. Two months ago, Lieutenant Luis Machado, part of an NYPD elite conditions unit, was disciplined after he and a group of officers under his supervision engaged in a heated exchange with postal worker Glen Grays after their unmarked car nearly struck Grays’ truck.  \

Grays was handcuffed, frisked and carted off to the station house as onlookers protested that Grays had done nothing wrong.  In another incident that took place in February, surveillance video captured Officer Ruben Cuesta, fatally shooting a pit bull who walked up to him wagging its tail while he was responding to a domestic violence call in the Bronx.

Bratton acknowledged that incidents like these occur infrequently but said that the public often eggs police officers on, hoping to catch them reacting inappropriately.  He is confident that a pilot program that will equip police with body cameras will provide a more accurate version of events.

Steve Cruz is a member of CopWatch Patrol which routinely films police interactions. he took umbrage at Bratton’s suggestion that onlookers deliberately incite violent clashes with police.

“We’re not mobs,” said Cruz.  “We are just people recording these incidents.”

Blaming onlookers for poor behavior by police is a desperate attempt by Bratton to shift the spotlight away from his officers, observed Cruz.

“Bratton is upset that this incident was caught on video,” said Cruz. “It’s hard to come up with an excuse and he trashes cop-watchers like myself, but everyone can see the officer was wrong.”


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Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 26, 2016 at 04:01 PM Anonymous Says:

I only read the headline, and my answer is that it also minimises police brutality

2

 May 26, 2016 at 04:10 PM Pragmatist Says:

Bratton is trying to muddle the facts by comparing persons videotaping police actions with interfering with police actions. The two are separate issues. No one has a right to interfere with the police while they are doing their work. However, in the USA, anyone has a right to video anything that they want in a public area, includes filming police personnel, as long as the filming is done from a distance that does not interfere with the police operations.

3

 May 26, 2016 at 04:25 PM curious Says:

In that video shot in Harlem the guy with the camera was obviously very close. I dont blame that officer one bit.

4

 May 26, 2016 at 04:49 PM Anonymous Says:

It's the only defense citizens have against crooked cops. Don't let them take it away.

5

 May 26, 2016 at 04:53 PM ben Says:

I filmed an incident this week, if it wasn't for me standing with a iphone the police would of knocked the living hell out of the goy. honestly I believe he deserved a beating the way he spoke to the cop but the law is the law.

6

 May 26, 2016 at 05:34 PM Anonymous Says:

What are they afraid of?

7

 May 26, 2016 at 05:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Pragmatist Says:

Bratton is trying to muddle the facts by comparing persons videotaping police actions with interfering with police actions. The two are separate issues. No one has a right to interfere with the police while they are doing their work. However, in the USA, anyone has a right to video anything that they want in a public area, includes filming police personnel, as long as the filming is done from a distance that does not interfere with the police operations.

You are 100% correct EXCEPT you are legally allowed to interfere with police actions if they are breaking the law. Also I have tried to film the police a few times and I get hassled by them in a big way. I am talking about filming from across the street or 50 feet away, etc. For some reason they don't like it. Can you guess what it is?

8

 May 26, 2016 at 06:00 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
curious Says:

In that video shot in Harlem the guy with the camera was obviously very close. I dont blame that officer one bit.

Are you serious? Did you see the police officer as he was walking away from the lobby of the building punch the guy in the face? How can you think that was legal or justified? So far they took away his gun and his badge. Do you think the NYPD takes away a police officers gun and badge when they think he did the right thing?

9

 May 26, 2016 at 06:00 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
ben Says:

I filmed an incident this week, if it wasn't for me standing with a iphone the police would of knocked the living hell out of the goy. honestly I believe he deserved a beating the way he spoke to the cop but the law is the law.

Did the police say anything to you about the fact that you were filming? You should post the video.

10

 May 26, 2016 at 06:30 PM Boroch Says:

I agree 100% with #2. Bratton must go!

11

 May 27, 2016 at 01:06 AM Eagle Says:

Not only should citizens be allowed to record police action, but there should be stiff penalties for police who intimidate citizens while they are legally recording.

12

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