Orlando CopWatch member Josh Leclair was physically assaulted by members of the Orlando Police Department last night. According to an e-mail from another Orlando CopWatch member: "Josh was 'detained' after being thrown to the ground by OPD tonight while filming a traffic stop. He has scrapes on his face, shoulder and arm. We have Josh's video plus a friend's who was filming Josh with his cell phone. ... He's ok and not in jail."
By coincidence(?), Josh and Orlando CopWatch member Mark Stevens had appeared yesterday on George Crossley's radio program PEOPLE POWER HOUR (WAMT-AM 1190, Saturdays 2-3 p.m.) to talk about CopWatch.
More details will be reported as they become available.
UPDATE 1: Josh explains that he was outside a friend's house, around 1:30 a.m., observing a traffic stop by OPD of a pick-up truck with two men, one of them drunken and belligerent. He was standing 30 feet away when an OPD officer ordered him to go inside the house. When Josh repeatedly asserted his legal right to observe the police on a public street, the officer ordered a lower-ranking officer to "detain" and handcuff Josh, who at that point was walking away. So the other officer tackled Josh, handcuffed him and sat him on a curb. Subsequently, an OPD captain showed up. Josh attempted to explain the situation to him, but the captain's attitude at first was that he wasn't going to believe Josh over one of his officers. However, after Josh showed the captain videotape he had taken of the incident, which backed up Josh's contention that he wasn't "interfering" in any way with the police (as the officer who ordered him handcuffed had contended), the captain ordered Josh released. Josh has photos of the abrasions and contusions he suffered while being "detained," and says he intends to pursue a formal complaint against the officer who ordered him to be "detained."
Josh says that the officers didn't appear to be doing anything inappropriate during the traffic stop itself. If the one officer hadn't reacted the way he did, the whole incident would have ended uneventfully as far as Orlando CopWatch is concerned. Law enforcement officers have no reason to be uneasy about Orlando CopWatch as long as they do their jobs properly and don't break the law or violate citizens' rights.