Video: Cop confiscates phone from 'citizen journalist'
The Lt. agreed the cop was justified because the phone had perishable evidence of a crime case
By Kaitlyn Bolduc
Fox 12 Oregon
PORTLAND, Ore. — A Gresham police officer threatened to take a woman's phone after she refused to show him a video she captured of an arrest.
Carrie Medina says she saw a bunch of police activity Tuesday near SW Broadway and 6th Avenue in downtown Portland, so she decided to record what was going on.
"I consider myself a citizen journalist," said Carrie Medina. "If I ever see any police activity, or someone is arrested, I film it. There needs to be accountability, and that's what I've always been about from the very beginning."
But this time as she hit record, she was confronted by a transit officer with Gresham police, who demanded to immediately see her video.
The confrontation was all recorded on Medina's cell phone.
On the recording, you can hear the officer explain that he needs to see the video to check if Medina recorded any evidence of a crime. He then goes on to tell Medina that it's not a choice, she has to show it to him.
The two continue to argue and Medina, who was streaming the video online, tells the officer to either watch the stream or get a subpoena.
Ultimately, in the end, the officer just grabs it.
"He grabbed my arm and twisted it, and he dug his hand into mine, leaving marks," said Medina. "He held my arm out, and I just froze."
Police say they were within their rights to seize the phone because the video it captured was evidence in their case against the suspect.
"The officer has the legal right to ask for the video because there's perishable evidence there, " said Lt. Claudio Grandjean with the Gresham Police Department.
"That's evidence of a crime potentially, but we don't know until we see video. We have to protect evidence that could potentially be destroyed."
FOX 12 checked with multiple lawyers who agree the law isn't clear in this situation. One said it would be tough to rule in favor of either party. The other lawyer said, while there's no clear-cut law, in this case he believes the officer overstepped the minute he physically grabbed the phone.
And that's why Medina says she's pursuing legal action - not for her own benefit but for the public's.
Gresham police say they are doing their own investigation into the incident, and based on what they find, they will likely use the incident as a training exercise for officers.
Reprinted with permission from Fox 12 Oregon