30 Aug 2013

Leland, NC police officer suspended 28 days without pay for arresting teen who recorded another arrest

A Leland Police Department officer was suspended for 28 days without pay after arresting a teenager who was video-recording another arrest.
Sgt. John Keel arrested Gabriel Self, 19, on Aug. 18 while Self filmed him questioning a suspect outside the Buy & Go gas station, 9413 Ploof Road S.E.
Self's arrest spurred Leland Police Chief Mike James to conduct a department-wide workshop about its recording policy to avoid future incidents. Keel will receive additional training.
"(Citizens) can't interfere with what (police) have going on. You may ask them to step back a certain distance from a scene, but you can't prevent videoing or taking pictures," said David Hollis, Leland's town manager.
Self was getting gas when he Nathaniel Allen Ballard being arrested for a possession of drug paraphernalia warrant.
Self tried to get Ballard's attend and, when he couldn't, began recording.
Keel then approached him and, per the video, said, "I give you two seconds to get your tail out of here."
Self then moved inside the gas station and continued recording when Keel arrested him.
"I'm just glad I got what I got on camera," Self said.
Self was charged with resisting a public officer and booked into the Brunswick County jail. The charge has since been dropped.
The 28-day suspension is more severe than it should be, Self said.
"I think it's a little harsh," he said. "All I really wanted out of this situation was a handshake and an apology from that officer."
Self felt compelled to record the incident because of an experience where an officer allegedly forced him to show his ID without cause.
"I've had encounters with the Leland police before, and they weren't exactly good encounters," he said. "They have mainly used intimidation to get what they want and, as you can see, Sgt. Keel is no different."
In November 2011, Self was the passenger in a car that was stopped and, according to the police report, told the driver he was not obligated to produce his ID.
Self tells the story differently, saying his friend forgot his license when the officer making the stop asked Self to show his ID.
"I stated I did have my ID, but I wasn't willing to show it because I wasn't committing a crime or in suspicion of committing a crime," Self said. "He then asked if I was willing to go to jail that night."

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