Ass. Police Chief arrests CT man for filming cops with iPhone, confiscates and deletes videos

Ass. Chief Ariel Melendez (left) and Chief Frank Limon (right)

Another day, another case of abuse of power by cops unwilling to have their public police activities filmed by passersby with an iPhone, Android, or any other video recording device. This time around, we bring you the story of a Connecticut man who was recently arrested by New Haven Assistant Chief of Police Chief Ariel Melendez for the alleged crime of “disturbing the peace.” According to reports, Luis Luna was convicted of the crime after being approached by Officer Melendez, who asked Luna to stop using his iPhone to videotape police officers breaking up a fight on College Street. Luna also claims that the officers involved in the incident proceeded to delete the videos that he had just recorded with his iPhone.

According to the police report, Ass. Chief Ariel Melendez ordered the arrest of Luis Luna. “He began taking pictures and filming. Asst. Chief Melendez approached Mr. Luna and asked him to leave as well as stop filming. Mr. Luna did not do so. Therefore, Chief Melendez instructed me to arrest Mr. Luna,” wrote arresting officer Fitzgerald.

It’s not clear how using his iPhone to film police breaking up a fight is considered “interfering with police,” but that’s the charge for which Luna was handcuffed and placed in jail. What is clear, is that cops are clearly uncomfortable having their public actions filmed by citizens who, in most cases, have done nothing wrong (other than using their smartphone to record video). Even Melendez’s boss, Chief Limon agrees that filming official police activity is not a crime. “It’s not our policy to arrest people for filming,” Chief Limon is reported as saying by the New Haven Independent. “As a general principal, it is not illegal to video.”

Luna says that he was arrested and placed in jail for a night on charges of “interfering with police.” He also claims that cops confiscated his phone, claimed to not know anything about his iPhone, and later returned his phone with his recently recorded videos deleted from memory. He was later advised by the city’s District Attorney that he would drop the charge against him and instead charge Luna with the lesser charge of “public disturbance” – for which Luna had to pay a fine and officially admit to guilt.

We’re hearing more and more these days about abuses of power, arrests, and civil rights violations committed by law enforcement on citizens pointing their handsets’ camera lenses in a cop’s direction. Rather than staying true to their oath to serve the public good and uphold the law, it seems some law enforcement officials are afraid of getting caught with their crooked hands in the unlawful cookie jar by citizens armed with smartphones/cameraphones.

The problem, it seems, is that “Police are not used to ceding power, and these tools are forcing them to cede power,’’ according to David Ardia, director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society’s Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard University.

What say you, law abiding smartphone/cameraphone user? Should there be laws protecting citizens’ rights when filming police activity in a non-interfering manner?

This video shows New Haven cops intimidating a citizen recording police breaking up a fight:

[Via: NewHavenIndependent]

  • Guest

    Heard of the 4th amendment, anyone? Is that a real thing?

  • There are people employed as police that are not nice people. They get into police work because of the influence (power) they may be able to wield. In many states hiring requirements do not include polygraphs, background investigations, psych exams.The east-coast and the south n the US are particularly bad. If all is as stated, the ACLU will get involved and sue the asses off these fools.

  • Guest

    Sad thing is this guy probably pays the taxes that let scum bag cops like these retire with full pensions after twenty years then do it again with another police force. These white welfare jobs were only for those who couldn’t get a real career. Now the wanna be cop employment line is out the door. As long as the media supports their “state of fear” they get away with …..

  • Jolivetti7

    Its funny how the government can stick their damn cameras anywhere they want to ticket cars going through lights. I want publicly accessible cameras in every government office, and if an office touches a citizens phone and deletes video they need to be immediately fired.

  • Guest

    Until there are either 1) laws preventing police from doing this or 2) a huge public backlash this will continue to happen. Some states actually have laws on the books that ALLOW police to do this. It is ridiculous.

  • Salt

    I would advise he file suit for destruction of property, and unreasonable search/ seizure. Courts have ruled previously that 1) Digital files constitute physical property, worthy of reimbursement, and 2) illegally searching or accessing another person’s phone is a form of search/seizure that requires a warrant.

  • Crankman44

    Dude, you’re living in the past! The constitution is dead. Don’t question authority and you’ll be ok. They know what their doing.

    • stoli89

      Interesting how the groups screaming loudest to protect our Constitutional Rights are the very one’s most eager to take them away. Warrant-less wire-taps, illegal searches and seizures, suspensions of Writ of Habeus Corpus, undeclared wars, etc. Just keep watching Glenn while keeping your eyes off the ball. About the time that you finally get it, they’ll have saved the best for last and removed your second amendments rights too. Lambs to slaughter 101.

  • fuck the police!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    And they wonder why so many of us rejoice every time some stupid cop gets clipped in the line of duty!

    • Guest

      You are an ignorant and disgusting human being.

      • AntiGuest

        He’s just venting you idiot. There are a lot of people who say things like that because they have been abused by cops. Of course not every cop is bad but stuff like this makes people say things. As if him saying it going to affect an outcome either way. pious people like you disgust me.

      • pepster1

        if you think he’s an ignorant and disgusting human bieng, you got some ‘learnin to do.

    • Anonymous

      @ tongteets –

      Rejoicing about someone getting killed in the line of duty is psychotic. Get some help you need it badly.

      • Ap3604

        Well you need to tell that to our entire armed forces since they seem to enjoy killing civilians. WikiLeaks

  • Unknownorigins

    Thats why you should use apps like J.TV that automatically stream and save the vid online!

  • Anon

    How is that even phrased as a question? Thomas raises excellent points as well, if we the people can expect to be captured on dozens of cameras on the way to buy a gallon of milk then it seems obvious that police operating in an official capacity should be should have their actions recorded as well. Hell, they put cameras in their own cars! So let’s use the logic that they so love to use on the American people: If you aren’t doing anything wrong, Officer, then you have nothing to hide!

  • Test

    if this is true, it is disturbing.

  • Guest

    Cop should be charged with destruction of evidence.

    • stoli89

      ..and false arrest…and illegal search and seizure…and destruction of property. At a minimum, the Assistant Police Chief should be fired and his pension offered as compensation to the wronged citizen. That would make the victim whole, IMHO.

  • Philihp

    In 50 years, Ariel Melendez’s and Frank Limon’s grandchildren will lookup their names and their first hit will be a story about their abuse of authority. That’s a legacy they can be proud of.

  • guest

    I’m sure there is a way to recover the video that was deleted. I would advise that Luis seek technical help, recover the data, post it online, embarrass the police and then hire legal counsel to sue them into the stone age. I’m sure there would be some lawyers who would take the case for free.

    They will only get away with it if we let them.

    • stoli89

      Next time record/stream directly to a web site like Qik. The police would need a court order to get to the material. Good luck with that.

  • We need a revolution up in here!!!

  • suicideluvkitty

    i guess they should have been using qik or some other streaming video upload service. so by the time they arrest you it’s already online.

  • IcyDeadpeeples

    That is why smartphone owners should get an app like Qik, the video is automatically uploaded, password protect your account and they can’t destroy the evidence. Oh, by the way, the assistant chief should be arrested for tampering with evidence. And should be fired.

  • No

    If any of my kids grow up to be police officers I’ll disown them. They create nothing, contribute nothing and are good at nothing else. Wife beating, drunken brutes.

  • Miboweca

    I was arrested for trying to film cops giving me a ticket. It’s a shame when we have to completely submit to overly aggressive officers who want nothing to be more than the judge, jury, and jailer whenever they catch you doing anything, even breaking lowly traffic laws.

  • Guest

    honestly it was like the cop had something to hid. idkk.

  • ggloic

    Pigs, it’s a terrible police state that we live in where cops can totally abuse peoples rights like that. He wasn’t doing anything illegal, I hope those cops get beat down one day, f you!

  • Ha ha! Ass Chief!

    • Anonymous

      Well, one *could* interpret it that way 😛

  • Warrior_of_the_azure_sky

    Some states have enacted laws that make illegal to film or photograph police while they are performing their duty. Therefore, by law it is possible that these officers were acting accordingly and the author of this article is a complete idiot.

  • non iphone user

    Soon cams will post to you tube immediately or live stream. This will have a Rodney King/Oakland BART shooting like effect on more cops and more arrests. What needs to happen is the bad cops need to be fired. On the other hand people need to learn that if you dont do what the cop says on the street you will be arrested. By one cop or 50. your choice.

  • guest

    this happening in russia?

  • michaelj

    there are laws protecting the right to do things like that.The police and courts are out of control and its time we take our country back.Yes i did say our…they are servants of the people yet they abuse us and we fear them.what is wrong with this picture.they have no accountability and go way beyond there rights of serve protect and uphold the law.they think they are the law and i cringe when i see one.They are a cancer in today’s society.stand up,file a criminal complaint and sue the shit out of them.you have rights…for gods sakes people this is america. Take your country back NOW !!!!!

  • thinker

    They shouldn’t have taken the phone and arrested the dude, but ppl are getting a little carried away with posting images and videos without consent. Without proper context someone can exploit a situation on the internet and paint a regular arrest as a civil rights violation. I don’t want anyone to post a image/video of me without my consent, why would they? Everyone has the right to privacy.

    • stoli89

      Sorry, the right to privacy while performing a public service and while on PAID duty should not require the same permissions as that of a private citizen in a private setting. A police officer performing an arrest should be something reportable to the public in just about any circumstance. IMHO.

  • stoli89

    As more and more smartphones make it to the market and recording directly to the web becomes more popular (e.g.Qik.com), the power will shift even further to the people. Imagine if only 3 people were recordning this event and each was streaming the video directly to the web. The police cannot prevent the material from going viral, even if they steal the phones.

  • Mustang

    Lets see if you like it will when we record you playing with your boy friends. You cant handle authority so you want to destroy it. They could have come into that club wearing drag and laughing and those sissy Yalieswould have had a problem

  • Nick

    It’s pretty obvious that the officers involved were guilty of being too heavy-handed, and were worried that the videos would lead to bad PR if seen publicly. So they use their power to cover up their questionable methods. Cops have been doing stuff like this in every country for a long time. Oppression and abuse of authority are nothing new.

  • M09952

    cops are scumbags

  • M09952

    cops are scumbags

  • Sourhaze201

    i was recently arrested for the same thing i plan on sueing ….

Back to top ▴