Tampa man says cell phone video of police got him arrested
TAMPA - Jeff Patch, 27, was arrested while shooting cell phone video of a Tampa Police investigation in a public parking lot in May 2011. Police charged him with obstructing or opposing an officer.
Patch was recording the video in an Ybor City parking lot last May.
You can hear a police officer say on the video, "step back" and Patch responds, "Sir, I took two steps back."
The cell phone video is dark and shaky, but Patch says it shows two Tampa Police Officers investigating a fight in a public parking lot off 7th Avenue outside a nightclub.
"You're interfering with our investigation right now," you can hear one police officer say on the video. Patch responds, "I am not interfering with your investigation. Sir, I am recording and that is all."
You can also hear one officer tell Patch to move back. He says he followed those instructions, stepping away nearly 15 feet.
"I am just letting you know that I am recording this conversation," said Patch on the video. The officer responds, "Oh, can I take this from you?"
Patch says that's when one officer confiscated his cell phone and arrested him.
"My intention was only to record. Once they arrested me, I just went along with that because at that point, it was out of my hands," he said.
Patch was charged with obstructing or opposing an officer. The United States Navy veteran who served six years on an aircraft carrier says he did not know he was committing a crime.
"I just thought it'd be a good idea, for the protection of everybody," he explained.
Since his arrest, his attorney Jordan Tawil filed to have the charges dismissed, but the trial starts Thursday morning in Tampa.
"What works in his favor is he didn't offer to do violence to anyone and he didn't physically touch anyone in this investigation. There's no evidence that he threatened anyone," said Tawil.
Tampa Police say it can't talk about cases about to go to trial but a spokesperson points out Patch wasn't arrested for the cell phone video, he was arrested for his behavior.
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