“Hey. You gotta take your hand out of your pocket.”—”No. I haven’t done anything.”
Source: David Kravets
It’s been months since Ars reported about a Northern California police officer who unholstered his gun and looked ready to shoot a man whose crime appeared to be nothing more than filming that officer scouring the neighborhood.
Officer David Rodriguez was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by officials from Rohnert Park, a city about 50 miles north of San Francisco. But his job was restored after the police department said the law enforcement official did nothing wrong. The video of the incident went viral and has been seen nearly half a million times on YouTube alone. The incident, in which Rohnert Park resident Don McComas and the officer were both filming each other, underscores that we are indeed living in a YouTube society—one in which there is distrust between the public and police, and one where footage speaks louder than words.
McComas is now suing the officer and the city of Rohnert Park for unspecified damages over the July 29 incident, among other things claiming a breach of his constitutional right of assembly and speech. McComas claims he was in front of his own residence putting a trailer to his vehicle when Rodriguez, who the department said was searching for parking scofflaws, drove up. McComas began filming with a mobile phone.
According to the federal lawsuit (.pdf):
19. Defendant David Rodriguez emerged from the police vehicle, placed his hand on his firearm and walked towards Plaintiff, stating “Hey. You gotta take your hand out of your pocket.”
20. Plaintiff Don McComas responded, “No. I haven’t done anything.”
21. Defendant Officer Rodriguez removed his firearm from its holster and held it in a ready position as he advanced towards Plaintiff Don McComas in a threatening manner.
22. Plaintiff Don McComas immediately removed his left hand from his pocket and placed the contents of his pocket on his own vehicle.
23. Defendant Officer Rodriguez continued to advance towards Plaintiff Don McManus in a threatening manner while holding his firearm at a ready position at his side.
24. Plaintiff Don McComas retreated in fear as Officer Rodriguez continued to approach Mr. McComas with his gun drawn.
25. Plaintiff Don McComas repeated that he had done nothing and asked Officer Rodriguez why Officer Rodriguez had gotten out of his vehicle.
26. Defendant Officer Rodriguez stated, “You are taking a picture of me, I am taking a picture of you.” Officer Rodriguez made this statement while standing on the sidewalk in front of Plaintiff Don McComas’ home brandishing a firearm.
City officials from Rohnert Park did not immediately respond for comment.