Earlier this week a startling video went viral. In the short clip, a woman who was pointing her smartphone camera at a group of law enforcement officers had the device snatched from her hand, smashed against the ground, and then kicked back at her.
It turns out the man who did it is a deputy U.S. marshall, and the U.S. Marshals Service says it’s now investigating the incident.
The video has been viewed nearly 900,000 times by people around the world.
NBC’s local news station in Los Angeles covered the story yesterday:
The woman, 34-year-old Beatriz Paez, was reportedly observing a multi-agency task force that was monitoring the gathering of a biker gang meeting in a residential area of South Gate, California.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Paez says that the officers noticed her with her camera and began backing toward her in order to “block her view.”
The woman stood her ground, telling the officers “You are making me feel unsafe, and I have a right to be here” and “You need to stay away from me, I don’t feel safe with you closer to me.” One of the officers then charged at Paez and destroyed her smartphone.
“It’s our responsibility to take care of each other,” Paez tells the Times. “It’s our constitutional right to film.”
Paez has a history of using her cell phone to record police activity. Her lawyer said Sunday’s video is clear evidence that her client’s Constitutional rights were violated.
“What they wanted was to make sure that they were not held accountable, that nobody could see what actions they were taking,” Colleen Flynn of the National Lawyers Guild said.
The U.S. Marshals Service says it’s “aware of video footage of an incident that took place Sunday in Los Angeles County involving a Deputy U.S. Marshal,” and that it’s “currently reviewing the incident.”