Miami Photographer Briefly Arrested for Taking Pictures at Scene of Motorcycle Accident


An interesting story out of Miami, Florida that involves street photography and police restriction of that activity.

man wearing black officer uniform
Photo by Rosemary Ketchum

Photographer Jacob Katel says that his equipment was seized and he was briefly arrested for taking pictures of the scene of a motorcycle accident. According to the report by FStoppers, Katel came upon the scene of the crash and left his car to start photographing it. Not long after he left his car to start taking pictures, Katel says, he was approached by a police officer that told him to stop. For what it is worth, FStoppers reports that Katel is a freelance media photographer.

According to the account shared by Katel with online publications, he says that he was polite and complied with all instructions given to him by the police officer. He also says that he was initially given permission to shoot from the sidewalk but then that permission was revoked by a second officer who promptly placed him under arrest and seized his equipment in the process. He also claims that he offered to leave the scene without incident.

He wasn’t detained for very long but his equipment was kept as “evidence” for a couple of days. Arguing that his First Amendment rights as well as the policy of the Miami Police itself being violated when he was briefly detained, Katel filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs and the Civilian Investigative Panel that read in part: “If the officers intend to have a good standing in the community, they should be proud for the public to see them at work. And if they are doing nothing wrong, they should be OK with a reasonable curiosity toward their activities.”

Of course, this story brings up interesting issues in the United States of when and where you should take pictures, even if you have the right to do so. We would love to hear your opinions on this issue in the comments below.


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Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

I wouldn’t choose to travel to the US.
It’s not solely because of the way [some of] the cops behave.
But the behaviour of police towards other people is so totally unpredictable – instead of reliable – that I would not feel as safe as I do in other countries.
Having your camera grabbed and not returned for two days – being arrested, however briefly – would be the least of my concerns.
There are way too many reports of cops shooting innocent people, and plenty of other countries where this stuff doesn’t happen all the time.

It will be interesting to see what the result (if any) comes from his filed complaint. I’m guessing a mild apology or vague explanation will occur. Law enforcement employees should be aware of the rights of people to photograph in public areas. If a “photographer” is pushing the boundaries of decency, such as trying to get close ups of a bloody victim, then they should be asked or told to get away. Otherwise, allow them to act within the law.

The photographer is now interviewing several lawyers who are eager to sue the police for violation of his 1st Amendment, violation of his 4th Amendment: unlawful arrest and excessive force. Sue the town, the police and the taxpayers: it is about rights and justice… and a new photocamera, new more powerful lenses, a well deserved vacation and a downpayment on a house… but you know, mostly about rights.

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