Photog runs into bureaucratic dead-end in filing complaint against NYP

Carlos Miller

Photog runs into bureaucratic dead-end in filing complaint against NYPD

It all started when J.C. Cina decided to photograph a bright yellow taxi garage on his walk from the bakery in Queens last February.

That led to a confrontation with one of the workers, which led to a confrontation with two New York City Police officers.

Next thing he knew, they were ordering him not to take anymore photos.

And when he tried to inform them that he was well within his legal rights to photograph the building from the public sidewalk he was standing on, the asked for his identification and filed a complaint against him.

And even then, they refused to let him see the complaint.

“And when I filed a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, they wouldn’t even look into it,” Cina said during an interview with Photography is Not a Crime on Monday.

So the native New Yorker has no choice to but to chalk it up as another example of post-9/11 anti-photo hysteria.

“When I was a kid or in college, I would take photos everywhere and nobody harassed me,” he said.

“I would always be taking photos in the subways and nobody cared. Now everybody wants to be a hero.”

But since 9/11, he’s been pulled off trains and even had a motorman stop the train in between stations and demanded to know why he was taking pictures inside the train.

He is not too confident that all NYPD officers will abide by the new order from above to not harass photographers.

In the latest incident, Cina was walking by the yellow building and started taking photos. He noticed a piece of scrap metal in the yard and asked the worker if he would be allowed to step on the property to photograph it, but the guy said no.

So Cina remained on the sidewalk but continued taking photos. That was when the guy jumped in his face, ordering him to stop taking photos.

Cina snapped a quick photo and moved on, not thinking too much of it. Next thing he noticed, the man had run up to a police car that was stopped at a traffic light and complained about him.

Figuring he would show the cops that he meant no harm, he walked back to the car and explained that all he was doing was taking photos from the sidewalk.

One of the cops told him not to take anymore photos. And Cina asserted his rights to take photos.

This prompted the officers, Kevin Steele and William Layden, to pull up on the sidewalk, step out of the squad car and demand his identification.

They also allowed the man from the taxi garage to file a complaint against him, accusing him of trespassing on his property.

Cina filed a complaint with the CCRB the very next day , but they decided it wasn’t worthy pursuing because it didn’t “fall within the board’s jurisdiction.”

In the response from the CCRB, they informed him that they were referring his case to the Office of the Chief of Department of the New York City Police Department, but Cina believes this is just more bureaucratic bullshit.


War on Photography