LAKESIDE - A Lakeside Walmart customer pulled out his cell phone in front of the store on Monday evening to capture video of Lakeside Police arresting a man suspected of shoplifting. The man shooting the video, Chris Hoover, didn't expect he'd end up in handcuffs, too.
The video shows two police officers wrestling a man on the ground. When they get the man in cuffs one officer realizes there is a camera. During the commotion the officer points at the camera and says "that phone is evidence. I want it." Hoover then says "it's mine."
"So he snatched it out of my hand... I wasn't going to resist. He grabbed my wrist, and then he put me in cuffs," Hoover said.
Lakeside police would not go on camera, citing an ongoing investigation. However, they did say they stand by their officers. They say police have a right to detain someone if they have video of a crime.
"He said, 'look, you have two choices,'" Hoover explained. "He said, 'either I will arrest you right here, right now for obstructing justice, and then we will get a search warrant, and we will get your phone, and we will get that piece of video as police evidence.'"
The ACLU of Colorado says police can get a search warrant but that the phone typically should remain with the owner until that warrant is obtained.
"Police officers can ask for a copy or ask for the video, but in the absence of a warrant, to actually seize somebody's personal property, I don't think police officers can seize it or threaten to seize it except in the most extreme emergency circumstances," ACLU Colorado Director Mark Silverstein said.
Hoover eventually gave in. He sent the officer a copy of the recording via email.
"It made me want to be angry, but honestly I was scared," Hoover said.
Silverstein says more regulations may need to be put in place.
"Police departments need to establish policies and training so that the police officers understand that the public has a right to take photographs, has a right to make videos and that police officers only in the most limited of circumstances could even think about seizing property as so called evidence," he said.
The person suspected of shoplifting was taken to the hospital following the incident. Hoover says he may take legal action against the Lakeside Police Department.
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