New Video Shows The Moments Before A U.S. Marshal Smashed An Onlooker's Phone
Earlier this week, a shocking video was released on YouTube, showing a U.S. Marshal grabbing an onlooker's phone, smashing it to the ground and kicking it away. Now, the woman in the video has released her own footage of the tense moments right before the incident.
Even though Beatriz Paez's cellphone was thrown onto the ground, she was still able to retrieve the video she recorded on Sunday of law enforcement on the streets of South Gate, according to NBC Los Angeles. Authorities were in the area that day targeting the Mongols motorcycle club. As they were arresting some men, Paez stood about a house away filming everything with her cellphone camera.
About six minutes into her video, she's confronted by the first officer asking her to leave, one of many that come her way in the clip. One officer tells her she's in the way of their investigation, to which she replies, "I'm not in the way. I am in the same spot. You can't push me back. I need to film and I have a right to film."
Another officer tells her, "This is unsafe right now, you're right in the line of the fire. Go across the street and film all you want."
Paez, who later told CNN that she was terrified at the time, stood her ground. She asked the officers what was going on in her neighborhood. As officers approached her, she told them to stand back because she has a right as a citizen to feel safe.
That's when a U.S. Marshals lunged at Paez and smashed her phone. Another onlooker across the street filmed the entire incident and uploaded the video to YouTube.
Paez told NBC Los Angeles that she's been filming law enforcement in South gate for the past five months because she has "close friends with families of people who have died at the hands of police."
Mickey Osterreicher, an attorney with the National Press Photographers Association, told the Huffington Post last August during the Ferguson protests that it's legal to record or film police officers in any U.S. state as long as you don't interfere with their work.
The U.S. Marshals say that they are investigating the case. Congresswoman Janice Hahn, the U.S. representative for the district that includes South Gate, wants the Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation of the incident. She said what the U.S. Marshal did was illegal because Paez wasn't interfering with their investigation nor did she resist arrest.
“I was alarmed and upset by the actions of the law enforcement officer captured on the video,” Hahn said in a statement. “We must hold all who are sworn to protect and serve accountable and send a clear message that they are not beyond the law.”
Paez has since lawyered up and is planning to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Marshal who smashed her phone, the officers who idly watched the incident go down, and possibly the law enforcement agencies involved, her attorney Colleen Flynn told the L.A. Times.