Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blarney Blowback

March 8, 2014 North Pleasant/Fearing Street

So no, I'm not surprised a lawsuit was filed over alleged brutality by enormously outnumbered Amherst police at the Blarney Blowout.  But I am surprised it took this long.

After all, if it is such a strong case why wait almost one full year to file your complaint?

Rule #1:  Hold your phone horizontally Rule #2: Leave when police ask

And I always thought lawyers were not supposed to try their case in the media?  Here these legal beagles posted their "evidence" to the web for the entire world to see, and issued press releases no less.

Specifically timed of course to coincide with the upsurge in media interest as we approach the one year anniversary of that outrageous event.

Interesting how you can clearly see objects detonate near officers busy arresting someone on the ground. And I recognize that dull thud a full can of beer makes when it hits a nearby snowbank, as I had one miss my head by 6" the year before at Townhouse Apartments during the Blarney Blowout.

It's easy to look at a snippet of video and come up with ways you would have calmly handled the situation better.  Hindsight is always a piece of cake.

Or maybe I should say, "keg of beer."


keithw said...

He might have a case there. Very Glick vs. Cunniffe esq. the cop attempting to smash the phone with his boot is very damning evidence as well.

keithw said...


Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, a UMass cop I was standing next to got hit by a bottle or can and was pretty pissed.

He threw some kids ID card away like a frisbee and the kid was whining about it to me.

No doubt a few mistakes were made by PD that day, but I also have no doubt it was in response to things that don't show up on the snippet of video.

Anonymous said...

He should just be thankful he can still walk with the way he clearly offended the officers, they could have justifiably crippled him after such behavior. You cannot just film the police, everyone knows that and should expect the consequences when they do.

Walter Graff said...

The Amherst police were wrong and I hope this person addresses this matter legally.

As mentioned the courts already established with the Glick case that he has a right to film a police officer doing his job in a public place. As the Mass. court said, “A citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment.”

If he was arrested for wiretap violation or obstructing a police officer he has a very good case against Amherst.

Larry Kelley said...

He was arrested for "failure to disperse".

As you know I'm a big fan of the 1st Amendment.

But I also know a camera is not a magic wand that guarantees you immunity in every situation.

keithw said...

Anon 530

I'm afraid that's incorrect. First circuit Court of Appeals ruled that citizens have the right to record police, as long as they do so openly. The above-named ruling said that the constitutional right to gather information about public officials "aids in the uncovering of abuses". Despite all of the chaos, the kid was well within his rights.

Anonymous said...

Set The Record Straight Says

You people are correct in that a person has the right to record police officers in public. However, what you must understand here is that this was a riotous situation, a dispersal warning had been given, and this person refused to leave. The fact he remained is all necessary for the crime of Failure to Disperse which is what he was charged with. What I wonder is why he was not also charged with disorderly conduct or interference with officers. Clearly, you hear him screaming and inciting the crowds who appear to throw items at officers. Stepping on the phone is misconduct, but nothing to do with legality of the arrest.

Anonymous said...

Under the circumstances, I am fine with the police response.

To the naysayers and haters, I would say when you walk a mile in their shoes, then throw stones. Most people can't hold their composure in a heated discussion over a parking spot, never mind if they found themselves outnumbered and under physical attack for hours, as police were that day in Amherst. But those same people expect perfection from an officer who is as human as they are, and if they don't get it? Man... they will sue him, take his job, put him in jail, and ruin his life.
Unfortunately, one mistake made in the midst of the chaos is going to take center stage, and all the cop haters in the Valley will beat their chests and claim the high ground, completely ignoring the far worse, potentially deadly, anti-social, openly criminal behavior perpetrated by the young adults that day.

I'd give 'em a pass on the camera crush, he deserves it.

Richard Marsh

Walter Graff said...

"But I also know a camera is not a magic wand that guarantees you immunity in every situation. "

No not in every situation, but this person was not impeding the police and was in fact on the other side of a fence. The fact that the police provoked and hit the phone out of his hand is very damaging for the APD.

Dis con orders are what police think is a blanket to protect them, their magic wand, but forget the fact in terms of the law, it is a very narrow definition where a person must show both intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm and also a specific form of illegal/prohibitive/disruptive conduct. None of that applies to videotaping police officers performing their duties in public as numerous judgements in many states are now confirming.

That fellow ought to contact the ACLU has he has a great case against the APD.

Larry Kelley said...

Anon 6:33 PM
He was also charged with "disorderly conduct". My mistake.

I also find it interesting the cops tagged the iPhone as evidence.

If they really wanted to destroy evidence why didn't they just delete the video?

How hard is it to figure that out on an iPhone?

I think the cop who stomped on the phone was just pissed off, and not trying to destroy evidence.

Anonymous said...

"The fact he remained is all necessary for the crime of Failure to Disperse which is what he was charged with."


Not exactly. A jury trial based on that video and MGL ch.269, s.2 would be interesting to say the least. A riot is a noisy or violent gathering of ten or more people, or five or more people who are armed, bent on causing trouble, such as injuring someone, damaging property, or committing a crime. Who is to say that person is part of that crowd, or showed any intent other than to record an arrest as he makes clear in the video. I bet a defense lawyer could have some fun with that one.

Anonymous said...

Police can not delete a video or message on your phone. They can't even look through it without a warrant in most scenarios.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the cop was looking at phone. I think he was looking at his equipment. To me the phone looked to be in snow, a riot was going on and they were keeping their heads up looking for projectiles. I think the phone was destroyed in the melee.

Larry Kelley said...

I don't think the phone was destroyed, otherwise how would the video end up on youtube.

Yes Anon 7:24 I'm well aware they can't legally do that.

But some Nitwits are suggesting the cops tried to crush the phone to destroy the video because it shows them doing bad things.

Which they also can't legally do.

But if they were rogue enough to do that, then they would have had another opportunity to destroy the video after tagging the phone as evidence.

Therefor I do not think they were trying to destroy evidence.

Especially since the video shows riotous activity hurled in their direction.

Anonymous said...

Most of you people are f*#@^* up in your opinions. When it happens in a week take care of it yourselves. Because if I was a cop, I would say go ahead if you think you can do better. An understaffed and unappreciated department probably doesn't care any more. I wouldn't!

keithw said...

He might've had a passcode on his phone so that they weren't able to access it to delete the video after it auto locked. Also, the video might've gone to his cloud, so that he was able to access the video after the recording phone was smashed.

keithw said...

Anon 725

You gotta be shitting me!

Watch the video again.

Anonymous said...

I assumed phone was destroyed but video was saved on "back up". My tech savvy daughter came up with that! At the end of the day I support APD and appreciate what they do.

Walter Graff said...

Good for him. He was wronged.

Larry Kelley said...

And he lived to tell the tale (and enrich his lawyers at taxpayer expense).

Walter Graff said...

Spend more money on training and you'll lose less taxpayer money to lawyers. In fact add a few police and cops to the force to deal with a ghost population that no one wants to admit to.

Anonymous said...

We wouldn't have riots and fights with police and people's lives being ruined by having their phones scuffed up if there simply WASN'T a Blarney Blowout.

All it takes is for the local bars to stop promoting it, and the Blowout will fade away. The town should inform bars involved that they will get hourly health inspections and fire inspections for the entire month of March if they want to participate. And any violations -- or possible violations -- will result in closing the bars, because of the danger to the crowds of kids showing up for the Blarney Blowout. Because think of the children, after all. Safety first and all that.

Losing a month's income might make some saloonkeepers start to rethink the whole Blarney Blowout project.

Anonymous said...

Huh? sarcasm I hope

Dr. Ed said...

He was arrested for "failure to disperse".

OK, THEN WHY WEREN'T YOU arrested Larry? Neither you nor he are a police officer....

And as to having a bad day or "being pissed" constituting grounds to destroy the property of 9thers, (a) if cops can't control their anger, they shouldn;'t be peritteed to wander around with a laded firearm, and (b) "having a bad day" can be a just8f8cat89n f9r assaulting an officer. It's a very dangerous precedent because if -0p9ce 0ff9cers -- selected and trained for the ability to control anger -- fan't then why should anyone else be expected to do so?

Dr. Ed said...

It would be interesting if every UM student whose ID was ei8ther tossed into a snowbank and or kept by the officer were to simply report it as "stolen" to the Registry and name the officer (if known) or the department as the perp.

There is going to be paperwork involved here -- my guess a lot, and I don't see how the Registry can not demand thqt the APD expain what happened to the license.

It'd be fun....

Larry Kelley said...

Simply put Ed, I was not arrested because I was not being an asshole.

Anonymous said...

Do what the police require you to do. If that happened, we wouldn't have to blog about it. I found it amazing at the MS that a suggested question for the student body at a recent assembly was "What is police brutality?" Who do the cops sue when it's citizen brutality?

Larry Kelley said...

The ironic thing is the alleged victim was filming an arrest because he thought it a tad too brutal.

But I notice that person -- whoever it was -- has not filed a lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Let's make sure everyone hears this guys voice, attitude and where he lives. When he looks for a job, the only one who would ever employ him would be the ACLU. Mom and Dad must be so proud of his liquid courage.When people see this video, they will see how "innocent" he really is.

Anonymous said...

I seriously hope that this trend of students vs. police does not continue. I have seen infractions on both sides, in person, and online. It seems to be getting worse every year.

Undoubtedly, the police are frustrated. This example was not good police work. He does have the right to video tape an arrest.

Larry Kelley said...

Of course he does.

The question is do you have the right to video when you are in the way, or have been ordered to disperse?

keithw said...

Anon 907
"Voice, attitude" are Free Speech. And Free Speech is intended for all, including wise-ass college students. You can see in the video he wasn't interfering with what he was filming. He didn't even say anything until the cop made contact with him. Even then, he was right about his ability to film as well as asking for badge number; something police are required to provide when asked. Most college students have no idea what their rights are let alone how to exercise them. You're suggesting he should be denied employment for understanding and upholding his Constitutional Rights? That sounds like cruel and unusual punishment.

Time to stop treating the Constitution of the United States like a salad bar, folks.

Anonymous said...

While I don't agree with the actions of many students on that day, I have two concerns regarding the police in this matter as seen in the video. 1. The student was allegedly assaulted by the police while backing AWAY from them. 2. No police officer should be damaging anyone's property unless absolutely necessary for the safety of themselves or others. That makes me wonder why, after it hit the ground, they needed to stomp on it.

Anonymous said...

Can you verify outcome of his arrests? Did he get a diversion? Has he had othrr arrests? Will UMass comment on his return to school?

Larry Kelley said...

He Doesn't show up here on the blog so I don't think I covered his case (a few got away).

His lawyer said the case was dismissed, so that would rule out a "diversion".

But I plan to make some inquiries at the District Court level. UMass of course will not talk

Robert2663 said...

If it wasn't real I would say it was just another Zombie apocalypse movie.

I hope your out there with your camera again this year!!!

Dr. Ed said...

"Simply put Ed, I was not arrested because I was not being an asshole."

"Being an asshole" is neither a criminal nor arrestable offense -- that's what the "due process" and "equal protection" clauses of the 14th Amendment are all about.

That's what sucks about being a police officer -- having the self-discipline to be nice to assholes (who don't deserve it) and to treat them the exact same way you treat Larry Kelly, who is a close personal friend.

This is what's stressful about being a police officer and why job stress is considered a workplace injury entitling cops to disability payments. It's why cops are in "Group 4" of the state retirement system and can retire so young at a full pension.

A state trooper ("Group 3") who started at age 21 can retire with a full pension -- 80% pf salary -- at age 41. While this doesn't apply to town cops, a UMPD officer (a friend) explained to me how "Group 4" worked and why he was transferring to a municipal force elsewhere because it didn't apply to the UMPD (at the time).

Bear in mind one other thing folks: this is why we pay police officers a lot more than minimum wage. It may not be what they think they deserve, and they may be right on that, but it sure ain't what you get at McDonalds...

They aren't getting paid for what they do as much as what they don't do -- we should both respect them for that while insisting that they maintain that level of self-discipline.

Anonymous said...

They're getting ready for the Blowout

Here's 3 tips to having a successful one:

Dr. Ed said...

"Do what the police require you to do."

OK. The State Ethics Commission describes a violation of the Ethics Law as doing something that a member of the public isn't able to do -- and the Ethics Law applies to Larry because he holds a public office (Town Meeting Member).

So either it was legal for non-cops to be present or not, either the kid shouldn't have been arrested or Larry violated the State Ethics Law.

Remember, it's what you do and not who you are....

(Even if you say "please" and "thank you", even if you point your gun at the ceiling instead of at the teller -- it'd still be considered robbing the bank, wouldn't it?)

Dr. Ed said...

" The ironic thing is the alleged victim was filming an arrest because he thought it a tad too brutal. But I notice that person -- whoever it was -- has not filed a lawsuit."

Read his court filing -- UMass suspended him but then re-instated him upon an investigation showed he hadn't done anything wrong.

I presume (and would like to think) that the other kid actually had. And likewise being suspended from UMass as well.

Remember that at UMass, "suspension" is de-facto expulsion -- a suspended student is only permitted to reapply for admission when the suspension is over, the student is not automatically reinstated.

Hence hoping that UMass would let you back in is grounds enough to not aggravate anyone by filing a lawsuit.

There are reasons why I chose to write rather than to sue, lawsuits are "messy" and I hadn't done anything -- this kid presumably had. Things he might not want to have potential employers knowing about.

Furthermore, if the litigant's goal had been the MSP, he's already lost everything he had to loose and has nothing else to loose in litigation which may be part of why he is suing. (I definitely would have if I hadn't graduated.)

Oh, and yes, there is nothing quite like having a video recording of a cop attempting to destroy a couple hundred dollars worth of your personal property.

It's the kind of thing that immediately convinces a lawyer that he might be interested in representing you -- that he might make a whole lot of money without much work, which really is the only thing that lawyers are interested in anyway.

Anonymous said...

...he's already lost everything he had to loose..."

I thought Ed got rid of that old worn out keyboard that turns lose into loose every time.

Anonymous said...

"Simply put Ed, I was not arrested because I was not being an asshole."

A dispersal order does not mean to act polite, it means GET OUT (and I think Larry knows this). The student was not "being an asshole"; he was rightfully stating his right to film, film, and asking for a badge number.

I think the main concern of the student was the use of unnecessary physical contact by the officer and the officer stomping his phone. No matter how angry the officer may be, (s)he should know that a dispersal order does not allow him/her to trample people after thirty seconds.

Dr. Ed said...

"A dispersal order does not mean to act polite, it means GET OUT (and I think Larry knows this)."

Please cite the SJC decision that upholds these community-wide dispersal orders., There isn't one.

And Larry,k you8 really are flirting with a *criminal* violation of the State Ethics Laws...

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, I'm just a big flirt.