Wednesday, June 6, 2012

East Waco gun play a total mystery to one and all

It's agreed: No one saw anything

Six Shooter Junction – An atmosphere of fear and loathing pervades the long defunct East Waco shopping district at the corner of Sherman and Elm Street following a daring daylight shooting that took place at about 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

When an unknown shooter or shooters fired at a man at the corner of Sherman and Elm Street, he fled the scene with a gunshot wound to his arm.

Bleeding, he drove across the bridge onto Washington Ave., where he collapsed on the street in front of the entrance to the McLennan County Courthouse. An attorney summoned McLennan County deputies who were working security at the entrance to the building.

A number of cell phone video cameras began recording the action from that point on – that is, until Deputy Sheriff's Officers temporarily confiscated them on the orders of Detective Joseph Scaramucci. According to news reports, the detective mistakenly believed that the man had been shot at that location, and not in East Waco.

One of the phones belongs to a reporter for the local daily newspaper, “The Waco Tribune-Herald,” which organization protested the confiscation of the reporter's cell phone, then posted the video on its website.

Suddenly, the world's eyes were focused on Victor Jennings, 20, who refused to tell officers anything about who shot him – or why.

Detective Scaramucci said he was trying to prevent the destruction of evidence, but civil rights lawyers and journalism experts say a warrant is required to make a legal seizure of a camera or a cell phone, a legal instrument supported by an affidavit of probable cause submitted to a magistrate for review under the terms of the Fourth Amendment.
News reports claimed summer camp students of the Bledsoe-Miller Center were walking from the East Waco Library back to the riverside Bledsoe-Miller location on Martin Luther King Dr.

Clerks at the library disagree. They say the kids were waiting at the library building for the bus to take them back to the center, though, according to one lady who requested anonymity, “No one at this location witnessed anything.”

It's a tricky situation, one fraught with danger of retaliation by criminals desperate enough to fire pistols on a busy inner city street where school children wait for buses in front of a library.

The truth is, following a number of federal court decisions, police have no right to confiscate cameras or demand that citizens quit photographing any public official in the performance of his duties in a public place.

In all these cases, lawyers for the police have claimed a “qualified immunity” because it's not well-settled that citizens have a right to make video recordings of police.

It is no crime to make video recordings of police officers in the performance of their duties.

That's all cleared up, now. It's a controversy that has raged ever since Los Angeles police beat Rodney King, a speeder apprehended after driving in excess of 100 miles per hour on the freeway in 1991. A 9-minute video depicted a number of patrolmen repeatedly using tasers to stun him, then swinging their batons to beat Mr. King to the ground.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you ran something about this, Jim .. Good job .. it didn't seem at the time that the Whacked Out Trib was nearly as disturbed about cell seizures as it should have been .. I even called one of the editors to tell them a reporter on scene should have been taken away in cuffs before giving up the phone/video .. but we don't expect too much from the Trib.