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?