The smartphone video of a police officer shooting Walter Scott in the back has demonstrated yet again that one way of holding law enforcement officers accountable for their actions is to film them. A new video filmed by a woman in her home across the street appears to show a U.S. marshal smashing the smartphone of a woman filming officers in her neighborhood, the Los Angeles Times reported. The U.S. marshal's office has said it's opening an investigation into the incident and confirmed that a marshal was involved
According to the Times, Beatriz Paez was filming a group of armed deputy marshals who were allegedly detaining a group of people near her house in the city of South Gate. It's not clear why the group was being detained. After she started filming, Paez told the Times, the officers started releasing the detainees. An investigation is now underway, according to a statement from the U.S. marshals' office.
The U.S. Marshals Service is aware of video footage of an incident that took place Sunday in Los Angeles County involving a Deputy U.S. Marshal. The agency is currently reviewing the incident.
Paez can be heard on the second video telling the officers she does not feel safe, and that she has a right to be there. Most of the officers seem to be ignoring her, but then one man, wearing a tactical vest and a gun, circles around the group and approaches her. While Paez protests, the officer takes the phone from her, smashes it on the ground and kicks it. The person recording the second video can be heard gasping.
Paez's attorney told the Times the phone is broken and not working, but that they plan to try to recover what she was able to record. South Gate police told CBS Los Angeles that their officers were not part of in the incident. It's not clear what the U.S. marshals were doing or why they were involved in this operation. The marshal involved, who is not identified, remains on the job, according to CBS Los Angeles.
It's also unknown who the person was who filmed the second video. If she had not had her smartphone out as well, there would be no way for Paez to verify her account, unless the video on her phone can be salvaged. Paez told the Times:
It’s our responsibility to take care of each other. It’s our constitutional right to film.