A Maryland man [__convicted by a judge last year on questionable charges__](http://photographyisnotacrime.com/2015/10/21/maryland-deputies-arrest-man-before-confiscating-girlfriends-phone-for-recording/) after a sheriff’s deputy accused his girlfriend of breastfeeding their unrestrained baby in the passengers’s seat as he pulled into a gas station had the conviction reversed on appeal last month after taking the case before a jury.
But the Charles County Sheriff’s Office is still refusing to return his girlfriend’s phone that recorded the incident.
And that’s despite the fact they confiscated it illegally in the first place.
The only reason the video went viral last year is because deputies submitted an edited version of the footage before his October 2015 trial.
Nevertheless, winning the appeal was a sweet victory for Juley Harris, especially considering he used a public defender throughout the whole ordeal.
Usually, public defenders are unable to invest much time into their cases because they are overworked and underpaid.
And sometimes they have a conflict of interest as we saw [__in the case of Tiffanie Hupp,__](http://photographyisnotacrime.com/2016/03/07/west-virginia-woman-acquitted-for-stepping-between-dog-and-cop-who-wanted-to-kill-it/) whose public defender never disclosed the fact that she was married to the police supervisor of the cop who arrested Hupp for trying to stop him from killing her dog.
But Ariel Werner was different. She defended Harris during his October 2015 bench trial less than two months into her job as a Maryland public defender and less than 18 months after graduating from the New York University School of Law.
And then when Judge Leon Robert Cooper found him guilty, she agreed to represent him during his appeal, which then brought the case before a jury.
And the jury fortunately had enough sense to side with justice on February 24, 2016.
“I want to commend her, she did a great job,” said Harris during a telephone interview with *Photography is Not a Crime.*
But now it’s going to take a civil lawsuit to get them to return his girlfriend’s phone.
His girlfriend, Shanita Simms, who was not arrested, has already filed a notice of intent to sue the agency for seizing her phone without a warrant or subpoena.
And Harris has already met with a civil attorney to discuss his own suit against the Charles County Sheriff’s Office for false arrest, but that attorney has not confirmed whether he will take the case or not.
He has set up a [__Go Fund Me account__](https://www.gofundme.com/ga6v42b4) to help him raise money for a civil rights attorney in case an attorney does not want to take the case on contingency.
The arrest took place in December 2014 after Harris pulled into a Dash In gas station early one morning with Simms in the passenger’s seat and their two children in the back, including their one-month-old daughter as well as their three-year-old daughter.
Harris pumped gas into the car, then stepped inside the station’s convenience store to heat up a pizza.
When he stepped back out, Charles County sheriff’s deputy R. Gass had pulled up behind his car and began demanding his identification, accusing him of driving with an unrestrained baby in the front seat, claiming he had seen Simms breastfeeding the baby.
Harris pointed out that the baby was sitting restrained in the back seat along with the three-year-old, but Gass claimed the baby was placed in the seat after they had pulled into the station.
Harris handed over his identification and Gass began writing a citation as a female deputy pulled up.
Notably upset, Harris then asked for a supervisor, thinking that would clear things up.
But that only made things worse as the supervisor, Sergeant Smith, got into his face and began yelling and threatening to arrest him.
That was when Simms started recording.
“You see all these people around?” Smith asked. “I’m going to lock you up for disturbing the peace.”
But there was maybe one other person in the gas station who was busy pumping his own gas.
And gas station surveillance footage that was obtained by the Charles County Sheriff’s Office within hours of the arrest was never admitted as evidence into the trial.
“Can we just get the ticket and go?” Simms asked when realizing Smith was intent on escalating the situation with her boyfriend.
But that prompted Smith to turn his attention to Simms where he started pushing and shoving her, ordering her back inside the car.
“Don’t touch me,” she said. “Get the hell off me.”
“I can touch you if I want,” Smith said.
“Why is he putting his hands on her? What the fuck is he doing?” Harris asked from behind them.
That was when Smith turned his attention back towards Harris.
“Now you’re under arrest, put your hands on the car right now,” he ordered.
Harris did as he was told, allowing himself to be handcuffed.
“You move and you get tased,” Smith threatened.
After they placed Harris in the back of the patrol car, Smith returned and seized Simms’ phone as evidence, which is illegal to do without a warrant or subpoena.
The only exception would be if there were “exigent circumstances,” meaning the deputies would need to have a reasonable suspicion that Simms was intent on destroying the footage.
The United States Department of Justice made that very clear in its [__statement of interest__](http://photographyisnotacrime.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/USDOJ-Statement-of-Interest.pdf) to the Baltimore Police Department in 2012.
The USDOJ also said that police must obtain a warrant before searching the contents of a seized phone.
But Harris does not believe they did that in this case because nothing in the case file indicated they obtained a warrant before downloading the footage and submitting it as evidence.
In fact, the seizing of the phone was never addressed during either trial.
Harris also said they removed maybe a minute or two minutes of footage from what she had recorded , specifically from then beginning and the end of her recording.
The one vital part they did not include was the actual confiscation. The video just ends after they handcuff Harris.
And Simms was very adamant about her right to record, so it’s unlikely she would just turn off the camera when there was still a chance she would be arrested.
In an [__interview with PINAC__](http://photographyisnotacrime.com/2015/10/21/maryland-deputies-arrest-man-before-confiscating-girlfriends-phone-for-recording/) last year, Simms stated the following:
> “I was still videotaping him and he told me to give him my phone because it was his evidence,” Simms said.
> “I sat in the car and started crying and he put all his weight on me. I was leaning over on the drivers seat, trying to keep my phone away from him but he took it.”
> And once he seized her phone, a Samsung, he demanded her passcode, but she refused to give it to him.
> “He said, ‘we have ways to get into it,’” she said.
> Meanwhile, Harris is sitting handcuffed in the back of the patrol car watching the sergeant seize her phone.
> “He is two times bigger than me, she is two times smaller than me,” he said. “I’m seeing his whole body in the car and he comes back out with the phone.”
Harris ended up charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a lawful order and driving with an unrestrained child in the front seat.
When he was released from jail, he went straight to the gas station to see if he could obtain the surveillance footage, but was told the deputies has already been by and taken it.
But when asked to produce it in court, the deputies said they did not have it, offering no explanation as to why they did not have it.
However, the two male deputies testified in court that there was a crowd of ten to 20 people who had gathered to watch the scenario, which is how they were basing their disorderly charge against him.
The surveillance video might have also confirmed whether Simms was breastfeeding the unrestrained baby when they pulled in as Gass had claimed.
“When I spoke to some of the jury after the trial, they were telling that they kept looking for the people, even looking at the reflections of the window, but they could only see one person,” Harris said.
Harris was initially sentenced to serve 40 hours of community service as well as two years of probation, but that sentenced was put on hold until after the appeal was completed.
After he was convicted by the judge last year and the video began going viral, [__published on news sites from across the globe,__](http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3285334/Video-shows-moment-Maryland-deputies-arrest-hip-hop-artist-threaten-girlfriend-jail-children-non-existent-breast-feeding-violation.html) another Charles County sheriff’s deputy named Ron Walls began libeling Harris by accusing him of regularly committing domestic violence against Simms.
Walls, who goes by [__Rocko Dubbs on Facebook,__](https://www.facebook.com/rockodubbs?__mref=message) where he regularly posts photos of himself flexing his muscles for his friends to admire, stated the following:
But Harris said he has never been accused of domestic violence and when we reached out to department for evidence, they were unable to provide any evidence to back up Dubbs’ claims.
Harris said there were incidents between his girlfriend and her mother at one point in the past when the mother lived with them, but he has never laid a hand on his girlfriend.
“That was always between them, not me,” he said.
Harris, 29, a hip hop musician who goes by DC Prophitt and performs at various venues, wrote a song about the experience, which he turned into a video using the footage from the arrest.
That video is below, beneath the actual video of the arrest. And below that video are the lyrics to the song.
In describing his music, Harris says he is a “very humble person who suffered alot of pain in life. And my music is a reflection of the pain.”
*I RAP ABOUT THIS PAYNE*
*I RAP ABOUT MY TROUBLES*
*I RAP ABOUT THE CHANGE*
*THAT WE WANT INSIDE THESE JUNGLES*
*Why I feel like every judge gottuh prove to me*
*That his judgments are the best for the community*
*Why my race , ain’t racing for unity ?*
*When they want us all extinct “used 2 be”*
*Or leave u sitting in a cell*
*Where u urine see*
*Your success is a failure for their*
*They don’t want you have a dollar*
*And so currently*
*I been all about my dollars*
*And I’m the father 2 my kids*
*They don’t wanna see*
*Type of father tell my kids*
*They don’t wanna be*
*Just like me*
*Oh no I want you 2 be better den*
*Don’t think like me*
*Oh no I want you thinking better den*
*Better than me*
*I Hope heaven 4 Gs*
*And If I leave*
*Cuz of profiling*
*Who kill my rights*
*if I’m right*
*Then honor rights*
*Don’t got that right*
*that’s not right*
*That’s cuz I’m not white*
*Lil parrannah in the sea*
*2 these great White’s*
*How you ruin folks life*
*And go to sleep at night*
*Break a father or take a father*
*From his family then*
*Structure mothers to depend*
*On the government*
*they Don’t like they mother*
*Or they father den*
*We on the river*
*this just modern day*
*They use the bible as a guide*
*They say they follow it*
*I Don’t know how*
*When Legalizing gay marriges*
*Some how some way*
*they proud to say*
*they really shot a kid*
*And wonder why*
*my Hoodie on*
*Wit my fully on me*
*Peace 2 treyvon*
*That’s a pain*
*A black mother feel*
*How your son can get killed*
*And bastard can still*
*No conviction of guilt*
*But I’m still stuck wit Charges*
*For a lie from a officer*
*Who said I was feeding my daughter*
*In a car and I wassnt*
*They want me fold I ain’t budging*
*But this the life that I’m stuck in*
*Enemy 2 the public*
*Why not just rap about my troubles*
*Why not just rap bout my pain*
*Why not just rap bout dis jungle*
*N How we need it to change*
*Lion heart but I’m humble*
*It’s kinda dark where I’m from*
*I RAP ABOUT THIS PAYNE*
*I RAP ABOUT MY TROUBLES*
*I RAP ABOUT THE CHANGE*
*THAT WE WANT INSIDE THESE JUNGLES*
*VERSE 2 :*
*THEY said I never kept it cool*
*They cut the tape thats a lie*
*All Your Officers just Got up on*
*the Stand and just lied*
*cops swearing under*
*Oath u testify and den lie*
*Yall worser den these rats*
*Dat keep tellin yall lie*
*And get away wit every*
*Word as if it’s truth when u lien*
*Take a man from his*
*Fam with no truth*
*In this land im living in*
*and I’m posed to be proud*
*Why i always fear the feds*
*When they comming around*
*Like these dreads in my head*
*Make me get on the ground*
*Always prayed in my prayers*
*I could turn back turn it around*
*But them just prayers dat i prayed*
*Cuz And no turning round*
*I’m just humble man my heart*
*Still Suffer for Mike Brown*
*Still say it*
*4 Sandra bland*
*You don’t know these*
*You could never understand*
*Imma product of this poverty*
*And partial state property*
*My Wisdom of oppression*
*My most valuable lessons*