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First Amendment Audit: Imperial County Sheriff’s Sgt John Toledano Unlawfully Detains Videographers Filming in Public

California Guardian High Desert Community Watch First Amendment Audit Illegal Detention

Imperial County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Toledano handcuffed and illegally detained “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch” during a First Amendment Audit by order of the FBI for legally filming in public.

Note: The video and description included within this post were shared with Nevada Cop Block via an anonymous reader submission. If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

As is mentioned in the description, this video shows what is known as a “First Amendment Audit.” That consists of going out and filming government buildings and other public property. Oftentimes, the police, security guards, government employees, and even members of the public don’t understand that the First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to take photos and/or record video of anything that is within view of a public place.

Obviously, this video is very much an example of that (commonly referred to as an “audit fail” among those who do them). After initially confronting them and asking for ID, Sgt. Toledano (along with two other unidentified officers) handcuffed the two men who go by the pseudonyms “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch” publicly.

Both of them were then forced to sit in the back of a police vehicle and threatened with trespassing citations, although they never at any time entered private property. According to what Sgt. Toledago states on the video, this illegal detention was at ordered by the FBI. Eventually, they were both released without any charges.

As already stated, you obviously can legally film in public. Also, you are not required to identify yourself unless a police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe you have committed, are in the process of committing, or are about to commit a crime (the requirement to be legally detained). And legally they can’t seize your camera (or any other personal property) unless they have actually arrested you or obtained a warrant or subpoena for specific content on it.

One of the main reasons for doing First Amendment Audits is to test whether the police or security officers understand the law regarding filming in public spaces. Also, part of that reasoning is making them understand that it is legal and thereby deter them from harassing people filming in the future.

Date of Incident: April 11, 2017
Officer Involved: Sgt. John Toledano
Department Involved: Imperial County (CA) Sheriff’s Office
Facebook Page:
Imperial County Sheriff’s Office
Twitter Account:

Instagram Account:
Imperial County Sheriff
Department Phone No.:
(442) 265-2005
Department Email: Sheriff Raymond Loera

Adam (California Guardian) and Phillip (High Desert Community Watch) were down in Imperial County video recording when a Deputy Sheriff, Sgt Toledano, stopped them and unlawfully detained them on behalf of the FBI for the sole intent of identifying them with no suspicion that they had violated any crime.

Adam and Phillip were cuffed, placed in the back of a patrol vehicle and driven down around the corner to await the arrival of the FBI. Adam and Phillip never provided identification and were released after being given detention slips in the name of John Doe.

Both detention slips used Calif. Penal Code 647 (h) – “prowling” – as an excuse. Adam and Philip never entered any private property and remained on the public right of way (sidewalk) during their recording.

The men in the video frequently post First Amendment Audits and other videos to their Youtube channels: “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch.” You can support them by making donations via GoFundMe: California Guardian and High Desert Community Watch News Network. Although they sometimes travel to other areas, as the psuedonyms they use indicate, these two auditors live in Southern California.

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Norfolk Constabulary Kidnap UK CopBlocker Marcus Potter for Publicly Filming Cops Outside a McDonald’s

The following post and accompanying video were shared with the CopBlock Network by Marcus Potter, a UK CopBlocker who has submitted numerous other videos (see “related posts” section below) to the CopBlock Network, as well. It was shared via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

In this post, marcus was legally filming several cops inside a McDonald’s. Soon after, a manager takes offense to him filming the inside of the store, even though it is clearly within public view from the outside. Also, in spite of his claim that they “can’t be filmed,”  that manager even states that they have cameras of their own inside.

Whether the fact he was filming the police is related to his complaint isn’t clear, but regardless of that, this complaint is used as an excuse by officers from the Norfolk Constabulary to first harass and demand ID from Marcus and then to illegally arrest him, when he refuses those demands.

If you have a video, personal story involving police misconduct and/or abuse, or commentary about a law enforcement related news story, we would be happy to have you submit it. You can find some advice on how to get your submission published on the CopBlock Network within this post.

Date Of Incident: February 2, 2017
Officers Involved: PCs Christopher Giddens #31 and Katie Swann #1161, Sgt. Daniel Smith #3427, Sgt. Youngs #174, and Sgt Willows #702
Department Involved: Norfolk Constabulary
Department Telephone No.: +441953424242
Department Facebook Page: Norfolk Constabulary on FB
Department Twitter Account: @NorfolkPolice

 

I was doing some CopBlocking in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK and had pointed my camera into the local McDonald’s, at which point a disgruntled member of staff (Steve) approached me and proceeded to whine about my filming. Sgt, Dan Smith 3427 approached Steve and asked if I was upsetting him or his customers. He explained that he wasn’t allowed to be filmed and that I was upsetting him.

At this point, another officer present, PC Christopher Giddens 31, got out a section 35 pad and Smith used Section 50 Police Reform Act 2002 to demand my name and address so that his colleague could issue me with a section 35 notice. I stood my ground and refused to give either officer these details, at which point Giddens arrested and then read the caution to me. Smith then handcuffed me and Smith then conducted a Section 32 PACE search. After this was concluded, I was then placed in the rear of Smith’s van by Giddens and he sat with me in the back whilst Smith drove us to Great Yarmouth Police Investigation Centre.

I was walked up to the holding area by both officers and took a seat whilst the custody sergeant became available. After about five minutes, the buzzer sounded alerting Smith and Giddens that the custody sgt. was available and I was taken to a charge desk where I was booked in by Sgt. Youngs 174 of the Suffolk Constabulary. I cooperated with most questions and provided her with my name (which I hadn’t been asked for prior to this point) but refused to provide my date of birth which she demanded from me using a number of threats.

Eventually, I was subject to a second search, which was conducted by PC Giddens. After this search was concluded, my bag was searched and all possessions were handed to Youngs, including my driving license that stated my date of birth and address. This information was entered onto the computer by Youngs. At this point, I expected to be released from my custody without charge and issued with a section 35 notice. However, I was taken to a cell for no apparent reason and my unlawful detention in custody continued for another six hours.

I was then taken to the charge desk by a police officer, at which point I was charged and released on bail to attend Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court with conditions “Not to enter Great Yarmouth except to attend court or for a prearranged solicitor’s appointment for reason to prevent further offenses on bail” by Sgt Willows 702 of the Suffolk Constabulary. I was then shown out of Great Yarmouth Police Investigation Centre and made my way home. I returned to court and pleaded “no case to answer” and was released on unconditional bail to attend my trial at Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court.

My custody records stated that the circumstances of arrest were: “DP has been at a location filming people outside and inside which has antagonized people & caused issues and was going to be given a sec 35 but refused details.” That my detention was authorized by Sgt Youngs 174 of the Suffolk Constabulary as being necessary for the following purpose: “To ascertain details as DP refuses to provide those details” and that the reasons the arrest was necessary were: “To enable the address of the person in question to be ascertained, per PACE CodeG 2.9 (b). To enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained, per PACE CodeG 2.9 (a).” It also stated that the arresting officer was PC Giddens 31, the same officer giving the account of arrest to Youngs, that the escorting officer was Sgt. Smith 3427 and that “The search was conducted by PC31 Giddens.” In relation to my unlawful handcuffing it stated: “Force/Restraint was used because front stack in roder.”

It later transpired from the video footage that PC Giddens spoke to his colleague, PC Katie Swann 1161 whilst Smith searched me and asked her to get a few lines from Steve stating that “distress” was caused by my actions. He explained that I had been arrested under “section 59” which in fact relates to the seizure of vehicles and is a section of the Police Reform Act 2002.

– Marcus D Potter

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