LI Man Claims He Was Arrested For Videotaping Violent Police Encounter

CENTER MORICHES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island man claims videotaping police in action got him arrested.

“I am 100 percent innocent. I didn’t do anything wrong. I was just there to videotape,” Thomas Demint told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

Demint said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. While at the Center Moriches home of a friend, he witnessed a confrontation with Suffolk County police officers and pulled out his cell phone to record.

The volatile encounter began with Suffolk police called to the home by a mother reporting her son was trying to commit suicide, Gusoff reported.

Demint’s 8-minute-long video shows two sons cursing, appearing to resist arrest and their mother also tangling with police.

Then, Demint said police tasered the mother by mistake. Later, it appears officers pull down one of the sons who was in handcuffs. The 80 pound mother raises her arm and she gets knocked to the ground, Gusoff reported.

“I’m videotaping this. I’m just videotaping,” Demint says in the video.

After the video ends, Demint claims police handcuffed and arrested him.

“I was tackled to the ground. They told me to stop resisting and I was like ‘I’m not resisting, I’m not resisting,'” he said. “The other police officer came over and took my phone, tried to delete the last video.”

Now, the 20-year-old community college student is speaking out. In the year since his arrest, he claims he’s been the victim of petty traffic stops. His phone was also confiscated by police for six weeks.

Attorney Ken Mollins said he will fight the charges of obstructing justice and resisting arrest.

“He was so within the law that you can’t be more within the law,” Mollins said. “In fact, he didn’t have to, but he did tell them he was videotaping.”

Suffolk County police released a statement regarding the recording and Demint’s accusations on Wednesday, saying:

“Suffolk County Police officers responded to a Center Moriches home after a 911 caller reported an adult male was attempting suicide on May 21, 2014 at approximately 11:10 a.m. When police arrived, officers attempted to administer aid to the suicidal man when his family intervened. While police were attempting to calm down those involved, Thomas Demint interfered with officers by shouting obscenities toward police officers and paramedics as well as entering the scene several times after he was told not to. Mr. Demint’s actions diverted officers’ attention away from the suicidal man and Mr. Demint had to be physically escorted away from the scene. Mr. Demint was placed under arrest for Obstructing Governmental Administration and Resisting Arrest.

The Suffolk County Police Department has not received a complaint from Mr. Demint nor have we received a copy of the video. Department officials will reach out to Mr. Demint regarding his claims. A thorough investigation will be conducted into Mr. Demint’s complaint to find out exactly what happened.

The Suffolk County Police Department respects the civil rights of all members of the public. These rights extend to bystanders at police scenes; however, bystanders must not interfere with police operations or create a safety risk to the public. Bystanders may record video as long as they do not enter restricted areas, interfere with police operations, violate any laws or compromise the safety of officers.”

Demint is due back in court in September. He said after he fights criminal charges, he will sue for false arrest and a violation of his civil rights.

The two sons and mother shown in the video pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

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