SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Jose Ramirez-Medina is a self-proclaimed “cop watcher.”
For the past three years he follows police and video records them in action.
He has a Youtube channel where he posts the videos. He’s recorded law enforcement throughout Utah.
“I just wanted to say I’ve always had good things to say about West Valley police,” he said in a 2018 post. “They never, never messed with me what so ever since I started.”
But he said that right after filing a complaint at the police department. It involved one of his late-night recordings of West Valley City police.
“Really, really? you’re going to blind me with the lights?” Ramirez-Medina could be heard saying in one of his posts with police.
It was an incident similar to the one with West Valley Co police He claimed one of the officers used his spotlight and aimed it directly at him while filming. It nearly blinded him, infuriating Ramirez-Medina.
It led to a confrontation with the officer. He called 911 but according to Ramirez-Medina, the officer called the dispatcher to complain that he was a frequent abuser of 911 calls.
“I am going to file a complaint on him and everybody,” Ramirez-Medina said in his Youtube post. “I am going to do all that stuff, especially the sergeant. I am going to court because I got a ticket for abusing 911 calls.”
Three months later, the charges for abusing the emergency 911 system were dropped by the West Valley City prosecutor. In court documents, the prosecutor claimed “in the interest of justice,” charges will be dismissed.
Now, Ramirez-Medina is suing West Valley City police for violating his civil rights. He is seeking monetary damages to recover attorney costs.
According to the lawsuit, Ramirez never had called 911 before.
“It was just a completely made up story that was used to justify the bringing of these charges,” said his attorney Karra Porter. “He had to hire a defense attorney and defend him in the case when he knew that it was just a made up story.”
Nearly every city in the nation has so-called “cop watchers.” Shortly after the Rodney King police beating in Los Angeles, citizens have taken to recording police to make sure they’re playing by the book.
A former deputy sheriff and now a private investigator and an adjunct professor of criminal justice said there isn’t anything wrong with public recordings.
“As long as they’re not interfering with what we have, our task at hand,” said Chris Bertram who retired from the Unified Police Department. “You have to remember there is time and place.”
He said police have a right to keep people away from dangerous situations like a hostage situation or where gunfire has been exchanged.
Bertram said he doesn’t know all the details about the West Valley City incident involving Ramirez-Medina. But he said the officer may have had a history of dealing with Ramirez causing him to write the citation.
“Their job is to investigate, to put a good investigation together to find if there’s enough charges and if necessary to make an arrest or write a citation and let the prosecutor … have a broader look,” Bertram said.
Ramirez-Medina hasn’t let the West Valley City incident dampen his zeal to “cop watch.” He continues to video record police.
A spokesperson for West Valley City Police Department said they have not seen the lawsuit and have no comment.
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