SAN DIEGO — A man using a cellphone to record a police officer giving him a ticket for smoking on a San Diego boardwalk spent a night in jail after refusing to give up his cellphone, which the officer said could be used as a weapon.
Adam Pringle pulled out his phone to videotape the officer writing him the ticket while another officer looked on. When the citing officer saw Pringle taping him, he asked him to put the phone away, based on footage of the incident posted to YouTube.
"No thank you," Pringle said. "I am in a public place. I have the right to film here."
The officer and Pringle argue about whether Pringle has the right to film him, before the officer says "cellphones can be converted into weapons" and to "look it up online" when Pringle expressed his disbelief.
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The two continue to argue as the officer approaches Pringle, who says "No!" just as the video stops.
Pringle posted the video to his Facebook page on Saturday and said he was "arrested for resisting arrest." He said he was charged with violating Penal Code Section 148: Resisting, Delaying or Obstructing an Officer, and that after the 7 p.m. incident, he was in jail until 4 a.m.
"I am going to fight this," he wrote. "These cops will be prosecuted for unnecessary use of force, unlawful arrest, not reading me my rights and verbal/physical harassment."
The San Diego Police Department issued a statement Thursday in response to the incident.
"Each person involved in this incident is entitled to due process," said Lt. Kevin Mayer, according to U-T San Diego. "The best way to ensure this is by completing a thorough, complete and impartial investigation. We take all complaints seriously."
Mayer said the police department was conducting an internal investigation into the incident and had reached out to Pringle for his statement.
Although cellphones can be converted to be used as weapons, the officer had no basis for claiming Pringle's was meant to be used as such, according to Alex Simpson, a professor at California Western School of Law.
"The United States Supreme Court come down squarely on an individual's right to film police interaction," Simpson told Fox 5 San Diego. "Theoretically, the officer are doing everything by the book and doing everything with proper procedures. They should feel totally comfortable being videotaped."