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Annapolis, MD Police Officer James Spearman Threatens and Tries to Intimidate Citizen Legally Filming

The following post and video were shared with the CopBlock Network by Landon Tomsa, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

The following post is fairly self explanatory. The person who submitted it states that they saw an Annapolis City police officer, James Spearman, parked illegally while having some unspecified interaction with a woman. Shortly after, Officer Spearman aggressively approaches Tomsa and begins filming with his own cell phone.

As anyone who has filmed the police knows, this is actually not an unusual reaction by cops. They often project their own displeasure at being filmed onto the people legally filming them and think they’ll  “show them” by filming them back. Generally, Cop Blockers don’t mind being filmed and it amounts to a whole lot of nothing.

However, in the case of Officer Spearman, as can be seen on the video, he acts very aggressively and purposely invades Tomsa’s personal space (something that would get a citizen arrested) in order to harass and intimidate him for exercising his legal right not only to film in public, but as has been affirmed numerous times in court, also to film public employees performing their duties.

Also on the video you can see several “Good Cops,” including Officer Kevin Freeman, show up after being called by Officer Spearman to back up his efforts to stop a citizen from exercising his legal rights. Initially, they remove Spearman from the area and pretend to be sympathetic to Tomsa’s valid complaint. However, when Tomsa begins walking away and Officer Spearman resumes his harassment of him, the other officers somehow don’t seem to notice, since they make no effort to intervene a second time.

Date of Incident: October 10, 2016
Officers Involved: Officer James Spearman Badge #2077, Officer Kevin Freeman, also multiple other officer who didn’t identify themselves.
Department Involved: Annapolis City Police Department
Department Facebook Page: Annapolis Police Department
Department Twitter Account: @AnnapolisPD
Internal Affairs Section:

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.

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Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

I would just like to start off by saying that my prior interactions with the law enforcement officers of the Great State of Maryland had been pretty good, overall. The Annapolis County Police have given me nothing but respect and even a little help in some situations with my filming of interactions with the police. For some reason though, it seems that the Annapolis City Police Department doesn’t do things quite the same way.

On the morning of October 10th, I got up early and, having the day off, decided to head to the state capital to see what was going on. After walking around for about a half-hour, I came across a police cruiser, which happened to be parked in a loading only zone. I noticed a woman interacting with a police officer, so I decided to film this attraction.

After a while, the woman left and the officer, after sitting in his car for a bit, got out and started approaching me. What transpired next is exactly what you see on the video.

Having pulled out his personal cell phone, he approached me continuously while trying to get a picture of me for some reason. Officer Spearman then chased me down a main thoroughfare in Annapolis about two blocks from where I originally started the interaction.

It was about at this point that other officers started arriving. The arriving officers then separated Officer Spearman and I. A second officer approached me and, as you can see in the video, I sort of explain the situation to him. A third officer, with a body cam, identified himself as Kevin Freeman. I found out later he was the commander for the Annapolis Police K-9 Division.

I explained the situation to him, he seemed to agreeably and professionally take my complaint about the officer and assured me it would be addressed. Unfortunately, as I was walking back towards the Capitol Building, Officer Spearman continued to follow me. He again began walking, unimpeded, away from the other officers, who had told me they wouldn’t let him do this.

As he was following me he made some very odd comments. I don’t know if you can hear them in the video, but one was, “now we’ll do a follow up with the Department of Homeland Security.” The other was, “We may have a lone wolf situation here.” Both ludicrous statements as you can tell from my reaction if the video.

I hope the public finds this video as informative as I did about certain officers within the Annapolis Police Department. And if anybody feels like expressing their own opinion to the Annapolis Police department, included are the public access, non-emergency numbers and email for their Internal Affairs Department, as well as links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Feel free to express your opinion, it is your right as much as filming them in public without having to be being harassed and intimidated is.

– Landon Tomsa

Just wanted to give a big thanks and a shout out to everyone involved at CopBlock.org. Though I have not been doing this very long, you guys have helped me immensely. Keep up the good work and let people know that Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights.

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Alberta Canada Checkpoint (Check Stop) Refusal and Assertion of Rights

The following video post was shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously by a reader, using the (very creative) pseudonym “Sub Mitter.” It was sent in to us via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

Although there was no description included with the video, it is pretty self explanatory. In the video, a man driving through a checkpoint (they’re called “check stops” in Canada) in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, where he is asked if he has been drinking and also to provide a driver’s license. He informs the officer conducting the stop that he won’t answer any questions. At that point the officer tells him to drive to a secondary inspection area.

The driver responds by asking if he is being detained. The officer says that he is and quotes a law that says he is authorized to determine if drivers have been drinking and also if they have a valid driver’s license. There’s then some back and forth about whether the police need to have a suspicion that a driver is drunk before they are compelled to submit to further investigation regarding that. Next, the driver asks if he is required to show a driver’s license without a requirement for suspicion. The officer replies that he is and the man then shows him his driver’s license.

Shortly after, and still without having answered the question about whether he had been drinking, the driver is released and continues on his way.

Date of Checkpoint: November 26th, 2016
Department Involved: Medicine Hat (Alberta, Canada) Police Service
Professional Standards Supervisor: (403) 502-8917
Department Facebook Page: Medicine Hat Police Service
Department Twitter Profile: @medhatpolice
Department Instagram Account: Medicine Hat Police Service

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

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.

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Key West Police Wrongfully Arrest Homeless Man Then Assault Him After Turning Their Body Cameras Off

The following videos were originally posted at the “Blue Paper” an independent newspaper located in Key West, Florida. All commentary included on the videos are those of a contributor to the Blue Paper. In addition, police reports and all body camera footage that are included within this post were acquired by contributors and/or the staff of the Blue Paper and subsequently submitted to the CopBlock Network.  Between the commentary on the video and the video itself this incident is actually somewhat self-explanatory.

Naja and Arnaud Gerard, the editors of the Blue Paper, originally received a video taken by a concerned bystander of a homeless man, who had already been restrained, being treated roughly by a pair of Key West police officers during an arrest. This arrest took place in February of this year and resulted from a trespassing complaint by the manager of a local Publix grocery store. The justification given for this “rough arrest” was that the man being arrested, Kristopher Knight, had kicked the window of the police car once he was placed inside.

That original video was described in a post on the Blue Paper:

The initial bystander video showed Mr. Knight screaming in pain while Key West police officers were handling him. His hands were already cuffed and his legs had been tied with some sort of leash [a hobble strap]. It was not clear what kind of resistance the short 25-year-old would still have been able to show the officers. The level of pressure used on Knight was disturbing for some of our viewers; others found it perfectly justified.

After that video surfaced, public records requests were used to acquire the police report filed by Officers Julio Gomez and Michael Chaustit that day, as well as their body camera footage from the incident. This provided the entire context of the incident from the time the officers first arrived to the time they left.

Interestingly enough however, by some amazing “coincidence” one portion of the arrest was somehow not captured by the officers’ body cams. This, of course, was the part where the officers have pulled Knight back out of the police car. In fact, the body cameras were able to capture everything up to that point and everything after Knight was placed back into the car perfectly fine.

Due to the convenient timing, a skeptical person might even be tempted to think the cameras were intentionally turned off at that key moment. Fortunately though, the bystander was there filming the police as they threw Knight around and twisted his already cuffed arms. Therefore, between the body cam footage and the bystander’ cell phone video, there’s a pretty complete visual record of what happened between Knight and the police that afternoon.

The full incident was described in the Blue Paper’s post:

footage showed Mr. Knight dozing, while sitting down in front of Publix at Key Plaza. One officer, Officer Julio Gomez, wakes him up, and inquires about his condition. He is obtaining reasonable answers and compliance from Knight who he continues to address politely.

Another officer however, Officer Michael Chaustit immediately breaks into foul language and a confrontational attitude. Knight is ordered off the property. He complies, but as he is walking and once he gets about 30 feet away, he yells loudly “Fuck y’all Motherfuckers!” Officer Chaustic is heard saying, “Nope!” Gomez asks: “You want to take him?” Answer, “Yep”.

Chaustit follows behind Knight. He orders “Stop!” Knight raises his hands over his head but keeps walking “Man I didn’t do nothing.” Officer Chaustit, who is twice Knight’s size, throws him into what appears to be some plastic drums then grabs him again and throws him, flying across the walkway, where his head stops inches from a cement column. From that moment on and at all times thereafter Chaustit uses one form or another of “pain compliance.”

The whole thing is captured by KWPD’s new body worn cameras, to one exception: the really disturbing scene, where Knight is completely restrained and yet constantly subjected to pain, that part, is not recorded. The footage however resumes immediately after, as Knight is being put back inside the police cruiser.

It’s pretty evident in the video who was the aggressor that day. From the time he arrived, Officer Chaustit is verbally abusive and confrontational, even when Officer Gomez is being fairly polite and Knight is being cooperative. Obviously, Chaustit is waiting for any excuse to arrest Knight and likely hoping for an opportunity to use force against him. Shortly after, when Knight yells, “Fuck y’all Motherfuckers!” Chaustit seizes his opportunity and proceeds to assault, arrest, and then once again assault him after pulling him out of the car.

Within their post, Arnaud and Naja Gerard also state they contacted Key West Police Chief Donie Lee, who subsequently ordered a review of the incident by the KWPD Professional Standards Department. As a result, according to a statement from Chief Lee, Officer Chaustit received some unspecified “discipline” for his actions (described as a reprimand in the Blue Paper’s post):

“We have concluded our review of the arrest of Kristopher Knight by Ofc. Chaustit on Feb. 4, 2017.  Although we believe there was probable cause for the arrest, we believe the arrest was based on an emotional reaction to provocation by Knight.  My expectation is that our officers always strive to maintain their professionalism and avoid attitude arrest. Ofc. Chaustit also didn’t use his body cam according to policy.  Ofc. Chaustit has been disciplined for his actions.  He is a good officer and has accepted responsibility for his actions. We have determined that the use of force in this arrest was within policy.”

The basic gist of that is “we found that Officer Chaustit probable cause (of which cursing at the police isn’t) to arrest Knight, but it was unprofessional of him to do so because someone had insulted him. And he violated department policy by turning his body camera off right before he assaulted Knight the second time, but Officer Chaustit is a Good Cop and promised not to do it again.”

The video shows otherwise, though. Officer Chaustit, like many of his “Brothas in Blue,” is a violent bully who was looking for an excuse to assault someone whose dangerous crime was coming onto someone else’s property without their permission and going to sleep. It’s not a situation that should require force against a person who is being compliant, even if they are being verbally defiant in the process, especially when Chaustit initiated the hostility himself. And in spite of his “acceptance of responsibility for his actions,” you’d be foolish to believe this was the first time Ofc. Chaustit unnecessarily used violence against another person, even more so if you believe it will be the last.

Full Video With Additional Commentary

Unedited Bystander Video

Bystander and Body Camera Videos Combined

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