Moments after she was laid off from a grocery store in San Diego last March, Cynthia Hartman came upon a scene in the parking lost where almost five police cruisers with guns drawn, surrounded a car. Like everyone is wont to do nowadays, she pulled out her cell phone and pressed record. One of the sheriff's deputies told her (and the woman she was with) to move back. To which she replied: "I'm just videotaping." The deputy told her she could continue recording "but back off." The deputy warned her if she doesn't move, she will be arrested for obstruction of justice. Cynthia is then heard on the video saying: "They probably will try to arrest me for videotaping this, but whatever." She continued recording. After the situation regarding the individuals in the car was diffused, one of the deputies called Cynthia over and detained her. Cynthia called up the local TV station and recalled what she told the deputy. "I said, 'What am I being arrested for?'" she recalled. "He said for not backing up. I said I did back up, he said, not far enough." She claims the cops were "irritated that everyone was out watching and I recorded them hold guns to people that were obviously complying with everything they said." She was cited -- not arrested -- for obstruction of justice. The charge was dropped, however, by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office before she went to court. The San Diego sheriff's office disputes Cynthia's account and issued this statement:
During the course of a felony hot stop wherein five suspects were inside a vehicle, these two women decided to video-record the law enforcement action. There were several deputies on scene, with guns drawn. The two women were in a position where, if shots were fired, they could have been injured or killed -- approximately 20-25 feet. One of the deputies had to take his eyes off the suspects' vehicle to yell over to the women to move. He clearly stated he did not mind them video-taping, but for their safety, they needed to move to another location. They were in the line of fire. It was not clear if any or all of the suspects in the car had guns. There was no issue with them recording the action. While the women did move their location, they returned shortly thereafter to continue their filming of the hot stop. After the suspects in the car were finally arrested, one of the deputies walked over to the two women to cite them for 148 pc. They were released from the scene shortly thereafter. One of the women apologized to the deputy for ignoring his order -- that she got caught up in the moment and was not thinking. She went on to say she could tell from the video that guns were pointed in their direction. She heard the deputy tell her it was okay for her to video record the scene. The other woman told the deputy he would be sorry. Additionally, there was no use of force involving the women. This action was taken for the safety of the two women. An additional risk factor involved the lights from their video recorders, which made them easily seen, and a target. The report was submitted to the DA's office.We could be wrong, but we have a hunch that Cynthia's interview with this local TV station about an incident that happened in March is a precursor to a wrongful arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit. Gurl, good night!