Man arrested for photographing unrelated arrest

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006

On July 19th, 2006, Philadelphia police took a 21-year old student, Neftaly Cruz into custody for photographing the arrest of an alleged drug dealer in his neighborhood.

Roused by commotion in his neighborhood, Cruz saw the street outside his house lined with police vehicles and proceeded to photograph the event with his camera phone. Soon after, one of the police officers walked onto his property, grabbed his hand, placed him in handcuffs and drove off with him. Gerrell Martin, a neighborhood woman, witnessed and confirmed these events. She recalls the officer said to Cruz while restraining him, "You should have just went in the house and minded your own business instead of trying to take pictures off your picture phone."

According to Cruz, "They threatened to charge me with conspiracy, impeding an investigation, obstruction of an investigation. They said, 'You were impeding this investigation.' (I asked,) 'By doing what?' (The officer said,) 'By taking a picture of the police officers with a camera phone.'"

After detaining him for over an hour, Philadelphia Police finally released him with a warning that, according to Cruz, "if the supervisor was there I wouldn't be a free man and that he is letting me go because he felt that I was a good person."