U.S. Marshals Service reviewing incident of deputy smashing citizen's phone

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 22, 2015 4:11 PM

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The U.S. Marshals Service is reviewing an incident after a video posted on the Internet appeared to show one of its deputies snatching away and smashing the cell phone of a woman who was filming police and federal agents making arrests in a Los Angeles suburb.

Video taken by another bystander at Sunday's confrontation in the South Gate suburb in southeast Los Angeles and posted on YouTube showed the woman standing on a sidewalk aiming her phone at two officers a short distance away.

The woman can be heard saying, "You are making me feel unsafe, and I have a right to be here," just before a deputy marshal armed with a rifle comes into view and wrestles the device out of her hands as she protests.

In the video, the officer appears to throw the phone to the ground and stomp or kick it, then tells her, "There's your phone." Paez told the CNN network that she began filming when she saw law enforcement officers pointing automatic weapons at the heads of about eight people on a lawn near her home.

"It's my constitutional right to film and I was on a public sidewalk," Paez said in the interview.

The U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement the incident was under review. Agency spokeswoman Nikki Credic-Barrett said she did not know if any action had been taken against the deputy shown in the video.

She said the deputy marshals were taking part in a multi-agency fugitive task force operation involving reputed members of a motorcycle gang, but could provide no further details.

Colleen Flynn, an attorney for the National Lawyers Guild who is representing Paez, told CBS News that the video was evidence that her client's constitutional rights had been violated.

"What they wanted was to make sure that they were not held accountable, that nobody could see what actions they were taking," Flynn said of the confrontation with Paez.

South Gate Police Captain Darren Arakawa, whose department took part in the task force operation, said he was unaware of officers holding guns to suspects' heads, but did confirm that there were "a few people taken into custody on outstanding warrants."

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Alan Crosby)