Trooper Gets a Lesson on First Amendment Right to Video in Public from Knowledgeable Citizen

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Published on: January 30, 2016

A New York State trooper stopped a man who was videoing a detention facility with a drone in an attempt to violate the man’s rights, which are protected under the First Amendment. What he got instead was a humiliating lesson to not do it again.

Trooper D. M. Fougere approached the unnamed citizen and demanded that he identify himself. When the man refused based upon the law, which in New York states that and officer must have a reason to believe you have committed a crime, are about to commit a crime or there is evidence that a crime has been committed, the trooper appeared to get upset.

“Yes, you do,” said Fougere in response to the man stating that he didn’t need to provide his identification.

“No, I don’t,” the man replied.

“If I’m asking you who you are and why you’re videotaping our facility, you have to provide me with some kind of identification.” Trooper Fougere said.

He was then instructed in the law by the man as to when he can actually require someone to identify themselves.

The trooper still failed to identify a crime, but merely tried to assert that he was in the right to require identification based on the man filming the facility. He, once again, stated the man had to provide identification.

Though he was told that several officers had dealt with the issue, he said, “I don’t care who’s dealt with it because I want to know who you are right now.”

The man also cited a Supreme Court ruling that upheld the First Amendment and the right of the citizens to video in public, including video of police officers. I’ll note that there are new attempts at criminalizing videoing police. This would be an undermining of the First Amendment.

“Why do you feel you do not have to perform any form of identification,” the trooper said before being interrupted.

“Because that’s the law,” the man said.

“I want to know who you are and why you’re videotaping this right now,” demanded Fougere.

“You probably want to get a supervisor out here right now,” the man answered.

“Sure. Here’s my sergeant. He’s coming out right now,” said Fougere.

At this point, the trooper was backed up by another trooper, C. J. Maniscalco. Both men stood by as the sergeant arrived.

“Stop, stop, stop, stop,” said the sergeant to his officers. “It’s not a problem, not a problem.”

“He can videotape as much as he wants? He doesn’t have to give any identification?” asks Fougere.

“He can videotape. It’s not a problem,” replied the sergeant.

Trooper Fougere admitted he was wrong and the sergeant later stated that the drone issue was something new and had not been taught to the officers.

However, this brings us to question whether officers should be stopping people and asking them for identification when it is not within their ability under the law to do. They can’t just be doing that for “anything else,” as Trooper Fougere said. There must be a crime involved.

Many of us are ignorant of the law and little specifics, but I think this video is a great teaching tool for both citizen and police.

One thing is for sure, when officers know the law there is peace, something that they have been previously referred to as (peace officers). When they don’t, there is crime, but that crime is on their part. Citizens should know the law as well to keep ignorant police from breaking the law.

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