Photojournalist J.C. Playford has long been a thorn in the side of San Diego law enforcement officers over his right to take pictures in public.

But he’s always been the first photographer to offer condolences to cops when fellow officers die in the line of duty.

So it’s hard to picture him in a bomb scheme. Espeically a urine bomb.

But cops tell the most elaborate stories.

According to the North County Times:

Freelance photojournalist James Charles Playford, 48, of Ramona, didn’t immediately comply with San Diego County sheriff’s Detective Brendan Cook’s orders after the deputy detained Playford, mistakenly believing the cameraman was using a cell phone in an attempt to detonate a “bomb” outside U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa’s office on Dec. 11.

The “bomb” turned out to be a bottle of urine next to a coffee mug. Playford testified he was just trying to call a news agency he was working with.

Playford fidgeted and “shrugged” as if he were attempting to break free from Cook’s hold, prompting the detective to call for more deputies, Cook said during testimony on Wednesday and Thursday..

The prosecutor argued that Cook was in fear for his life over the urine bomb, which is why he had the right to detain Playford.

But Playford’s attorney argued that his client wasn’t breaking the law by using his cell phone or recording with his camera.

The jury sided with the cop and convicted Playford for obstruction.

The judge had no choice but to go with that, but expressed that he did not agree with the verdict.

Jurors reached the guilty verdict after about an hour of deliberation. Afterward, Vista Superior Court Judge Richard Mills said he didn’t see how the evidence supported the police-obstruction conviction.

Mills sentenced Playford to time served, issued no fines and did not place him on probation. Playford will have to pay about $300 in attorney’s fees, Mills ruled.

Playford plans to appeal the decision, which should be a slam dunk considering the judge even sided with him.

The urine bomb, by the way, was a bottle of urine that had been left there by somebody else and had nothing to do with Playford.


Please send stories, tips and videos to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.


I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write “carlos3” in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

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Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I’m documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested.