Two months ago, six Hialeah Police officers stamped out a gathering of young folks attempting to shoot an impromptu street video of "Harlem Shake," the popular Internet meme that went so viral even the Miami Heat players did their own version. When cops ordered the crowd to disperse on February 24, they ended up arresting three shakers, including FIU student Eric Faden, who was filming Hialeah's finest with his cell phone. Despite being on a public street, he was arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest without violence.
The cops also confiscated Faden's cell phone and kept it as evidence even though the charges against him were dropped the day after his arrest. Faden finally got his phone back, and he posted the footage he recorded, which shows that Hialeah police officers need a refresher course on the First and Fourth amendments.
The 39-second clip shows Hialeah Officer Fritz Janvier aggressively pointing his finger at Faden. "Stop recording me," Janvier orders. "Stop recording me and disperse."
Faden refuses, informing the officer it is not against the law to film him on a public street. Before the clip ends, another cop angrily grabs Faden and tries to snatch the phone. That's when the officers pounced on him and threw him to the ground. Faden alleges the cops hit him in the head when they had him restrained.
The incident was not the first time Hialeah police officers went overboard when a citizen was filming them. Faden's attorney, Jose "Pepe" Herrera, says he represents another client who was Tasered by a Hialeah police officer for pulling out a cell-phone camera. In March, blogger and photojournalist Carlos Miller wrote about Hialeah resident Juan Santana, whose Sony Bloggie camcorder was confiscated by a police officer outside his house.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The cop allegedly feared the camera was a gun, according to an interview Santana gave Miller. Santana was filming the officer and a colleague manhandling a friend whom they believed was a suspect they were looking for.
A Hialeah Police Department spokesman did not return a phone message seeking comment.
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness