Here’s a video of a disconcerting encounter between a police officer and photographer that’s making the rounds online. It shows a police officer in San Diego drawing his gun on the photographer filming because he “doesn’t know” what the GoPro attached to the main camera is.
NBC4 reports that the May 2018 incident occurred a block from the Mesa College campus and involved San Diego Community College District police officer James Everette.
After the unnamed photographer approached Everette at a traffic stop and began filming him, Everette notices the man and asks him why he’s filming. When Everette doesn’t receive a response, he tells the photographer he’s uncomfortable and asks that the “thing” be put down.
“I don’t like things holding like that to me, okay? [sic]” Everette is heard saying. “I don’t know what that is, but can you put it down please?”
“These are cameras, you know what they are,” the photographer replies.
“I don’t know what that is, but…” Everette says.
“It’s a camera,” the photographer says. “No, I will not.”
Everette responds by grabbing his gun, eventually upholstering it and pointing it at the photographer for about 20 seconds. The loudly-protesting photographer does end up surrendering the mounted GoPro while continuing to film with his main camera.
The video quickly sparked an outcry due to the officer apparently violating the photographer’s First Amendment right to film police officers performing official duties in public places.
The San Diego Community College District then released a statement saying that Everette had been placed on paid leave.
“Video has circulated of an incident involving a San Diego Community College District Police Officer which took place during a traffic stop near San Diego Mesa College on May 16,” the district said. “The officer involved has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation. The SDCCD takes any incident like this very seriously. We will not comment on the incident until that internal investigation is concluded.”
It’s unclear whether Everette received anything other than paid leave for his actions — the officer returned to active duty a few months later after the district completed its investigation. A district spokesperson tells NBC7 that it “took appropriate action consistent with the findings” and that further details of this “confidential personnel matter” would not be made public.