Navy vet arrested after taping police on cell phone

July 25th, 2011 by Staff

Tampa, Florida – He says he served our country overseas to protect basic freedoms like the First Amendment, but one Navy vet says he ended up getting arrested for taping police officers in Ybor City.

Jeff Patch took the video on his cell phone, and while the video will not win any awards as it is shaky and dark, the audio is clear. You can hear the exchange between Patch and the police officers. Initially, Patch was too close to the officers for their comfort, but by the time he was arrested, Patch had backed up at least 15 feet from where police were trying to question a witness.

At the beginning of the tape, you hear the officer scream, “Get out from behind me.” Patch says he is sorry and walks off to the side. Then the police officer asks, “Why are you recording?”

Patch says, “I think not only is it my right, but I think it is my duty.”

That’s why Jeff Patch says he taped the late night Ybor City incident outside the club in May. He says the police officers didn’t like it. But even after Patch stepped at least 15 feet away, the officers came over, confiscated his cell phone, and arrested him.

On the recording, you hear Patch say, “I’m just letting you know I am recording.”

The police officer says, “Can I take this from you.” Then, the officer arrests Patch.

Patch’s attorney, Jordan Tawil, says he thinks the video tells it all. Tawil says the federal courts have ruled citizens have a right to tape police officers in public places.

He adds, “There are several cases on point where people have been arrested for taping police and the courts have said that is a violation of their First Amendment their constitutional rights.”

Despite the fact the officer had told Patch to turn off the video and he had moved away from them before being arrested, Tampa Police say the video had nothing to do with him being taken into custody. Spokesperson Andrea Davis says, “It was not what he was doing, but rather it was that he was continually talking and making them unable to hear the victim.”

Davis says if Patch was quietly taping he would not have been arrested, but Patch, who spent six years in the Navy, says he doesn’t buy it.

He says,”I spent part of my life protecting the values of this country and then when I come home I have to protect myself.”

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