An Arizona cop said she was in fear for her life when a man pulled out his iPhone to record her during a traffic stop, which is why she snatched the phone out of his hands, prompting him to pull out another phone, which she also snatched.
After all, Tempe police officer Lara Camberg later claimed, she had read on the internet that phones could be turned into guns and bombs.
And potential ticking time bombs should be confiscated and pocketed, the ten-year police veteran insisted.
Astonishingly, internal affairs did not buy that excuse, sustaining a charge of conduct unbecoming an officer against her, which led to a ten-hour unpaid suspension for the officer.
Camberg, a veteran officer with more than 10 years of experience and five years of duty on the Mill Avenue bicycle squad, said she was fearful of the phone because it was blocking her view of what Jean-Louis was doing, and he was holding it about a foot from her face. She also told an internal-affairs investigator that she had read on the Internet how phones had been turned into guns or bombs.
The investigation sustained a charge of conduct unbecoming an officer.
“In my assessment of this situation, I did not see an officer safety reason for Camberg to take the cell phone from Jean-Louis,” Cmdr. Noah Johnson wrote, noting that a memo written by a police legal adviser two years earlier informed officers about the public’s right to videotape them.
“Officer Camberg should have known she should not have removed the camera/iPhone from Jean-Louis,” Johnson wrote.
In other words, this was a rare instance of “officer safety” not being a fail-proof excuse to violate the rights of citizens.
The incident took place on February 13, 2015 when Camberg and another officer pulled Anderson Jean-Louis over for playing his music too loud. As she was reading the name from his drivers license, Jean-Louis began recording her, which was when she snatched the phone, followed by the second phone snatching.
He was then handcuffed for 25 minutes, which he claimed cops illegally searched his car.
And he was eventually cited for resisting and interfering with police, playing loud music and failure to show a drivers license, even though the video shows she was holding his drivers license in her hands.
He ended up enrolling in a diversion program on the resisting charge with the other two charges dismissed. However, those charges can be refiled if he fails to complete the program.