When Sergio Gutierrez pulled out his iPhone to film an arrest taking place outside of The Greene Turtle on York Road in Towson late Saturday, he didn't expect the video would go viral.
But when Baltimore County police officers saw Gutierrez standing there among other bystanders, holding up the phone, they intervened.
"Everything was going fine for maybe, like, the first 10, 20 seconds or so," he said Wednesday, after the video was picked up and spread by the website, PhotographyIsNotACrime.com. "Then one of the police officers noticed that I was filming and approached me and told me to get out of his face.”
Gutierrez, a 21-year-old business technology administration major at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, asserted he was acting within his First Amendment rights and continued to film.
Footage from the 2 1/2-minute video shows several officers approaching Gutierrez and asking him to stop filming.
"Get the hell out of here," says one officer, who claimed Gutierrez was diverting his attention, and then appears to push him away from the scene.
"I've done nothing. I've done nothing wrong here," Gutierrez tells them in the video.
Gutierrez continued to film throughout the interaction.
"They didn’t really listen to me at all," he said. "They just kept pushing me. They gave me some excuse that I was distracting them but really I was just standing there.
"There were plenty of other people there standing around me. They were saying nothing to them, they were singling me out because I was filming.”
About halfway through the video, another officer approached Gutierrez.
"Do you see the police presence here? Do you see us all? We're not [expletive] around here," says the officer. "Do not disrespect us and do not not listen to us. Now walk away, and shut your [expletive] mouth or you're going to jail."
Gutierrez said he wasn't afraid of being arrested, even when the officer appeared to pin his hand behind his back.
"I thought I had freedom of speech here," Gutierrez tells the officer.
"You don't," the officer replies. "You just lost it."
The interaction with the officers ends there, and Gutierrez talks with other bystanders, who commend him for filming the entire incident.
And despite the altercation, Gutierrez said he encourages others to film police officers in similar situations in public.
"It protects the police, it protects civilians all around," he said. "Because when police see that they’re being recorded, they’ll perform their duties with, you know, more discretion.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun