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Can you be arrested for photographing or shooting video of Toronto police?

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I have often wondered if you can be arrested or you equipment seized for photographing the activities of the Toronto Police.

I know in a lot of third world countries you can be arrested for doing this. Has it ever happened here? Or could you be arrested for taking pictures of the police?
 

Phat Buddha

TRIBE Member
Freedom to photograph under threat | Toronto Star

The situation in Canada has reached the point where it needs to be said loudly and clearly: there is no law against public photography in Canada; no one here can ever be arrested for the simple act of making a picture or film, unless other laws are being broken in the process; and police officers who are in uniform and executing their duties in public have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
 

The Watcher

TRIBE Member
I've got a friend who was arrested for not fully dismounting from his bicycle when crossing college @ bay, then when the officer pulled him over, he said "fuck that" to which the officer took offence as if he said fuck you to him personally.

He was roughed and thrown to the ground(causing him to bleed in several places), boot on his neck, arrested and held in the courthouse for 3 days.

Stay away from the policy enforcers, they have been given the ability to take your freedom away for no justifiable reason and they act like a racket.
 
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acheron

TRIBE Member
Nick in your friend's case he was stopped for not dismounting his bike when using a crosswalk at a busy intersection, then compounded his problems by insulting the officer. Why the hell would anyone swear at a cop? It's like asking them to throw the book at you. The cop was well within his mandate to arrest your friend for his behavior during the stop if your description is accurate.

Now... back to what this thread was actually about, photographing the police:

We have it somewhat better in Canada than the US right now given our law enforcement seem to be much better informed. There are so many different jurisdictions in the US and they all seem to go their own way - even when the Federal department of justice tells them that constitutionally, citizens can record police actions so long as they don't interfere. We see cases all over the US (the UK is pretty bad for this too) of photographers, both amateur and professional and some journalists too, being arrested and/or having their equipment seized or photos deleted. Just about every time this happens, a court case follows and the photographer wins. Once again the state has to step in and remind law enforcement...again. But they just don't seem to get it.

Back to Canada. Most of the time our cops seem ok with it. You get one or two officers who get their backs up and try to arrest someone but as soon as a superior officer is called to clarify, the photographer is let go. Cops seem to have a bit more flexibility here.

Incidents like this will no doubt cause a chill in the Canadian law enforcement community/cop unions so it would be a good idea to ask the Minister of Justice (Peter Mackay) to issue a statement to the cops reminding them of the public's rights regarding photographing police. Same goes for Toronto Police Chief Blair.
 

Sal De Ban

TRIBE Member
can we have a police pact?

if a police officer ever pulls you over or asks you a question, just drop to the ground, go into the fetal position and just start moaning "oh god please dont shoot me please please i'll pay you money please dont kill me!!"
 

sianspherica

TRIBE Member
can we have a police pact?

if a police officer ever pulls you over or asks you a question, just drop to the ground, go into the fetal position and just start moaning "oh god please dont shoot me please please i'll pay you money please dont kill me!!"
It's kind of getting to that point where you just assume anything will set them off and make them draw their guns and fire away :/

The thing is sometimes you see a great cop:

This morning I'm biking to work and some guy is crossing King and Yonge with two young kids and he's holding a bunch of drinks in one hand and a big bag in the other, and his two young kids are being walked across the busy street by....two uniformed Toronto Police officers. The kids are smiling and loving it and the cops looked so happy to help this guy out, and it was a real nice moment to witness.

I've had good interactions with cops and bad ones. I really hate that shit like the Bellwoods shooting makes me have such fear and animosity towards them because sometimes I see them do stuff like what I witnessed today, and realize that the bad cops are really the minority.

The overall police system has some serious issues though right now, these bad cops are making the public trust in them really deteriorate with each of these incidents.

These are people we need to trust and rely on more so than pretty much any other public figures, we trust these people with our lives.
 
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Hi i'm God

TRIBE Member
Nick in your friend's case he was stopped for not dismounting his bike when using a crosswalk at a busy intersection, then compounded his problems by insulting the officer. Why the hell would anyone swear at a cop? It's like asking them to throw the book at you. The cop was well within his mandate to arrest your friend for his behavior during the stop if your description is accurate.
WTF? If you are stopped for going 5km over the speed limit and give the cop attitude it's in his mandate to violently arrest you? I don't like the world you live in.
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
Ok so explain to me exactly what a cop is supposed to do if a belligerent is openly disrespecting him, especially when this guy is caught red-handed breaking the law, and doubly so for something so minor? Dude has a problem with authority. I don't think we're hearing the whole story here. I highly doubt it was the cop hearing the fuck this and then throwing him to the ground and cuffing him - more like, fuck this, then the cop says alright, turn around I'm arresting you, put your hands behind your back etc. and buddy starts resisting because we know exactly what his attitude about this stop is, yes? It's not like he was saying, whoops I'm sorry I didn't mean to swear I'm just unhappy about this situation. I'm sure he put up a fuss. Cops don't just grab people and throw them to the ground, if buddy just turned around and let the cop cuff him he wouldn't be on the ground, he'd still be standing.
 
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Sal De Ban

TRIBE Member
Cops don't just grab people and throw them to the ground.
it happens. I've been in situations where a cop is deliberately trying to escalate the situation and anger someone. when they realize that you're not going to play their game, and you're going to remain your calm/collected self, they eventually give up. but it happens, man. and it's totally deliberate.
 

derek

TRIBE Member
i highly doubt nick's friend was arrested for not dismounting, probably more like the cop wanted to give him a ticket an his friend escalated it, and he was arrested for resisting arrest . pretty stupid for a) riding across a crosswalk b) challenging a cop when called out for it

sounds like your buddy has some issues of his own

and no god you shouldn't give cops 'attitude'. if you can't have a rationale discussion (because of your own temper or theirs) better to explain to the jp or judge if you take it to court.

growing up in flem, i totally watched cops try to bait people on occasion, some so fell for it. happened to a school mate, the cop was being border line racist and trying to provoke him into reacting, so he could take him down. my friend's parents trained him well. instead of being upset he held his composure and just answered 'yes sir', 'no sir'. the cop was wrong but my friend would have lost in the end. choose your battles wisely is the lesson what i took from that day.
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I am thinking it was lucky I never had the bacon cutting knife in my hand when that gang of bike cops rolled into the TRIBE BBQ site last year. Or even the BBQ tongs for that matter.
 

cosmosuave

TRIBE Member
I am thinking it was lucky I never had the bacon cutting knife in my hand when that gang of bike cops rolled into the TRIBE BBQ site last year. Or even the BBQ tongs for that matter.
Yeah you would of had more pork than you could handle...
 

kyfe

TRIBE Member
Cops don't just grab people and throw them to the ground, if buddy just turned around and let the cop cuff him he wouldn't be on the ground, he'd still be standing.
for the record, I and I'm sure several others can verify that this in fact does happen.

I've had a gun pulled on me
Been stopped for walking home from work
Stopped an questioned because there was a break in nearby
Thrown to the ground and almost cuffed until the officer realized I was not the person he was looking for.

I really hope the same thing happens to some rich kid in the next month so we can compare the media coverage on this matter and how the police handle the situation
 
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acheron

TRIBE Member
you're missing the point here... in each case you listed, the cops presumably had a reason for doing what they did. which is why I said "cops don't just grab people..."
 

Hi i'm God

TRIBE Member
You can get beaten to a pulp though. Protip treat cops like rabid animals and make no sudden movements that might spook them.

SIU clears Toronto police over arrest at Sheraton | Toronto Star
Citizens have a right to film police but must comply with officer commands, Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit has concluded in clearing Toronto police in an arrest that left a hotel guest with a broken rib and other injuries.
“There is no law that I am aware of that prohibits citizens from recording police activity in public areas,” SIU director Ian Scott said in a news release.
“However, the right to record police activity should not be confused with the authority of the police to require citizens to comply with lawful commands to control a disorderly situation.”
Karl Andrus of St. Catharines, a 35-year-old dispatcher for an IT company with no criminal record, recorded video on his smartphone of arrests of two members of a family at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre Hotel on the night of Aug. 29, 2012.

Karl Andrus of St. Catharines was arrested and injured while trying to make video of an arrest of a young Sheraton hotel guest on Aug. 29, 2012
After a couple of minutes of recording from an area where other hotel guests were also standing — and some of them making recordings as well — Andrus was told by an officer that he’d “filmed enough” and was in the way, and was told by police repeatedly to move back.
Andrus, who is suing police over what came next and whose story was featured in the Star, said he felt he had the right to be where he was and continue recording.
Andrus moved back to where he started his filming, again, with other guests beside him. After being warned he would be arrested, an officer approached him and started moving him back.
At one point in the video, Andrus, smartphone in one hand, raises his other arm.
The SIU concluded that the arm motion was “aggressive” and justified a subsequent takedown by a number of officers that left Andrus with bruises, bumps, an abrasion on his head and a broken rib.

The arresting officer, Const. Jeffery Riel, had the “lawful authority to arrest him for assaulting a peace officer. As well, other officers had the authority to assist in that arrest,” Scott said in an unusually lengthy and detailed statement released Thursday.
“Given Mr. Andrus’ resistance, I am of the view that the involved officers did not use excessive force in effecting this lawful arrest. Accordingly, I have no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer committed a criminal offence.”
Scott said “the subject officer (Riel) was attempting to control a difficult situation, and had the lawful authority to require Mr. Andrus to step away from the arrest scene whether or not he was video-recording the involved officers’ actions.”
Andrus, who can be heard on video saying he was not resisting, couldn’t be reached Thursday.
It was his civil lawyer, Barry Swadron, who notified the SIU of the case.
“I can’t understand how any reasonable person would watch the video and come to the conclusion that the raising of his hand was assaultive,” Swadron said in a telephone interview.
“It was clearly defensive. We’ll let the court decide.”
Andrus, who was charged with assaulting and obstructing police, is seeking $1.35 million in damages and an admission that police violated his rights. The criminal charges against him were withdrawn in an arrangement that saw him do 25 hours of community service at a food bank.
In a statement of defence, police deny Andrus’s rights were violated and argue that any injuries caused were not their fault. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The incident was captured on hotel security cameras and Andrus’s smartphone.
 
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