Corey Maygard was on the street on Friday, August 10, 2012 and saw what he thought were Edmonton Police Service constables physically abusing a man. He pulled out his iPhone and started recording what he witnessed.
One of the constables came over and demanded that Corey stop recording them. Fine. The constable can make any demand he likes. That doesn’t mean anyone has to abide by his whims, his badge and gun notwithstanding.
The good constable has absolutely no authority in law to order a citizen to stop recording on a public street. The mere fact they don’t want their actions captured on tape is a pretty good indication they probably weren’t going “by the book.” Cops who aren’t doing anything wrong shouldn’t have anything to hide, right?
If their actions were legitimate, then you would think they would welcome video evidence of that. It would sure come in handy if someone filed a charge of police brutality, don’t you think?
Now I am NOT saying or even suggesting that the Edmonton Police Service constables that Corey Maygard captured on his iPhone were doing anything wrong. I have no idea if they were or were not abusing their authority.
What I do know is they have no right to order a person to stop recording them while they are performing their sworn duties. It is NOT a crime to videotape police. Not even when the cops themselves don’t like it.
“They had the one guy somewhat hog-tied behind his back,” Maygard said. “And they were dragging him.”
Maygard says one of the officers approached and told him to stop recording. He refused.
“He at that point turned me around, read me my rights,” Maygard said. “Took my phone. Turned the video off and arrested me for obstruction of justice.”
Corey Maygard then spent almost a full day in jail until he was released and all charges against him were ordered dropped by Crown Counsel the following Monday morning.
Big surprise! Recording police constables doing their job is not a crime.
What can be considered a crime is getting in the way of police constables who are doing their job while you are recording them.
There was a case recently in Vancouver where a man was charged with obstruction of justice because he wouldn’t move back to give the VPD constables room to do their job. He wasn’t ordered to stop recording, but he was asked to move back so the constables could deal with an unruly subject without worrying about the videographer just feet away from them.
When he refused he was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice. That’s absolutely fair. The police do have the right to ensure their own safety, and if that means ordering you back a few paces, so be it. From what I saw in Corey’s video, however, he was already well back from the scene; probably 30-40 feet or more. Hardly close enough to get in their way or cause them any legitimate concern.
Unfortunately many of today’s police constables believe their orders must be obeyed instantly and without question, and that is simply not the case.
Every Canadian has the right to record police interacting with citizens.
I would even go a step further and suggest that it is our duty to record police whenever the opportunity arises, for were it not for citizens recording police horribly abusing their power we would never have known the truth about Robert Dziekanski’s death at the hands of RCMP Corporal Monty Robinson and 3 of his cohorts or RCMP Constable Geoff Mantler’s brutal kick to the face of Buddy Tavares.
It is vital that citizens record police interaction with them. It is NOT a crime. It is, much to the dismay of some cops, our right.
Corey Maygard is glad he stood up to the cops, even if it caused him to be arrested and spend a night in jail.
“You’ve got to stand up for yourself, because if you don’t, no one else will.”
I couldn’t agree more, Corey.
Corey did finally get his cell phone returned to him. It only took a week. Surprisingly the video footage he shot was still on the phone.
I wonder if that would be the case if he’d actually filmed them doing something wrong?
are you turning soft on us ?? or are you being extorted by the canadian gestapo ?? lol.
you mention that the cops have the right to arrest people for obstruction of justice for videoing too near them ??
what is “too near” ?? 5 feet ?? 100 feet ?? 1000 ?? anywhere within the vicinity that the secret service are supposed to operate ?? anywhere inside a free speech zone ??
are you just trying to land a job in the jewish media ?? (:
the cops are the ones that take an oath to serve and protect, at least here in the usa; so if serving and protecting means supposedly “risking” their life by merely supposing that a person videotaping them is a threat to their security, then they should be willing to bear that risk in order to fulfill their duty and their own self-chosen career path and oath.
if not, they should quit their job and head over to mcdonalds to make us fries.
have a good afternoon !!
Christopher di Armani says
No, Jeff, I’m not turning soft. My position on police brutality hasn’t changed a bit. I still hate thugs with badges and guns who routinely abuse the rights of ordinary citizens as though we didn’t have any.
All I’m saying is there are legitimate times when a person being too close to the action, especially if it’s already a volatile situation, can distract police long enough for them to get hurt or killed. It doesn’t matter whether you’re filming them or not in those situations.
Cops like this thug in Edmonton needs to be charged criminally for violating the rights of this young man who did absolutely nothing wrong.
Not all cops are scumbags, even though some scumbags are cops. The same comment could be made of the general public like you and me. Not all citizens are scumbags, but all scumbags are still citizens.
Painting all of any type of person with the same brush inevitably leads to incorrect presumptions. Those incorrect presumptions can be made by cops or by us. Both are wrong and that’s what, I hope, I’m fighting to correct.
Jim Pook says
“I wonder if that would be the case if he’d actually filmed them doing something wrong?”
They did do something wrong – they arrested Corey Maygard without cause, something that I believe is illegal, even in Canada.
They used “color of authority” to intimidate him and arrest him while he had committed no crime.
These officers need to be trained that photography is not a crime. They also need to be disciplined for their unlawful arrest of Maygard. At least they did not erase the video – that would be destruction of evidence, yet another crime.
If you want to see how widespread this is, look up Carlos Miller’s excellent website Photography is Not a Crime (PINAC).
Christopher di Armani says
Thanks for that, Jim. The site http://www.photographyisntacrime.com/ is also excellent. No relation to Carlos Miller, though. Miller’s blog is http://www.pixiq.com/contributors/carlosmiller if anyone is interested in checking out either site (or both).
So what is happening now? Is there an investigation or anything?
Christopher di Armani says
Not to my knowledge, Candice. Charges against Corey Maygard were dropped like a hot potato and that’s the last I’ve heard.
Canadian Girl says
I’ve been reading Carlos’ site for along time, since before Pixiq. He writes, Austin police are trying to enforce a 50 foot rule for recording. However, he often relates information were people that aren’t recording are allowed closer than that.
I would defend my right to film as well as my right to remain silent (NEVER speak to police).
P.S. Found the link for your website from Ademo and Pete (http://www.copblock.org/), they running a story about Bill Berry.
This is disgusting, there is no Canadian Law that states the public can not record the police exercising his or her duties in public. In fact the police have no privacy rights when executing there duties in public. They can not force you to stop recording, if they do it would be a prima facie infringement on your charter rights. So long as you are not obstructing or getting in the way of them performing his or her duties. They can not ask for your recording device, or ask that you erase what you recorded. Some police may say that you are obstructing just by recording, as per a Supreme court of Canada ruling, merely videotaping a officer performing there duties in public does not constitute obstruction. It is your right to record if you so wish, if you are on ground controlled by you, ie, your car your property etc. You can record all you want and the police can not make you stop. These rights are not just reserved for the media, all citizens have this right. I hope this man launches a complaint or talks with a lawyer as his arrest is a violation of his Charter rights, section s.9 of the charter protects people from being arbitrarily detained or arrested. As his rights were violated from the start, he has solid grounds to take this further if he so wishes. there was no reason for the arrest, or seizure of his cell phone. From the start they the police violated his Charter rights.