Man Tasered, Shot With Bean Bag Rounds For Filming Warrantless Police Search
October 19, 2007, 1:04 am
Filed under: Oregon, police brutality, Police State, Taser Guns

Man Tasered, Shot With Bean Bag Rounds For Filming Warrantless Police Search
Acquitted Portland man sues after cops stated camera “could be used as a weapon”

Steve Watson
October 17, 2007

A man from Portland Oregon is suing police for unlawful seizure with excessive force after officers fired a Taser and bean bag rounds at him when he refused to stop filming a warrantless search of his neighbour’s property last year.

According to a report in The Oregonian, Frank Waterhouse claims that on May 27, 2006 he was brutally assaulted by police when officers followed a sniffer dog onto the property in pursuit of a fleeing suspect.

Waterhouse says that the dog keyed on a car, prompting officers to break out a window which upset residents who maintain that no one ran onto the property. It was at that point that an angry resident grabbed a video camera and started to film the police search.

The Oregonian report states:

When one woman was told to stop recording, she gave the videocamera to Waterhouse. He walked to the edge of the property, climbed up a dirt embankment and continued to record. At one point, he yelled to his friend, “Yes, I got it all on film. They had no right to come on this property.”

He says in the suit that police immediately came after him, and yelled at him “put it down.” Officers moved towards him, and he said, “Don’t come after me.” Waterhouse said seconds later he was shot with a bean bag gun and a Taser and fell to the ground.

Here is the video that Waterhouse shot. It ends with a female officer approaching him and firing taser darts into his body:

Despite the video evidence that ends with Waterhouse’s painful screams, the police reports stated that Waterhouse had run away and that officers had to give chase, bean-bagging and tasering him in the process. One officer wrote, “He had refused to drop the camera which could be used as a weapon.”

So police knew Waterhouse was not a suspect and that he was merely holding a camera. Is a camera an adequate match for tasers and guns?

Police arrested Waterhouse on charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, which were later dismissed in court. Now Mr Waterhouse is suing the Portland Police Department.

Filming in public is a right every American citizen has under the first and fourth amendments, there is no legal basis to seize cameras and footage.

In the past we have reported on cases in which police have seized cameras and film from innocent people under bogus charges of “wiretapping”. Earlier this year a man was charged in Carlisle, Pennsylvania with filming police officers during a routine traffic stop and faces up to seven years in prison. Last year a North Middleton Twp. man was charged in a street racing case that involved a wiretapping charge. Police claimed the man ordered associates to tape police breaking up an illegal race after officers told him to turn off their cameras. Furthermore, last June a 48-year-old man from Dover, New Hampshire was arrested for “wiretapping” for allegedly recording police while they were investigating him for driving while intoxicated.

Such charges are invalid because they flout privacy laws. Under the fourth amendment the expectation of privacy is not reasonable at such public places as automobile thoroughfares.

Furthermore, the expectation of privacy is not reasonable if there exists a vantage point from which anyone, not just a police officer, can see or hear what is going on.

See this previous report for more on the all out assault by police and city authorities on the right to film in public.

The Oregonian also reports that Waterhouse’s case is one of four similar incidents of “dirty tactics” on behalf of the police which are being heard this week.

The Portland Police Bureau have refused to comment on any of the cases.


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