Sunday, July 5, 2009

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Talk Of A Dead Body Near Jordan Pond On Fourth Of July...

Photos By John Hoff, Content Was Censored By Police Officer Acting Under Color Of Law

Yesterday, in the course of wholesome family celebrations near the Jordan Pond, there was a bizarre incident way the heck on the other side of the pond, involving rumors of a dead body in a house.

It went down like this...

Jordan Neighborhood Chairman Kip Browne was walking around the pond with yours truly, discussing issues in the Jordan Neighborhood, when an agitated and shirtless man ran up (see top photo) and announced there was a DEAD BODY IN THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR and he could smell the body. So he had called the police ABOUT THE DEAD BODY.

So Kip and I thought, well, we need to see how THIS turns out. We walked around to the front of the house, only to be greeted by the sight of an agitated, shirtless man being cuffed by the police. (See middle photo) It was, however, a different guy. In fact, you can see the first guy standing in the photo, explaining something to the police officer.

The way things seemed to go down, it appeared the house where the dead body supposedly resided (to the degree a dead body can "reside") had the front door broken open, somehow. Huh. Who would do that?

An ambulance and a paramedic unit were uselessly called to the scene, then were seen to depart. Though there were reports of a "bad smell" at the house next door, apparently no dead body was present. In fact, it appeared an agitated individual at the scene was the main focus of the police, not the original complaint called in to 911.

The entire incident was just bizarre and then, to top it all off, one of the police officers approached and demanded that I delete any photo on my camera which may show a minor. I didn't really feel like arguing about freedom of the press and the fact I was standing on a public street. I was, like, whatever. You want to see the pictures in my camera? Here, I'll show them to you. You want one of the pictures deleted? OK, let's delete that one. Whatever, because it's not that good a photo anyway and I don't have time for this argument.

I had already informed the officer I was a blogger. So it's all good. He was working hard dealing with weird, half-crazy people and I'll get my final say in the blogosphere. Here's my final say:

What is this, COMMUNIST CHINA? Since when do police walk up to journalists and demand they delete pictures on their camera, and on the (EXPLETIVE) FOURTH OF JULY?

I love the Fourth Precinct, and I'll say as I always do: GOD BLESS THE FOURTH PRECINCT but I will make the record, here.

Don't. Do. That.

ADDENDUM: Turns out there really was a dead body at the house, but the arrested guy had kicked in the door and burglarized the house. See follow up story.


veg*nation said...

are you sure you didn't wander into an episode of "cops"?

Johnny Northside said...

Bad boys, bad boys...watcha gunna do?

Anonymous said...

You said he asked you to delete any photos of a MINOR. As in CHILD. Perhaps he is concerned about photos of children at a crime scene being posted on the web without the knowledge and approval of their parents. Maybe he was worried about their safety. Just a thought, Johnny.

Margaret said...

It didn't look like there were any minors involved. Maybe the cop didn't want his picture taken and put on the web. I don't think it's illegal but I am sure they aren't fond of it. These look pretty discreet anyway, you can't see anybody's faces clearly.

Katie said...

It's possible that there was a minor (teenager) as a victim, suspect, or even as a confidential informant. If they were just a witness, it's public information.

I don't think the officer would have asked you to delete the photo without good cause. At least, I really, really hope that he HAD good cause.

The Mortgage Geek said...

Say CHEESE!!! said...

You don't need permission to take photos of a child in public, because, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. If you don't want the picture taken, then stay inside your house:

"Public photography is wide open
That’s the general rule. When you’re on public property (a street, sidewalk, city park, etc) you can take pictures of what you see. This means that you can also photograph private property as long as you’re not trespassing to get the shot.

Unfortunately, life is never that simple. There are a couple exceptions to the rule and other details you need to know.

Does the photo subject expect privacy?
Even on public property, you can’t photograph somebody who has a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Basically, that means you can’t snap shots of people in the bathroom, a dressing room, or similar places. Ask yourself: “Would the average person expect privacy?” If so, don’t take a photo.

Along the same lines, don’t sneak photographs of people from bizarre angles. In essence, you can’t go around taking “up skirt” photographs. Even if you’re on the public sidewalk.

Is it a question of national security?
It was news to me, but military bases and nuclear facilities can restrict photographs – even from the outside area. Even if you’re not trespassing onto government land, taking pictures of these installations could be illegal.

Don’t even try. We’re not talking misdemeanor illegal. You might be shipped off and never seen again. Yep, crazy illegal!

Stand your ground, politely
If your public photo opp passed these three stages, you’re probably safe to shoot some pictures. Since there are millions of scenarios in which you could be photographing, there’s no way anyone can tell you for sure, ahead of time.

But if someone does confront you about your photography, you can probably win by standing your ground. Bert P. Krages II has some great questions for you to ask, if confronted. Remember to be polite!

1.What is the personĂ¢€™s name?
2.Who is their employer?
3.Are you free to leave? If not, how do they intend to stop you if you decide to leave? What legal basis do they assert for the detention?
4.Likewise, if they demand your film, what legal basis do they assert for the confiscation?
I’m not encouraging you to break the law, but I also hate seeing people cower when someone confiscates their camera. Private parties cannot take your personal property without a court order. And unless a police officer is arresting you, he cannot take your property either.

Other resources
The Photographer’s Right – This is Bert’s printable guide on U.S. public photography law. It’s very thorough, but still readable. I’d say it’s a must-have for any budding photographer.

Photo Permit – A great site on photography law, “about keeping photographers out of trouble, and supporting them when trouble looms.”

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press – Their name says it all. If you’re a journalist (or blogger?), these guys are your backup."

Johnny Northside said...

I'll say more about what happened. The deal is the guy on the ground was agitated and weird, and the cops were arresting him. The woman at the house was agitated--from my perspective, she was agitated with one of the guys at the house--and when she saw me taking a picture from way down on the end of the block, she started getting pissed about THAT.

So she walked up and started saying all this stuff about how I couldn't take a picture of a minor without permission. I said, "I'm on a public sidewalk and I don't care to argue with you." But the cop was right there and demanded my camera, etc. I presume he was doing this merely to calm down the woman, who was acting like a psycho and for no other reason. In fact, it seemed like she couldn't control her family members and needed to control SOMETHING, so the guy taking a picture became the focus of her attention.

On another note...the house next door which was involved in the incident remains mysteriously empty with mail accumulated, lights on, weeds in the backyard three feet high.

Johnny Northside said...

Oh, yeah, the unoccupied house involved in the incident was 2818 Morgan Ave. N. I'm guessing the incident appears in the reports under that address.

Jordan Neighbor said...


How does this stuff happen to you?

Johnny Northside said...

By which you mean the news there really WAS a dead body in the house, see update on another blog post.

I guess I just stick my nose into stuff.

Anonymous said...

that "psycho woman" was the mother of the children that you were rudely including in the picture. are you that self rightious and ignorant that you think because of "freedom of press" that you can take pictures of anyone and their children? and she isn't psycho, you are just a dick! it's called respect and if someone doesn't want you to take a picture of their child, you should have more common sense and respect their wishes. it's not that hard!
If something happened to you and your family that just happened to be out on your lawn and you looked over and saw some jack-ass taking a picture with your children in them, how would you feel? disrespected? invaded? People have a right to privacy as well!

Johnny Northside said...

FYI, I wasn't "deliberately" let alone "rudely" including children in the photos until she walked in front of my lens--kid on her hip--while her (alleged) burglar relative was being cuffed and stuffed.

Here's free advice: take the children inside while your relative is being cuffed on the lawn if you don't want them to end up in somebody's picture, because you just made the news with your trashy behavior.

Word is this incident might be on the tv news. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

I am the Mother to the children that he had pictures of on his camera. I was not concerned of any pictures being taken of the scene, that isnot the issue though. My daughter is 3 years old and I don't think that she would like to have her face plastered all over the internet. I just do not feel that you should have even taken the pictures of kids in the backround. I take it that you were not a parent. If you were you would understand my decision. And I was not being rude in any way, and I am sorry that you feel that I was being a psycho. So you know what in the end it's all said and done. Maybe next time you will look at the situation with a little more respect.

Johnny Northside said...

Respect for what? I was on the sidewalk taking pictures of a newsworthy event and staying out of people's way.

If you are who you say, then YOU were the nut who walked up to me and started going off about somebody taking pictures on, oh gee, a PUBLIC STREET where somebody was creating a PUBLIC SCENE. I might add my first contact with the incident was the other guy running up and basically making a LOUD PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT that a body had been found at the house, basically in invitation to run and see.

You didn't have enough sense to take your child inside while a relative was being arrested. Perhaps you thought the police would treat you better if you had your child out there during the incident and, gee, you were right: you got one of the cops to walk all over the First Amendment because it's very hard to tell a blogger from Joe Schmoe with a camera, and usually Joe Schmoe can be pushed around and nobody hears about it.

But Joe Schmoe ALSO has a right to take a photo on a public street while some nutcase is getting his chronic criminal ass hauled off to jail.

If you are who you say, then I feel sorry for your daughter to be living in such a trashy family with that kind criminal behavior happening openly.

Anonymous said...

Okay, first you insult David...fine whatever, he did something stupid he should be punished, but then you go on to insult my sister.....RUDE! you don't know anything about her! she is not psycho or trashy! NEXT you insult her family, which includes me! We are far from trashy! how dare you assume that you know her situation or our family situation! she and her children did nothing wrong and you are acting as though THEY are the criminals. they can't control David so how dare you put disrespectful names upon them like they are nothing! I feel sorry for you and honestly i pray that you find peace within yourself so that you don't say hurtful things like you have said on here. say what you want about David, everything is public now, but leave other people out of it! she was a mother reacting to something that she felt she could control during a situation that was occurring in which she had no control over. I'm sure you are a nice person to your friends and family and you say you obviously do care about your community, I can't fault you for that, but she is part of your community and has done nothing to you!

Johnny Northside said...

Yeah, she did "nothing" to me except enlist the aid of a policeman to demand photos be deleted from my camera while I stood on a public sidewalk, and said a lot of stupid stuff about what kind of "permission" is needed for photos and berated me in her trashy way.

You're certainly right about one thing. She couldn't control the situation, so she needed somebody else to focus her control issues upon, like me and my cheap little back-up camera. Oh, and nice neck tattoo. Can those be obtained LEGALLY in Minnesota?

Nothing says "trashy" like a neck tattoo.

Anonymous said...

How is it that you can still insult her like you do? get over the fact that she had you delete pictures with her children on them! it's not like she tried to have you delete pictures of the whole situation, just the ones with her kids. it is so heartbreaking that you continue with this ignorant attitude. just because she has a neck tattoo does not mean she is trashy! a lot of people have tattoo's on their necks, are they all trashy? some people put tattoo's in visible places to show off something that they are proud their daughter's name, that's not trashy! you DO NOT know her or the things she has had to go through in her life, so who are you to giver her the title of trashy?! one COULD give you the title of ethnocentric and pompous based on what you say without knowing anything about you...not fair is it?