Friday, July 18, 2008

"The deputy said he feared for his life."

Reported on

A man was arrested in Tennessee for using his cell phone to take a picture of a policeman.

In his statement the officer says that he saw a red light (he thought it was a laser) pointing at him and another officer. A man (later identified as Scott Conover) said "Smile, I'm going to take your picture." Then he took a picture and drove off.

The officers pulled him over and insisted that he delete the picture from his cell phone. He refused to do so, so they arrested him, telling him that it was against the law to photograph a law enforcement officer.

Officer Kenneth Lane's handwritten statement can be read
here. It's pretty entertaining reading on its own.

Here is the statement of a third officer who was called to the scene and witnessed part of the spectacle, including the part where Conover yelled to his daughter to take pictures of the policemen who were harassing and threatening him.

And here is the affidavit of complaint showing the laws under which Conover is being charged:

"39-16-515. Pointing a laser at a law enforcement officer" (a Class A misdemeanor) and "39-17-305. Disorderly conduct" (a Class C misdemeanor) and "39-13-605. Unlawful photographing in violation of privacy" (a Class E felony).

It is that last one that is most interesting: "It is an offense for a person to knowingly photograph, or cause to be photographed an individual, when the individual is in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the prior effective consent of the individual, or in the case of a minor, without the effective consent of the minor's parent or guardian if the photograph: (1) Would offend or embarrass an ordinary person if such person appeared in the photograph; and (2) Was taken for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of the defendant."

It will be interesting to see if they can make that one stick. First, they'll have to prove that the police officers were in a place where they could reasonably expect privacy. Second, they'll have to prove that Conover wanted the pictures for sexual gratification.

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