@MMikkelsen, who is making a name for himself in the Kansas City area standing up against the unconstitutional practices of local police, ran face-to-face with the Kansas City Missouri Police Department and Missouri Highway Patrol early Saturday morning. MMikkelsen often arms himself with the tools of his trade: an iPhone and a piece of poster board. Through the use of social media, he is able to find the locations of DUI checkpoints in the area. He then drives to the location, sometimes holding up a sign warning oncoming drivers that there is a checkpoint ahead. MMikkelsen also takes video footage of the checkpoint and streams it live. His followers on Twitter are notified with a link to an online site that streams his video. This method also keeps a copy of the video on the website if for some reason his camera is confiscated.
Early Saturday morning of June 11, he was confronted by KCMO police and MO Highway Patrol who claimed that he could not film the checkpoint because he did not have the consent of the police officers. The checkpoint was being conducted at 76th & Troost. One officer then said he was administering a “Terry Stop” on him. His argument was that he felt threatened because MMikkelsen was pointing a camera at him.
The term “Terry Stop” originated from the case Terry v Ohio. In that case the US Supreme Court found
392 U.S. 1 (1968), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court which held that the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures is not violated when a police officer stops a suspect on the street and frisks him without probable cause to arrest, if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime and has a reasonable belief that the person “may be armed and presently dangerous.” (392 U.S. 1, at 30.)
It is also pointed out in this ruling that police cannot search the individual based only on a hunch that the suspect has a weapon. They must have some evidence of this. In this case, if the officer thought that MMikkelsen was pointing a weapon rather than a camera, that notion was quickly dispelled as soon as he approached to see the camera. Where is the reasonable suspicion of a crime or concealing a weapon?
Watch the confrontation for yourself. It is at 2:50 in the video.
The situation concluded with MMikkelsen leaving the scene after being told he could not continue to film. The Missouri HP officer who conducted the interrogation told MMikkelsen that if he saw himself on Youtube, he was going to sue. Good luck with that. There is no protection under the law for police to be filmed in a public place in the course of their duties. It is fascinating that this officer, a public servant, would make this claim when KCMO has cameras operating all over the city recording the movements of it’s citizens — without their consent. If you have ever been to the Kansas City Power & Light District, you will notice cameras on every corner. What about the new ear-mounted camera technology? Will KCMO and MOHP reject this technology for privacy concerns?
Ironically, less than an hour after MMikkelsen was told to leave the scene, a KCMO worker was carried on the hood of a car after someone caught in the checkpoint decided they wanted to avoid it. KCMO police are looking for citizens to come forward with information on this vehicle. Perhaps they would have photographic evidence if MMikkelsen had been there filming.