In cases of police harassment, it’s usually the victim’s word against the officer’s, however, one man’s video footage reveals what some are calling an abuse of power.
According to Photography Is Not a Crime, at roughly 30-feet away, Shawn Randall Thomas was recording a NYPD cop who had detained a man for jumping a turnstile in the subway station.
About four minutes in, an officer identified as “Rojas” takes notice of Thomas recording the arrest, to which he responds by walking up to Thomas and putting his phone directly in front of his camera lens to obstruct his view.
After Thomas tells the officer, “You’re violating my personal space,” Rojas quickly replies “You’re violating my personal space too.”
Thomas then requests the officer’s name and badge number, citing the NYPD’s “patrol guide”, to which Rojas refuses an answer.
The situation escalates when Thomas repeatedly tells the officer to back away. Rojas says, “This is my station,” and Thomas replies, “This belongs to the public and you’re a servant, and you’re disrespecting me and you’re harassing me.”
Shortly after, the video reads that Rojas began an “unlawful physical assault” on Thomas. Rojas then grabs Thomas’ arm, twisting it behind him and opening the camera’s battery compartment, removing the batteries and pocketing them.
But Thomas pulled out his Blackberry and attempted to turn it on to document how he had just been kicked out for video recording.
“He then knocked the phone out of my hand and slams me to the ground,” Thomas said. “Then he grabbed the back of my head and slammed it into the pavement.”
Thomas began yelling for bystanders to record, which prompted at least one man to record Rojas with his knees on Thomas’ back.
By the time Thomas had been released from jail, the man had tracked him down through Facebook and had sent him the video. Thomas used a downloaded program to recover the footage that was deleted from his camera.
Thomas faces charges of resisting arrest, trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing government.
Here is the entire police report: