A video went viral on social media this week which portrayed a social activist interfering with an arrest and accusing law enforcement officers of racial profiling.
In this video, a woman stopped to record a traffic stop involving a minority suspect and was confronted by Sgt. Dave Ernst of the Arizona State Gang Task Force, who she accused of racially profiling the minority suspect, to which he responded with some choice words and a threat of arrest.
See the encounter in the video below:
Person: Am I being detained ?
Officer: You were never detained!
*People are saying the officer was in the wrong and unprofessional because of his tone of voice. What y’all think? pic.twitter.com/RbpvOw5hoA
— Terrence K. Williams (@w_terrence) April 23, 2019
The details of what occurred before the video began are unknown, but the sergeant told the woman if she ever interfered with one of his officers in a traffic stop again, he would arrest her. He told her that she could record all she wanted, but had to do it from a distance and not walk up onto officers.
The sergeant told the woman to leave and began walking away, then the woman, unprovoked, asked if she was being detained.
“You were never detained,” Ernst turned back and told the woman.
She asked if the suspect was being detained, to which Ernst said was none of her business.
“I think it is my business,” the woman insisted, adding that it’s in her interest as a fellow human being.
“You have no interest in that traffic stop whatsoever,” Ernst said. “It’s none of your business-”
The woman then accused the officers of racial profiling, which visibly irritated Ersnt.
“Oh shut up with that crap,” Ernst said.
The woman insisted the suspect was being arrested because of their skin color.
“Wow, you are about as ignorant as I’ve ever met. Oh my God, go do something else. Go have fun. It’s Friday night, man. Don’t be such an idiot,” said Ernst before walking away for the last time on the video.
The First Amendment grants people the right to record the police as a way to protect the democratic process. More people have begun recording to deter police misconduct, according to the ACLU.
It is legal for citizens to publicly record police, as long as they don’t physically interfere with police duties.
Recording police in their duties is not allowed in all states when done secretly, nor is it allowed when committing offenses such as disorderly conduct, harassment, stalking, or trespass.
This article has been updated to clarify recording rights in law enforcement situations.