New York cops were caught on camera detaining animal rights activists from the animal rights activist group SHARK for more than an hour, threatening them with arrest if they did not identify themselves, after the group legally flew a drone over a farm that raises beagles, ferrets and other animals for research.
The incident took place on November 13, 2016, but was published to YouTube on January 8, 2017. The video of the detainment was edited for time purposes.
A New York State Police trooper, along with Wayne County Sheriff deputies, claimed to have received a call from someone complaining about a drone hovering over private property when they pulled over a carload of members from the group, which included Steve Hindi, a former hunter and fisherman who founded SHARK, which stands for Showing Animals Respect and Kindness.
“The nonsense we’ll show you in this video is among the most unprofessional police over reach I’ve ever experienced,” Hindi explains during the introduction of the video.
After being pulled over, a New York State police cop approaches their vehicle.
“Good morning folks. New York State Police. Just trying to–some people were asking questions. Why are you flying a drone over their property?”
“Why am I being stopped?” the driver asks the trooper.
“Uh, you’re being stopped because the people identified your vehicle as flying a drone over the top of their property,” the trooper explains.
The driver and other members of the group refuse to identify after the trooper and deputies fail to explain the reason for pulling them over.
Wayne County Sheriff’s deputy Larry Linder arrives and attempts to explain why he thinks probable cause of a crime was committed by the group.
“You don’t take a drone and fly it over private property and not think something is gonna happen.”
“I don’t think you know–I know you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Hindi tries to explain to deputy Linder.
“I don’t have a drone. I don’t plan on buying one,” the deputy replies.
“Which only shows again that you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Hindi says.
“We have laws in New York: Probable cause. Reasonable suspicion. We have reasonable suspicion that you’re violating laws, flying a drone over private property without permission. OK?,” Deputy Linder says.
“Why don’t you just call, I don’t know, the local airport and ask them if that’s an issue,” Hindi suggests.
“We don’t have a local airport.”
“Oh, gosh, this is going to look ridiculous on youtube. It really is. I mean, it’s gonna look outrageous. And I don’t like to make cops look silly. I really don’t. I like to depend on cops. I have cops who are friends. And I like to believe you guys are all the good guys. OK? Why don’t you stop doing this. ”
Hindi and the group are met with silence from sheriff deputies and state troopers standing next to him.
The New York state trooper reappears to talk to the driver of the vehicle and begins making threats to arrest him.
“OK, sir. In New York state you gotta prove that you have a license for operation. I’m gonna ask you again for your ID. OK, if you choose not to supply me with that, what I’m going to do; I’m going to take you into custody. I gotta find a licensed driver. If I can’t find a licensed driver, then I’m going to tow the car. OK?”
“So this is now a traffic stop?”
“No, I have reasonable suspicion to pull you over, because of a complaint,” the trooper says to the driver.
“For what crime, though?” the driver asks.
“Well, I stopped you because you were flying a drone on someone’s private property. OK? I have reasonable suspicion that you were doing that, now that I’ve pulled you over for a traffic stop and ascertained that. OK, you told me you were flying a drone. You were asking me if it was a crime.”
The driver disagrees with the reasons the trooper tries to give him and continues to refuse.
“I can go ahead and run that license to prove that you’re a licensed driver. And I can let you go. If you refuse to give me that information, then I’ll take you into custody,” the trooper threatens.
“I’ll issue a ticket for operating without a license. And I’ll take you into SP Lyons. OK? And then we’ll ascertain who you are from there. Then I’ll ask your partners here, and if they’re not licensed, then they’re not able to drive the car and I”ll have to tow the car.”
“I understand. A few things. I never admitted to flying a drone. I still don’t–where’s the crime?”
“You were stopped for a lawful order of complaint,” the trooper replies.
“A lawful order of complaint?” Hindi interrupts.
“Good God, you don’t even know the law. A lawful order of complaint is bullshit.”
“Why don’t you let him talk, OK?” a nearby sheriff’s deputy tells Hindi.
According to the group’s website, SHARK uses video and photography as its primary method of exposing animal abuse and cruelty.SHARK stands for Showing Animals Respect and Kindness.
SHARK’s number one tool is video footage and photographs! And no one does it quite like SHARK. Using hidden cameras, long-range lens, and even night-vision cameras, SHARK leaves no place for animal abusers to hide. SHARK’s award-winning video footage and photos are supplied to local, national and international media, lawmakers, the general public, courts and other animal advocacy organizations. Instead of simply saying animal cruelty is bad, SHARK gets the documentation and presents it to the world so they can see it and decide for themselves.
On Sunday, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying today, January 9, 2017, is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, advising citizens that “If you see a Police Officer, thank a Police Officer.”