On May 25, a Miami photographer was handcuffed and had his equipment seized when he attempted to take photos of an accident scene.
The photographer, Jacob Katel, was driving to Miami Beach, when he came across a motorcycle crash. Katel then parked his car and got out to photograph the scene (Katel has been a freelance media photographer for a decade). Within seconds of exiting his car, Katel says an officer began approaching and yelling at him and after a brief conversation, handcuffed him and took his phone and camera.
Katel says he complied with the officers and was polite throughout the interactions. He further says that when he originally arrived, an officer told him he could photograph from the sidewalk, but soon after that, he was approached by a second officer who handcuffed him and ignored him when he explained that he was a professional photographer and had been given permission to be there. Katel says he even offered to leave the scene at that point, but was instead detained and questioned, before being eventually released, though police kept his phone and camera as "evidence," which he only got back days later.
As described by Katel, the incident violates both Miami Police Department policy and the First Amendment. He has filed complaints with both Internal Affairs and the Civilian Investigative Panel. In his complaint, he says he wanted to show the police helping:
If the officers intend to have a good standing in the community, they should be proud for the public to see them at work. And if they are doing nothing wrong, they should be OK with a reasonable curiosity toward their activities.
Lead image via Pixabay.