Cops Target Photographers

This author is one of the victims.

The same day, Missick complained to police, but internal affairs investigated and didn't sustain the allegations. The professor appealed to the Miami-Dade Independent Review Panel, which confirmed Hanna refused to identify himself. The panel recommended that cops display their badges. No disciplinary action was taken against Hanna.

My own case was perhaps the most tendentious. I was arrested in February 2007, when on assignment for a now-defunct website called Category305 (which was started by two former New Times staffers). I was standing in a construction zone and decided to photograph five officers for a story about renovations and the reduction in crime along Biscayne Boulevard.

The cops immediately ordered me to leave the area. I replied I had every right to be there. A sergeant grabbed my arm and escorted me across the street. "Keep moving," several officers said at once. But I continued snapping photos, which I believed necessary to document the cops' behavior.

Momoko Sudo

Several officers grabbed me from behind and tripped me so that I fell first onto my knees and then banged my head against the pavement. They handcuffed me and dragged me into a police car. I spent the next day in the main jail inside a cell with as many as 50 people. I was charged with nine counts, including disobeying a police officer, disorderly conduct, obstructing justice, and resisting arrest without violence.

Last month my case went to trial before Judge Jose L. Fernandez. During two days of testimony, one of the officers, Maykel Baluja, said he feared I would use my cameras as weapons against him. Another, Anthonius Kurver, claimed I got "violent" when I began snapping photos. But he was unable to explain why I was charged with resisting arrest without violence instead of with violence.

After two days, the jury chose to convict me only of resisting arrest without violence. I was sentenced to a year of probation and 100 hours of community service. I'm appealing.

Sudo, the Coral Gables woman, is also battling authorities. Less than an hour after the incident, she filed a complaint with the Coral Gables Police Department. Then she began writing about the incident on her website. On June 24, Gables Lt. Theresa Silverio informed her that Rodriguez had been reprimanded for his actions.

Strangely, a memo from Gables Police Chief Michael Hammerschmidt to City Manager David Brown, dated June 26, alleges Sudo told Silverio she did not want to pursue the matter further.

Sudo denies saying such a thing. "They never even asked me for anything in writing," she says. "It's like they didn't want any evidence about what had happened."

Now she plans to file a written complaint.

Meanwhile, she has retrieved most of the deleted photos with recovery software. Among them: the one of Officer Rodriguez sitting on his bike while chatting on a cell phone. "It's like he had something to hide," she says. "Because why else would he get so upset that I took his photo?"

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