If there is one thing we have learned from watching countless police abuse videos over the years is that the moment a cop dons his black tactical gloves, he becomes an instant asshole, pawing his hands on people for doing nothing more than exercising their First Amendment right to record in public.
That is exactly what took place Sunday when a San Diego police officer confronted a First Amendment auditor named Furry Potato for recording outside a church from a public sidewalk.
Furry Potato whose real name is Zhoie Perez is a transgender woman whom we wrote about last year when she was shot by a security guard for recording outside a synagogue in Los Angeles.
Like many bullshit arrests, this one started over “a call” from somebody who was concerned the person recording outside a church was “possibly casing for some type of terrorist threat,” according to the cop.
“So we need to talk to you and figure out who are you are and what’s going on,” San Diego police officer James Bush told Perez who was live streaming.
However, Perez refused to provide identification on the basis that Bush was unable to articulate a reasonable suspicion of an actual crime. The cop, meanwhile, insisted Perez was in violation of Penal Code 148 (a), which is California’s contempt-of-cop law that states the following:
(1) Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician, as defined in Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797) of the Health and Safety Code, in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
However, the penal code also states the following, making it an unlawful arrest.
(g) The fact that a person takes a photograph or makes an audio or video recording of a public officer or peace officer, while the officer is in a public place or the person taking the photograph or making the recording is in a place he or she has the right to be, does not constitute, in and of itself, a violation of subdivision (a), nor does it constitute reasonable suspicion to detain the person or probable cause to arrest the person.
The police apologists will be sure to chime in, claiming that Perez was not arrested for videography but for refusing to provide identification. However, since PC 148 clearly states that photography in public is not a crime, then there was no basis to demand identification in the first place.
Perez posted a followup video the same day saying the cops released her after checking out her YouTube channel and determining she was not a terrorist.
But it was an unlawful arrest and now Perez plans on suing. As for Bush, he couldn’t care less because it won’t be money coming out of his paycheck. Records show he made $121,499 in 2018. The other cop, Shane Franken, made $107,444. Generous salaries for cops who do not honor their oath to the Constitution.
As for Edduin Zelayagrunfeld, the security guard who shot and wounded her last year, he was initially arrested but charges were dismissed afterwards. In a declination memorandum, Deputy District Attorney John Harlan wrote that prosecutors “would not be able to disprove Zelayagrunfeld was acting in self-defense.”
According to the Los Angeles Times.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Perez accused the guard, the high school and the Etz Jacob Torah Center of assault, false imprisonment, negligence and discrimination. The suit repeatedly points out that Perez — a self-described “1st Amendment auditor” whose videos center on reaffirming her right to film in public, sometimes with confrontational results — had remained peaceful and on a public sidewalk despite the guard’s hostile actions.
“Following plaintiff’s lawful recording of the interaction, defendant [Zelayagrunfeld] became belligerent and without provocation, justification, or reason began to harass, intimidate, coerce, and threaten plaintiff with deadly force, including without limitation, repeatedly pointing his finger and gun at plaintiff’s face, yelling at and threatening to shoot plaintiff,” the suit read.
Perez suffered what she described as a “deep graze” and was treated and released from a hospital within hours of the clash. The bullet that struck Perez ricocheted off the sidewalk, according to the district attorney’s memo.
Her attorney, John Carpenter, criticized prosecutors for failing to bring charges against the security guard.
“There is no reason for [Los Angeles County Dist. Atty.] Jackie Lacey not to be prosecuting this crime,” he said. “This crime is documented from beginning to end on video and audio tape.”
In a country where prosecutors brag about being able to indict a ham sandwich, the excuse that they would not be able to disprove the guard was not acting in self-defense is about as lame as they come but not surprising considering the system will always protect its own, even if it’s just a trigger-happy security guard.
The first video below is the arrest and the second video is after she was released. The third video is the entire video of him recording the church and making its employees nervous. The arrest begins after the 52:30 mark.