Florida sheriff’s deputies seized and won’t return the iPhone and camera they confiscated from PINAC reporter Jeff Gray, even though none of them contain relevant videos of his dubious arrest while protesting.
The videos were all transmitted to Bambuser’s web service live last week, so they failed in their attempt to keep the videos from being seen by the public.
According to Gray, most of the cameras seized were not even recording at the time.
Gray wasn’t even provided a receipt.
But even still, a police officer or deputy may only seize a camera without a warrant if he believes that exigent circumstances exist to make the officers believe that the video evidence might be destroyed.
Gray’s Fourth Amendment rights are being trampled.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has had the iPhone 6, a GoPro and a Canon EOS camera for more than a week now.
According to Gray:
At this time approximately $2,000 dollars worth of my property is still being held as evidence by SJSO. The property being held by SJSO is my iPhone 6s, my Go Pro Hero 4 Black, and my Canon EOS. The Go Pro and the Canon EOS also contain SD cards and batteries. These devices are the tools of my profession and I need them to perform my job.
Surely, the deputies had more than enough time to obtain a proper search warrant after holding Gray needlessly for over 24 hours for protesting the St. Johns County School District’s SLAPP lawsuit attempting to stop him from reporting their dismal school bus safety record.
And surely, Jeff Gray would provide any law enforcement a copy of video evidence upon request. Or if it set an innocent man free like PINAC correspondent Phillip Turner’s video did in Austin this past weekend.
We know he’d assist the sheriffs who arrested him illegally because Gray provided this statement for publication:
If you need video recorded by the devices I am more than happy to meet with you and provide access to any and all video recorded on the day of the arrest. I can tell you the only device that contains video is the Go Pro. The iPhone 6s was live streaming via Bambuser so all video was streamed to the Internet. So, no video of the arrest was stored on the iPhone 6s. To the best of my knowledge the Canon EOS was not recording at the time of the arrest. Nevertheless I am more than happy to meet with you and allow access to my devices for review and copying of any and all videos as well as photographs taken on the day of my arrest on the condition that my property is returned afterwards.”
As you can see below, Jeff Gray already posted video of the arrest from his Bambuser live stream too.
Turns out that the Florida sheriffs who arrested Jeff Gray had little or no legal authority to make the arrest for trespassing either, since the PINAC reporter stayed off school grounds while protesting the improper restraint of his First Amendment rights holding a sign saying, “The First Amendment is Not a Crime.”
Clearly, in St. Augustine, law enforcement disagrees.