Yesterday we posted a story suggesting that the police are under pressure to respect constitutional rights, now that so many people are photographing their activities (especially at protests.)
But along comes this video of an Oakland policeman shooting the photographer for no obvious reason. The photographer, identified by the San Jose Mercury News as Oakland resident Scott Campbell, was filming the line of riot police last Thursday from a distance of about 50 feet. The police had moved in after Occupy Oakland protesters had defaced a nearby building, but the scene photographed by Campbell appears mostly calm.
As Campbell walked parallel to the line of police, the camera’s audio recorder picks up his voice asking, “Is this OK?” After about 30 seconds, one of the police fires a non-lethal projectile at Campbell, hitting him. As he falls, he cries out in pain and then says, “He shot me!” before the video cuts off.
The video, posted on YouTube and the tech site boingboing.net, prompted a news report in today’s San Jose Mercury News.
Campbell explained to the San Jose Mercury News that he asked “Is this OK?” because police had told him he was too close, so he had stepped back five or 10 feet. After he stepped back, he started filming.
Campbell was struck in the upper right thigh by the projectile. He told the San Jose Mercury News, “Since then what I’m really wondering is what was going through that person’ s head that made him think it was OK to shoot another person with a less-than-lethal weapon for doing absolutely nothing wrong.”
The newspaper quotes a criminal justice expert saying, “Unless there’s a threat that you can’t see in the video, that just looks like absolute punishment, which is the worst type of excessive force.”
The Mercury News said police and city officials did not respond immediately to emails seeking comment.
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