4:12 pm
Fair, 69°
     News Flash    Tuesday, March 28, 2023
News Flash Subscribe to News Flash Emails
No investigation in latest illegal arrest

Monday, August 15, 2016, 11:15 am News Flash Archive

The City of Greenwood did not conduct an internal affairs investigation into the illegal arrest of Jelani Barr on May 29, 2016, even though it was publicly known that the officer involved, Lt. Perry Hines, violated city policy when he tried to intimidate the victim from photographing the police at the time.

According to Mayor Carolyn McAdams, no investigation took place, because nobody filed a complaint.

Barr was arrested for the third time in 15 months on trumped up charges in retaliation for exercising constitutional rights protected by the First Amendment. The latest case against him collapsed when city judge Carlos Palmer summarily dismissed the charges against him on June 15th. See Another illegal arrest by Greenwood police thrown out by judge

As first reported by The Taxpayers Channel on June 27, 2016, Lt. Hines had attempted to intimidate Mr. Barr from filming the police in Whittington Park by telling him, quite untruthfully, that the Supreme Court had ruled that citizens have no right to video tape the police in the performance of their duties. When Barr walked away from Hines, he told the officer to "get his facts straight, you dumb-ass." Hines then illegally arrested Barr for supposedly using "public profanity." Barr's comment to the officer was, in fact, fully within his rights under the First Amendment.

The Greenwood Police Department has a history of repeatedly intimidating reporters and citizens from photographing or videotaping officers in public places. The Taxpayers Channel has now documented six such instances since January 2015.

In late 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote Greenwood Police Chief Ray Moore urging him to ensure that the civil rights of the citizens to film the police were upheld. Chief Moore assured the ACLU in writing that this was the case. Moore stated in part: "I have a standing order that private citizens have a right to video or audio record any public police activity." He further stated that this policy was addressed in staff and safety meetings. See the exchange of letters here: ACLU, Moore Letters

But three times in 2015, Greenwood police officers attempted to intimidate a reporter for the Greenwood Commonwealth from taking photographs. The Taxpayers Channel obtained copies of emails between reporter Bryn Stole and Chief Ray Moore, describing the three instances where officers tried to stop Stole from taking photographs of the police. In some of the instances, officers threatened lawsuits if photographs were published. The emails may be viewed here: Bryn Stole, Ray Moore emails

Jelani Barr has himself been arrested three different times during the last year and a half, in each instance, in retaliation for, or related to, his taking videos or publishing photographs of police officers in public places. For the two prior instances, see Jelani Barr Arrested for Facebook Post and Greenwood Settles Jelani Barr Civil Rights Lawsuit.

On April 8, 2015, the day after Barr's first arrest for video taping officers at a traffic stop, Chief Ray Moore went so far as to issue the department's first written policy memo laying out the public's right to film the police. Moore wrote:

"This is just a reminder that this department has a standing order that private citizens or the news media has [sic] a right to photograph, video or audio record any public police activity as long as they do not interfere with the investigation being conducted."

See Chief Moore's memo here: Chief Ray Moore Memo, April 8, 2015.

The Taxpayers Channel contacted Mayor McAdams and Chief Moore on June 25th, and asked whether an internal investigation into Lt. Hines' misconduct had started. Neither McAdams nor Moore replied to this question at that time.

On June 27, our article describing Hines' misconduct was published. On June 28th, the Greenwood Commonwealth also reported Hines' statement to Barr relative to his right to video the police in public.

Hines' last day on the job was July 13th.

After a third request for comment, Mayor McAdams finally replied to The Taxpayers Channel's question regarding an internal affairs investigation. On August 5th, she wrote:

"An investigation was not submitted to internal affairs officer because no complaint was filed against the procedure of the arrest made on June 27th [sic-actually May 29] from Mr. Barr. .... When complaints are filed they are review and investigated as quickly as possible. I hope all citizens know that we have an open door policy throughout all the departments of our city."

What training is taking place to stop the Greenwood Police Department from violating the civil liberties of the citizens with respect to video taping the police and exercising freedom of expression in dealing with the police?

We put that question to both McAdams and Chief Moore back on June 25th. Mayor McAdams replied on the same day that:

"The Chief was told his officers should be trained on how to handle the public on situations of this nature and be well versed on the law in these circumstances."

As to whether the city's policy about filming the police remains unchanged, McAdams wrote:

"Chief Moore's memorandum issued on April 8, 2015 regarding 'Private Citizens and the Media' is definitely still in effect with the GPD. All officers are trained and reminded of this policy regarding the rights of a citizen filming the police. Also, I have not had a complaint filed at City Hall regarding this matter."

As for Chief Moore, we asked these same questions repeatedly to him, but he did not favor us with the courtesy of a reply.

The public might well ask this question: why did the city of Greenwood not commence an internal affairs investigation on its own once it found out that its policy regarding filming the police had, once again, been broken by a mid-level, experienced officer of the Greenwood Police Department?

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

News Flash Archive