Arizona police officer Joseph Patterson has been disciplined for threatening a 12-year-old journalist with arrest for filming him, even though she was doing nothing illegal, The Hill is reporting. The girl in question, however, held her ground and even confronted the officer for trying to intimidate her by citing nonexistent laws.
Hilde Lysiak considers herself a journalist, publishing her own newspaper and website, The Orange Street News, out of her Pennsylvania home. For reasons that are not clear, she was in Patagonia, Arizona on Monday, “investigating a tip” as she claims. For what it’s worth, The Hill notes that Lysiak had been in town interviewing residents about border security.
Regardless, she was confronted by Patterson, who asked her to identify herself. Lysiak says she told Patterson, who is the town’s marshal (described by The Hill as a position roughly equivalent to Chief of Police), that she is a member of the press and that she gave her name and phone number.
Patterson was not having it, says Hilde.
“I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff.”
He then reportedly threatened to have her arrested and “thrown into juvie” (juvenile detention). When she asked why, he reportedly said “for disobeying my command.”
NOTE TO READERS: A lot of people are guessing my whether I am pro-wall or against the wall. I don't believe it is professional for a journalist to share political opinions. I think reporting should be about facts. Thank you for reading. https://t.co/MwX9aLVhLj— Hilde Lysiak (@orangestreetnew) February 15, 2019
What happened next is unclear, but apparently Patterson drove off. However, the two somehow crossed paths again. This time, Hilde confronted him about their earlier encounter.
“You stopped me earlier and you said that I can be thrown in juvie. What exactly am I doing that’s illegal?”
This time, Patterson objected to being filmed, and told the young lady that it’s illegal to film someone in Arizona without their permission, and that further, it’s illegal to film police and put their faces on the internet. Neither of those things is true, as Hilde pointed out to him, correctly, that it’s perfectly legal in all 50 states to film police, as long as you’re not interfering with their work, and to put the video on the internet.
Patterson continued to try to intimidate the young lady.
“You can lie to your mother, you can lie to your father, you can lie to your priest, but you can’t lie to a law enforcement officer. I’ll be getting a hold of your parents.”
He then drove off. Hilde captured the whole thing on video.
After Hilde posted the story and video on her website, and The Washington Post reported her story, the city managers of Patagonia received a deluge of phone calls and emails about the incident. In a statement, the town reported that Patterson has been “disciplined,” but declined to provide further information, citing employee privacy.
“The matter has been carefully reviewed and we have taken action we believe to be appropriate for the situation. We do not publicly disclose personnel actions including discipline and will have no further comment on this matter.”
Though it is legal to film police in all 50 states, not all police officers are aware of that, or perhaps some are aware but try to intimidate people who are filming them regardless. YouTube, for example, is filled with videos of police attempting to prevent people from filming them, and indeed, in some cases even attempting to seize or block their cameras. Sometimes people are even illegally detained and/or arrested for filming police.