Photographer Arrested in Seattle Gets $8,000

What did this photographer do to get arrested? Took pictures of police officers arresting somebody else. It is after things like this that the term jack booted thugs comes to mind.

An amateur photographer who was taken into custody last year after shooting pictures of two Seattle police officers making an arrest on a public street received an $8,000 settlement this week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington announced Thursday.

The photographer, Bogdan Mohora, later was released and was never charged with a crime. The two officers who arrested him were disciplined, according to police.[…]

Mohora said the woman told him she believed the arrest of her friend was wrong, and that he was being arrested on a warrant that had been quashed. She asked Mohora about obtaining copies of the photos, he said.

Two officers, James Pitts and David Toner, then ordered Mohora to hand over his camera, according to ACLU staff attorney Aaron Caplan, who handled the case. Mohora said that when he asked what he had done wrong, the officers handcuffed him and took his camera, wallet and satchel. They then drove him to a holding cell at the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct, Mohora said.

When he was released about an hour later, he said, he was told that he could be charged with disturbing the peace, provoking a riot or endangering a police officer.[…]

“Being arrested for simply being a witness to police activity was frightening and humiliating,” Mohora wrote in a claim he later filed against the city. “It bothers me to think that police can abuse their authority by arresting innocent witnesses and then not even make standard police reports to document what happened.”

Hey its a free country right? Right? Well maybe not so much anymore. Given that these cops are paid with public money, are working on public streets and are not acting as agents for the government which is supposedly “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, we should have the right to photograph them while they are on the job.

Via Radley Balko.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Media, , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m surprised that you don’t see the inconsistency between the position you’re taking in this post and in the one above, Steve. In this post you’re saying that law enforcement officers shouldn’t exceed their authority and in the post above you’re saying they should.

    My own view is that law enforcement officers should just enforce the law. They don’t make the law, interpret the law, or preserve order. That’s the job of the legislatures and courts.

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    I see no inconsistency. In both cases common sense and respect for citizens is missing. Both go to the modern training methods and goals.

    Cops are trained to control situations even if that means trampling the rights of law abiding citizens. It should have been a lot more than $8,000 awarded. The officers involved should pay a price as well.

  3. Christopher says:

    The 60’s again? Time to burn your bra, Steve.

  4. independent says:

    Hey, waddya expect? Everyone with a camera, road map, or common household tool is considered at high risk for being a crazy politically motivated serial killer (terrorist!)

    I think photographers are the most dangerous… they can get information about the police to the people. We can’t have that, or Youtube would get filled up with taser videos and hundreds of documented cases of unjustifiable police brutality and abused power.

    Oops, too late.

  5. RWB says:

    People photographing law enforcement could be gathering terrorist intelligence. The logic here is every bit as sound as arresting people photographing public buildings in New York City. In times of war the first amendment does not hold, as a matter of fact, until The Homeland is safe again, freedom of speech is very dangerous. For example, a few weeks ago I read three separate news articles that appeared to be routine reporting of events at airports. From the information in these reports one could formulate a viable plan for getting weapons on a plane and for identifying and neutralizing any air marshals on the plane. This is a very dangerous thing. We need to have the Government censor ALL news published in the USA so that we do not inadvertently supply intelligence to the terrorists. By hampering our heroes of 911 by reporting like this you are going to get us all killed.

  6. anjin-san says:

    the government which is supposedly “of the people, by the people, and for the people”

    Times have changed. This is George Bush’s America, where we have government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

  7. legion says:

    Wow. I’m actually agreeing with Steve Plunk on both this and the airport-gun issue.

    In both cases common sense and respect for citizens is missing. Both go to the modern training methods and goals.

    It seems that police used to be trained to defuse situations with psychology and avoid confrontation whenever possible. Now, casual brutality is almost taken for granted (at least in some jurisdictions), with tasers and pepper spray becoming first-line answers to any issue officers are confronted with. I know those tools are supposed to reduce the risks to those officers, but guess what – taking risks in the service & protection of regular citizens is what they swore to do when they picked up those badges. Just like people in the military swear to uphold & defend the Constitution, there are some risks they just have to accept. And when they take shortcuts, or abuse their power, it tends to get me riled up.

    I don’t mean to sound too harsh – I’m sure there are plenty (even in my own community) of police who are competent, hard-working, and dedicated to the principles of the force. But they’re not the ones who get news articles written about them, now are they?

  8. Steve Plunk says:

    Why thank you legion. I think we could agree on a great many things while still being able to disagree about a great many more. As much as we all argue we are essentially more similar than different.

    Anjin-san, George Bush doesn’t train these officers, the local city council is the responsible party. I’ve said it before, our civil rights are in greater peril from our local government than the federal government.

    This is not about terrorism either. It’s about power and control by people who are not trained properly to use it. Let’s not make a federal case out of this.

  9. Steve Verdon says:


    The only problem with your “thesis” is that this trend has been going on for a long time. Under Clinton, and Bush, Reagan, and…well back to when Daryl Gates came up with the idea of SWAT units and the police started to become more militarized.

    Go to any police BB and they will talk about “civilians” as if they are a group apart. An unfortunate and dangerous mindset that seems to be fostered amongst just about every police department. When the cops start to see it as an “Us vs. Them” and we start to see it as an “Us. vs. Them” then it is a very bad sign.