An activist sparked an investigation in Memphis after a cop stopped him from filming a police encounter with a Black civilian.
Two police officers — one in uniform and one in plainclothes —began questioning an unidentified Black man just after he asked for a job application at a local restaurant around 7 p.m. on June 6, activist Hunter Demster told FOX 13 Memphis. Alarms went off in Demster’s head, prompting him to start videotaping the encounter, not unlike several people of color who have documented police exchanges involving African Americans. However, the activist was met with hostility from one of the officers.
“They didn’t like that they were on camera, and they didn’t like the idea of being held accountable,” Demster told FOX13.
It’s important to note that the Memphis-area activist was not particularly close to the officers when he started filming video. In fact, he was about 15 feet away. Yet, the unnamed officer promptly shut down Demster as if he were a criminal, suggesting that the involved officers may have been committing some kind of misconduct. One of the cops actually reached for Demster’s phone and told him that he was interfering with an investigation before the video cut off, Fox 13 reported.
The incident begs the question of if the officer was in violation of the Memphis Police Department’s policy pertaining to civilians filming police encounters. The MPD is very strict in saying that officers are not allowed to “order a person to stop such activity or demand the person state a reason why they are recording.” Bystanders can “express criticism of the police activity as long as it does not jeopardize the officer, suspect or cause interference,” according to MPD policy.
Demster filed an internal investigations complaint after the officer reprimanded him, asking for all officers to be held accountable for their actions.