Tag Archives: Imperial Valley

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.

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

Cop Enters Home Through a Window Without a Warrant

The following post was sent to the CopBlock Network, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page by Paula Urquidez.

Date of Incident: July, 11 2012
Officers Involved: Senior Officer John Moreno, Officer Peraza, Officer Lyons
Department Involved: Imperial Valley Street Interdiction Team (IVSIT) and Calipatria Police Department
Contact Phone Number: (760) 355-1058

Screenshot_2015-12-28-09-39-10On July 11, 2012 at approximately 9:30 AM, I was awakened by loud banging on my front door and my windows. I walked to the living room to see what was going on. As I  approached I could hear an unidentified male voice saying”open up its the police”.

I went to my kitchen window in an attempt to see what was going on. As I looked out, I saw a pewter Tahoe and a silver mini van.  I did not see any official vehicles or police units. At that time I made the conscious decision not to open the door, as I was fearful that it might be a home invasion attempt and my children were asleep in their rooms. It was my instinct to protect my children.

I stayed in the kitchen analyzing the situation. After approximately 20 minutes, I heard a male voice, later identified as John Moreno, senior officer for the Imperial County Narcotics Task Force and Street Interdiction Team, state “I have CPS here and we are not leaving until we talk to you.”

There was silence and then I heard someone fidgeting with the living room window screen. I once again panicked because through my education & professional experience I know for a fact that it is not customary for law enforcement to enter a home through a window. He proceeded to remove the screen and slide open the window. He lifted the blinds and stated, “its messy but I’ve seen worse, its fresh in there”.

The house was quiet, no TVs no talking, and he could not see me standing in the kitchen. He then called my children by their names, “Alexis, Estevan, Richard, we need to talk to you.” The children did not respond. He then pulled his head out, dropped the  blinds, and spoke to the other male, later identified as Officer Peraza. At this time, a third male voice could be heard approaching and he stated,”what’s going on here.” I could not understand what was being said as they lowered their voices.

I then heard the  blinds moving and I could tell that someone was entering my home.  I wanted to call 911, but I did not have my cell phone with me and I do not have a house phone.  I was paralyzed with fear and a million  thoughts ran through my mind.  I knew I had to protect my children, yet I had no weapon. I was prepared to do whatever it took to ensure the safety of my children.

I turned to go into the living room at which time I observed a male  entering my home through the window. I startled him and he reached for his service weapon and drew it. I put my hands up to show I was not a threat.  He opened the door and a woman and another male in plain clothes entered. Now there was also a local town cop in uniform name Officer Lyons present.

I immediately informed him that he could not enter my home through the window. I stated, “You can’t do that, that’s illegal. Where’s your search warrant?” He stated, “We don’t need one we’re here to check on the children.” I said, “You didn’t know the kids were here. There’s no noise, there’s no danger, no crying.” He stated, “I saw a little girl. I didn’t know if she was home alone.”

Although when he first opened the window, he called my children by their names and he knew I had only one daughter. And being that he knew her name, it is obvious that he knew her age which was 14 at the time. So she was not little.

I then identified myself as having peace officer certification, “I’m 832 certified, I know my rights.” He stated, “You were standing there the whole time.” I replied, “yes.”  He stated,”What were you doing there? I should take you in for obstructing.” I replied, “I was protecting my children, I didn’t know who you were, and I didn’t see any official vehicles out front.”

They then asked who was in the home and I told them my friend Rudy. They immediately drew their weapons and began yelling for him to come out. They pointed the weapons in the direction of the hallway and I begged them not to traumatize my children as I heard the doors to the rooms open. My eight and nine year old boys walked out of their room and saw the guns pointing at them. I instructed them to go back into their room.

Rudy then came out with his hands up and was immediately placed in handcuffs. He was not under the influence of any substance and he complied with the officers. The children were illegally interviewed as it was done without my consent or another adult present. Officer John Moreno began sweating profusely while I was sitting on the couch being questioned, so much that he unattached the side velcro straps to his bullet proof vest.

The other two officers were searching my home. There was no evidence of abuse, neglect, or drug use in the home.  I voluntarily went to test for CPS and was never contacted by them regarding the results so obviously they were negative for drugs. All this done without a warrant. My civil rights were violated when my expectation of privacy was violated and my constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment were violated when the officer illegally gained access to my home through the window. Had I been weapons certified it is possible that I could have shot him thinking it was a home invasion and I would have been killed protecting my children.

I filed complaints with OIG, Special Litigations Division of Department of Justice, Civil Rights Violations Division at the White House, AND NOTHING CAME OF IT. I AM AND WAS DISGUSTED , WITH THE LACK OF SUPPORT I RECEIVED FROM A GOVERNMENT THAT I ONCE HAD SO MUCH FAITH IN…

– Paula Urquidez