NYPD officer knocks guy off bike, caught on YouTube video

July 30, 2008

Patrick Pogan is the officer who shoved the bicyclist, who luckily was not seriously injured.  Pogan reportedly has been suspended pending an investigation.  (More)

Judge orders “fire in the hole” pranksters to apologize on YouTube

June 10, 2008

News:  My buddy Doug Berman has already blogged about this interesting story involving YouTube and criminal sentencing.  Two teenagers in Florida pulled a “fire in the hole” prank at a Taco Bell.  Basically, the kids went through the drive-thru and then, before leaving, threw a soda at the employee through the window, yelling “fire in the hole.”  The boys captured the prank on video and posted it on YouTube.

Well, the Taco Bell employee did some great detective work on YouTube and then located the boys on MySpace and then called their mothers.  According to the news report, “as part of their sentence, the teens had to write, film, and post their video apology on YouTube, as well as pay $30 to clean the restaurant and serve 100 hours of community service.”

The Taco Bell employee said that she wants a face-to-face apology, however.

Here’s the apology:

16 year old Florida girl turns to YouTube for help claiming she was raped by 23 year old, but state won’t prosecute the guy

May 16, 2008

More from CNN.

Does YouTube have a “girl fight” problem?

October 11, 2007

News: In Norwood Middle School, in a suburb in Ohio, a 13-year-old eighth grader beat up a 12-year-old girl in the locker room. The 13-year-old had her friend videotape the beating and it was later posted on YouTube. After much complaining, the victim’s parents and school officials eventually got the video removed from YouTube. But it still exists in a news video posted by a Cincinnati news station.

Video contains violence: viewer discretion advised

Analysis: This is a serious problem. Schools need to investigate why teenagers are engaging in this kind of behavior and develop a “zero tolerance” policy. And YouTube needs to get more involved, too. If you type in “girl fight” on YouTube, there seem to be numerous videos of young girls fighting. (I’m guessing there are videos of guys fighting, too.) I haven’t watched all these fight videos (it’s possible some have already been removed), but here’s one video that is shockingly still up on YouTube. The video was posted a year ago on YouTube and has over 880,000 views. I debated whether even to include the video, but I concluded that it may help to focus attention on what’s really going on.

Video contains violence and profanity: viewer discretion advised

I’m not sure what exactly is the right answer. Obviously, you want to stop these fights from happening. But if you can’t, there is some benefit in having a video — it’s powerful evidence that law enforcement can later use to catch and prosecute the perpetrators.

Florida student tasered for disturbance at Kerry speech–video on YouTube

September 18, 2007

News: This video provided by The Gainesville Sun. A longer version is below. The University of Florida student appeared to be disruptive and at the very least, rude. It’s hard to imagine why he got so worked up about John Kerry, of all people. Apparently, Andrew Meyer has his own websites and makes prank videos, so maybe he wanted all the publicity. More from Washington Post.

Here are two more videos:

Audio of police interrogation of Sen. Larry Craig on YouTube

August 31, 2007

To be honest, I was surprised by the audio. I found it more helpful to Senator Craig’s side than the police’s, at least after all the negative media portrayal of what happened. Throughout the police interview, Senator Craig maintains his innocence. His story sounded at least halfway plausible. If I were on a jury, I would like to hear some testimony from several witnesses proving the meaning of the putative “bathroom signals” to solicit sex.  That would have been crucial to the prosecution’s case, had this gone to trial.

Columbus police officer reassigned after making racist videos on YouTube

August 29, 2007

News:  The Columbus Police Department reassigned patrol officer Susan Purtee (60) to a desk job after she made several racist videos (along with her sister, Barbara Gordon-Bell), railing against Jews and blacks. (More here)  The Police Department is considering whether further action should be taken against the officer.  The two sisters posted the racist videos on their personal website, thepatriotdames.com.  They were also posted on YouTube under the name “subie sisters.”  You can view the YouTube videos here.

Below is one of their anti-Semitic videos, which they describe as follows:  “The Subie Sisters explore the thinking of the present day Jew and why that might contribute to the destruction of American society.”

Warning: the video contains racist, hate speech.  I debated whether to include this video, but I think readers need to know what kind of content it contains.

Analysis:   I was interviewed yesterday by a local radio station about whether the officer can be disciplined or whether her speech is protected by the First Amendment.  The short answer is:  Under Supreme Court case law, I believe the Columbus Police Department can discipline Officer Purtee — even fire her — without any First Amendment problem.  (I can’t speak to the City’s internal employee regulations or code of conduct.) 

The test under the First Amendment for speech by a public employee is twofold: (1) “Whether the employee spoke as a citizen on a matter of public concern,” and (2) if so, “whether the government entity had an adequate justification for treating the employee differently from any other member of the general public,” such as restricting “speech that has some potential to affect the entity’s operations.”  Garcetti v. Ceballos, 126 S. Ct. 1951, 1958 (2006).

In this case, it’s at least debatable whether the speech in the videos involve a “matter of public concern.”  If they don’t, then there’s no First Amendment claim for the public employee.  But even if they do involve matters of public concern, the government has discretion to restrict speech that has some potential to affect the entity’s operations.  In this case, the Columbus Police Department would have a very strong basis to conclude that racially incendiary videos disseminated by a police officer — even while off-duty — can undermine the public’s trust and confidence in the police department, and in the fair and equal administration of law enforcement.  Courts would give a lot of leeway to the police department in this kind of case.