There was a Pennsylvania family who found themselves at the mercy of a few local cops who were acting aggressively toward them. When the mother saw that the situation was escalating, she decided to pull her cell phone out and record.
Usually at that point, the police do one of two things. Either they shape up and leave, or it makes them angry and belligerent. In this case, it just made things worse.
But at the same time, it’s a good thing the woman recorded the incident, because that’s the only thing that will confirm the family’s story, which is the basis of their lawsuit against the three cops and the department to which they belong.
Their lawsuit stems from an incident back in February when the husband Michael Gaymon’s mother came to visit them in Collingdale, Pennsylvania. His mother’s car was partially parked on a neighbor’s curb. Apparently, that was behavior that warranted getting the police involved, because that’s exactly what the offended neighbor did. He (or she) called the police. So, three cops showed up to the scene of the “crime” to settle the issue.
Immediately, the police were aggressive and confrontational, accusing the family of spitting on their neighbor, a false accusation likely told by the disgruntled neighbor himself.
The lawsuit accuses the officer of getting within inches of Mr. Gaymon’s face while screaming at him. “His behavior was so aggressive that the first thing I thought was to pull out my phone and video,” Mrs. Gaymon said.
Mrs. Gaymon began to record the officer as she stood outside her front door. The lawsuit claims the officer noticed her recording and walked toward her, demanding that she stop.
“He told me that if I continued to video he was going to come in my house and confiscate my phone and place me under arrest,” Mrs. Gaymon said.
According to the lawsuit, the officer told Mrs. Gaymon she couldn’t record him because it violated Pennsylvania’s wiretap statute. Mr. Gaymon and the couple’s 21-year-old daughter Sanshuray Purnell told the officer he was wrong however and that she had the legal right to record. The lawsuit states the officer then told Mrs. Gaymon that if she didn’t stop recording him he would enter her home, take away her cellphone and arrest her.
After Mrs. Gaymon refused to let him inside the home, the officer allegedly moved towards Purnell, handcuffed her and threatened to use his taser against her. Mrs. Gaymon says a second officer then escorted Purnell away from the scene.
The first officer then allegedly entered the home, ignoring the couple’s demands that he not come inside.
The lawsuit accuses the officer of grabbing Mrs. Gaymon, pushing her against the wall and holding his taser against her chest.
“I panicked,” she said. “I was scared.”
The lawsuit states the second and third officers then placed Mrs. Gaymon under arrest and removed her from the home.
Mrs. Gaymon and her daughter were taken in separate vehicles to the Collingdale Police Station. Cellphone video shows Gaymon’s 10-year-old son sobbing as officers take her and her daughter away. The mother and daughter were held at the Collingdale Police Station and later received citations for disorderly conduct.
“The actions that are described in the citation are for videoing the officer,” said the family’s attorney Jonathan Fienberg. “It’s not a crime.”
The only disorderly conduct was what we saw from these officers.
We can use the police’s usual rhetoric toward us against them: What do they have to hide? Is there something they’re nervous about? If they haven’t done anything wrong, then there’s no reason to be nervous or afraid of being recorded, right? Isn’t that what they’d tell us?