Video Shows Oakland Police Shooting Photographer

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.

Related story: Pictures of Photog’s Arrest Force Police Accountability

5 Responses to “Video Shows Oakland Police Shooting Photographer”

  1. Troy Freund Says:

    I”m looking forward to hearing what sort of excuse the police department uses on this. Geesh.

  2. Alan Schietzsch Says:

    Will the photographer or newspaper be laying the appropriate “Assault with a Weapon” charges?

    Unfortunately if no charges are filed, it’s tacit acceptance/approval of professional staff (journalists) being assaulted.

    Possibly also brings into play laws re: safety in the workplace and duty of care.

  3. Anthony Says:

    Why do we, as a PUBLIC, continue to allow this to happen without repercussions? If the officer who fired on the photographer can’t be identified, punish them all. I’d sue the hell out of them. I don’t care about excuses and no one else should. You can accidentally run over someone with your car, and while it still may be ruled an accident, you can still be charged with involuntary manslaughter. HOLD SOMEONE ACCOUNTABLE DAMNIT.

  4. Alan Schietzsch Says:

    PDN: There’s a story here – ask the question

    Will the photographer or newspaper be laying the appropriate “Assault with a Weapon” charges?

    If you’re journalists covering photography, follow up and cover it!

  5. brt Says:

    You can’t (or aren’t allowed to) prosecute police officers with the same statutes applied to citizens. Unless the higher-ups decide public outcry constitutes the need for the appearance of disciplinary action, nothing will happen. No one polices the police, and they are well aware of that. Perhaps it’s time that the public was allowed to elect their local Chief of Police?