What are the laws regarding confiscation of cell phones used in the recording of a potential criminal incident? As the phone owner, what the police can and cannot do should not be open to interpretation. Does the owner of the device have any rights or options?

And what about the person coming first upon the scene of an accident, who chooses to use the phone to capture pictures, instead of first rendering assistance? Are there consequences?

From an emailed press release and the KPD Facebook page:

On April 8, 2020 at about 6:15 pm, officers responded to 24 S Quay St, Kennewick, WA for the report of a DV (domestic violence) order violation in progress. The first two officers on scene attempted to contact Juan Martinez Rodriguez (32) as he was standing outside the residence. Martinez-Rodriquez refused to comply with the officers and instead, ran into the residence. Officers followed Martinez-Rodriguez into the residence and advised him that he was under arrest. The officers attempted to take Martinez-Rodriguez into custody but he allegedly refused to comply by actively resisting arrest. The officers deployed Tasers in an attempt to gain physical control of Martinez-Rodriguez and secure custody of him. Taser deployments were not successful. Martinez-Rodriguez continued to actively resist officers for an additional four (4) to five (5) minutes. Martinez-Rodriguez moved back outside the residence during his resistance. During the physical struggle to gain control, Martinez-Rodriguez tried to disarm officers of both their handguns and their Tasers. Additional officers were summoned to assist. Once other officers arrived, Martinez-Rodriguez was taken into custody. Martinez-Rodriguez was transported to an area hospital where he was medically cleared and subsequently booked into Benton County Jail for Felony DV Order Violation and Resisting Arrest.

While officers were attempting to gain compliance a large group of spectators and members of Martinez-Rodriguez's family gathered outside of the residence with some of them video recording the incident. Officers attempted to take custody of two cell phones as evidence of Martinez-Rodriguez resisting arrest. Several of Martinez-Rodriguez's family members worked together to keep officers from taking possession of one of the phone, up to and including smashing one of the phones. Officers were eventually able to take possession of one phone, which was entered into evidence pending application for a search warrant to collect any digital evidence of the assault on the officers. Those members of Martinez-Rodriguez's family who were identified as assisting him during this incident were issued criminal citations for Obstructing Law Enforcement Officers after the scene was secured. This incident will also be reviewed by the Benton County Prosecutor's Office for an additional charge of Destruction of Evidence.

During this incident, three Kennewick Police Officers received minor injuries and were transported to area hospitals for treatment. They were all later released and will spend some time recovering.

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