LAPD vs. Photographers
When photographer Shawn Nee began taking photos around Los Angeles, he never thought that his camera would get him in trouble with police.
Nee has been shooting the sights of Los Angeles for years, but he has also been repeatedly detained for doing his job. He has never been charged with a crime. In the latest incident, police took Nee to the police station after he photographed them from 90 feet away. Nee’s case is just one example of the tense between some LA cops and photographers.
“There have been a number of times that I’ve been detained for taking pictures. For all types of different reasons,” Nee said.
Most recently, Nee was taken to a Hollywood police station after photographing officers from nearly 100 feet away. Body cameras that Nee wears show he was quite a distance from the apartment building that police were responding to. Officers detained Nee, however, claiming the photographer was interfering with police work
“I was handcuffed to a bench, brought to an interrogation room. I invoked my right to remain silent. I requested my lawyer many times. All of which were ignored,” Nee said.
This is not Nee’s first controversial detainment by an LA cop.
Previously, Nee was taking photos at a subway station when he was confronted by a Los Angeles County Sheriff deputy. Nee was handcuffed by the deputy who insinuated the photographer could be complicit in terrorism.
Nee has filed a federal lawsuit against the department, claiming they violated his rights. Two other photographers are also part of the suit. They say they were also detained by LA County deputies while taking pictures in public places.
“Anytime they use these types of tactics against citizens who are simply trying to cover what they’re governments are doing, especially when its public, yhat’s unconscionable and it needs to stop,” said Steven Silverman, founder of Flex Your Rights.
Then there is the case of Tyson Heder. He was violently arrested by the LAPD during a raid on Occupy LA.
“The days where police officers can get away with this sort of abuse and lying, those days are simply over, because there are cameras everywhere,” Silverman said.
Heder beat the charges of resisting arrest and assault. He is now moving forward with a civil suit against the Los Angeles Police Department.
“People have the right to observe, have the right to document. We have the right to share the truth,” Nee said.
Nee now avoids some parts of Los Angeles for fear of running into overzealous deputies. A consequence of what some photographers call a violation of their constitutional rights.