Last year the people of Connecticut were reassured that the police couldn’t arrest them for videotaping police action unless that recording interfered with the police work in some capacity. Try telling that to 35-year old Jennifer Gondola, who was arrested in New Haven last week after refusing to hand over her cell phone.
According to the Connecticut Post, Gondola and several others found themselves witness to an arrest outside of Pulse Nightclub on Chapel Street. As they were leaving, they witnessed police arresting a man they say was involved in a physical altercation.
According to Gondola, the cops punched the suspect after having handcuffed him. She was recording the incident, as were several other bystanders.
Gondola says when the police noticed her recording, on demanded she hand over her iPhone. She refused. “I told him it wasn’t evidence of the suspect doing a crime, it was police doing a crime,” she said.
Gondola put the iPhone in her bra after telling the officer that it was her right to record him.
“He yanked my arms behind my back and cuffed me,” she said. Gondola faces charges of misdemeanor interfering with police, the only action that could make her recording unlawful. But if she was standing at a distance observing, that’s hardly interference.
According to the police’s own rules and regulations, “It is the policy of the New Haven Department of Police Service to permit video recording of police activity as long as such recording does not interfere with ongoing police activity or jeopardize the safety of the general public or police.” Gondola says her actions didn’t interfere in any way.
When she was arrested, Gondola’s phone was taken by police. With no contact numbers, doing her job as a real estate agent has been compromised. Gondola’s court date is June 12.
When the police are making an arrest, adrenaline is high and they often make rash decisions despite their training to the contrary. Could this be why Gondola was treated so roughly and arrested? Perhaps. The Department says they are investigating the incident and the officer involved.
You do have the right to record police. But, this doesn’t mean you won’t get unwanted negative attention for doing so. There’s nothing that will get you on the police’s radar quicker than testing their patience. While you shouldn’t get in trouble for doing something you are completely entitled to do, it happens quite often.
If you are accused of something like disorderly conduct or “interfering” with police work, you likely know what it feels like to be arrested for something you didn’t consider to be that serious. Fortunately, I may be able to help.
Even crimes like this have lasting consequences. Contact me today to discuss the details of your case and how I might be able to help.