Jeff Gray aka HONORYOUROATH continued to test North Florida authorities on their knowledge on basic photography laws this week, almost landing himself in jail.
Not that he broke any law for even the deputy admitted he was completely within his rights to record from a public sidewalk.
But Jacksonville Sheriff’s deputy Carlos Cusatti just didn’t appreciate the fact that Gray refused to provide identification.
However, if he was not suspected of committing a crime, which Cusatti acknowledged, then Gray was under no obligation to provide identification. The only exception would be if Gray had been driving a car, which he wasn’t doing at the time.
The video starts off with Gray shooting video of a tall bank in downtown Jacksonville and quickly getting approached by a security guard who told him he was breaking the law.
When Gray asked the guard to elaborate, he was told it was illegal to photograph any building in downtown, not just the bank.
When Gray informed him that he would continue recording, the guard spoke to somebody on his walkie-talkie who said they would call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Gray also called the sheriff’s office.
As they were waiting for deputies to arrive, another guard strode up and told Gray that just because he was standing on a public sidewalk didn’t give him the right to photograph a private building, which we all know is completely false.
When Deputy Cusatti arrives, he demands Gray’s identification, but Gray refuses to provide it on the basis that he has not done anything illegal.
The deputy even acknowledges that he didn’t do anything wrong, but adds that if he refuses to provide identification, he could be arrested.
“You’re the one that contacted me so if you want to leave, you can leave, but if you want to give me trouble, then I’ll give you trouble,” the deputy said.
Once Gray realized the deputy had a chip on his shoulder, he turned around to leave, but by then, the deputy changed his mind.
“You said I was free to go,” Gray said.
“No, you’re not …. put the camera down.”
The deputy kept ordering him to put the camera away muttering something that he was detaining Gray over “suspicious circumstances.”
“You can take pictures, you can videotape, you can videotape me if you wish to, but I have the right to also contact you,” the deputy said.
The cop then takes Gray’s identification into the car with him, ordering Gray to remain standing on the sidewalk.
After a few minutes, the deputy returns Gray’s identification and tells him he is free to go.
When Gray asks him to state his name to the camera, the deputy refuses, telling him he would write it down for him.
But he also informs Gray that his name is printed on the side of his patrol car, which is something that all law enforcement departments should require to promote transparency.
Upon further research, his first name is Carlos and has been in law enforcement since 1995, meaning he knows the laws he is supposed to enforce but he also knows how to make life difficult for citizens that don’t kiss his ass.
While more cops are getting the message that photography is not a crime, more need to be reminded that citizens have every right to refuse to provide them identification unless they are being detained for reasonable suspicious circumstances.
That’s obviously something they don’t teach in the police academy.
Last month, Gray had another incident where a security guard informed him he was not allowed to video record from a public sidewalk.