Tocqueville Miles & Points has been given access to a video taken this weekend at the Darlington, SC. NASCAR race. At approximately 12:30AM on the morning of Saturday May 11, at the “Trackside Camping” campground owned by Steve Miles, a video journalist who was camping out to attend the NASCAR race noticed about 20-30 police quietly descend onto the campground property into the back of the campground. He followed them to understand what they were targeting and to document what was going on.
There were still dozens of campers still up, lounging around the campground.
As you will see in the video, taken with the anonymous video journalists Droid phone, the police are walking around the campsite, presumably looking for something or someone. When they notice the journalist, one Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) comes up to the journalist and without provocation asks the journalist if he wants to go to jail, grabs the camera from the journalist, shoves the journalist, and turns off the recording. The last thing that can be heard in the recording before it was shut down by the LEO was “that’s assault”!. After this, the LEO returns the camera to the journalist, and goes on his way. Shortly thereafter, the entire brigade of police left the property. No arrests were made.
Only a subset of the police that were on the property at the time are captured on this video. The action picks up at 0:50. It is difficult to ascertain the exact identity of the LEO who assaulted the journalist. Based on the evidence, potential civil or criminal crimes the LEO could face are:
- Unlawful seizure of property without a warrant;
- Unlawfully preventing a journalist from filming
What are your thoughts on this encounter? Was the LEO just doing his job? Or are there criminal or civil damages to be had? If the LEO was just a civilian and had done the same thing, would there be criminal or civil damages to be had? And why would 20+ police descend on a property, without a warrant or urgency?
If anyone has information on this assault by a LEO, including the offending LEO’s identify, please e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a good reminder that one should also record their interactions with police. Because we give them special powers amongst us, they should always be held accountable when they do wrong, and be given congratulations when do well. A video or audio of your encounter will help protect you should you come across a bad apple, or some other circumstances cause you to unfairly be accused of a crime you didn’t commit.