Video of Mission Beach Cigarette Citation Goes Viral and Lights Up National Debate Over Cellphone Videos

by on April 30, 2013 · 15 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Ocean Beach

Mission Beach cig video

Screen capture from Pringle’s video.

See Video Below

A video by a guy on the Mission Beach boardwalk who was being given a citation for smoking a cigarette has gone viral.  The incident involved Adam Pringle who refused to shut off his cellphone while videoing the San Diego police officer – and now Pringle’s video of part of the incident has sparked a conversation that has gone national over the rights of people using the video on their cellphone (or other cameras).

Pringle – from Escondido – was smoking a cig on the boardwalk at Mission when he was approached by San Diego Police on bicycles. As the officer began writing up a citation, an infraction, Adam Pringle began using his cell phone to video the officer.

The officer then asks Pringle to shut off his cellphone.  Pringle refuses – saying it was his right.  The officer asks him at least one more time – and Pringle continues to video the officer.

Pringle then told the press that his cellphone was then slapped out of his hand and then tackled to the ground by the same officer who was writing the ticket.  He was then arrested for disorderly conduct.

This was three weeks ago.  Since then the video has gone viral, the debate has been reignited, Pringle got his confiscated cellphone back – and his lawyer has filed a claim against the City of San Diego for a violation of first amendment rights.

The basis for Pringle’s claims that his first amendment rights were violated is being supported by the National Press Photographers Association – who has also filed a complaint against the SDPD.  The photogs’ group has a  public position that sees when police confiscate cellphones because they’re seen as a weapon is a unconstitutional effort that violates the First Amendment.

Pringle has yet to be charged with anything by the City Attorney’s Office as they apparently haven’t decided exactly what happened.  The police say they are conducting an internal investigation into Pringle’s complaint.  A complaint like this is usually a formal part of the procedure prior to filing an actual lawsuit.

Pringle’s lawyer, Dan Gilleon told 10News:

“It’s a ticketing scenario and he had every right in the world to be videotaping this. It’s actually an important thing for society that this filming happens. It allows public debate.”

Another case from Florida that has also been in the debate had the police deleting images from a confiscated cellphone before returning it.  [News source: 10News ]

Here’s Pringle’s video:


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

obracer April 30, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Uh…. , did this idiot think he was at a fucking show at Sea World ?
Whats the video tape for ? so he can show his friends he’s too stupid to know the law ?
This cop had every right tell this guy to put away his cell phone. He is not taking video of someone else being cited, HE is being detained and cited, this cop could have told this guy to sit on the ground ,cross his legs and turn around, but he was trying to be nice while DOING HIS JOB !
It is very easy to tape a razor blade or knife to a cell phone, instant weapon.
Cops let people of with warnings all the time, if your not an asshole ! Listen to this guy he’s an asshole !


John May 1, 2013 at 1:38 am

“It is very easy to tape a razor blade or knife to a cell phone, instant weapon.”

Oh please, did you read how silly that was before you hit the “submit” button? What kind of imbecile would use a razor blade as a weapon by taping it to his cell phone? One who was about to get his ass handed to him in a fight, I’d say.
I have mixed feelings on this one. The kid DOES sound like a punk and if you’ve already broken the law and are getting a cite there’s no reason to start filming the citing officer except to provoke an incident.
Considering at the time he’s being cited I belief this subject is considered to be “detained” there may be issues of obstruction or interfering with a peace officer.
However we are also venturing into no man’s land if we have police who are afraid of their activities being filmed. The cop should have blown off the whole thing and said “here’s your citation, I hope you put this video of me doing my job just fine on YouTube and whine about it so you look like a fool”.

But then we wouldn’t have a story then would we…..


obracer May 1, 2013 at 5:02 pm

” What kind of embecile” ? The kind that would slice your throat before you blinked, you obviously have no training in self defense.
Expect the unexpected, a pro or ex con will attack fast, by surprise & use extreme violence. Be aware, stay alert and anticipate, It PREVENTS getting your ass handed to you, once your neck is sliced there is no need for a fight, your done, and all you saw was a cell phone.
I did see it as obstruction , perhaps that’s why our opinions vary, but on the other hand I do get your point about the cop taking the higher road.


andy May 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm

No it’s “Imbecile”. You are throwing your rights away thinking or allowing police to not be filmed. Someone has to police the police. They break laws too. I’ve seen it many times. Many aren’t rocket scientists, and many don’t know the laws themselves. You have to watch them, they constantly abuse their power especially in S.D.


John May 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I’m with you on that but remember the subject in this case was being detained. He wasn’t a bystander. IMO there’s a grey area here when YOU are already the focus of the police activity for you to have the “right” to whip out a camera and film them.
There was no reason in this case for this guy to film them at all. They were doing their job. Seems to be a provocative thing.
Yes you would clearly have the right and reason to film them if they were about to kick your ass or were doing so.
In the end in this case my position is the guy was a smart ass for doing what he did and the cop’s actions were wrong. One thing led to the other.


John May 1, 2013 at 5:50 pm

“you obviously have no training in self defense.”

Oh I wouldn’t say that. I had enough in my 20’s when I could bench press 300 and kick the top jamb of any doorway that when it came time to use these skills and everything worked just as I had trained it would, it did. In three motions and less than that many seconds I had a man’s bloody head in a lock while he was choking on his blood, luckily the palm to larynx thrust had glanced and I hadn’t crushed it yet. I checked myself before I continued with any of the three options I could have ended his life- and effectively my own with.
That was two and a half decades ago, for many years that day haunted my every waking hour with a mixture of remorse and thanks as I considered if it had gone just a little different. I never wanted to get in a fight again or carry a gun- in fact I laugh at gun proponents’ ignorance as they brag how they’ll put a bullet in someone for stealing a $50 stereo out of their pickup in their driveway. If they believe in God, will they explain to St. Peter that a Sparkomatic 8 track was worth taking a life for?
I don’t say this for internet tough guy talk but to remind anyone that the real problem with self defense and martial arts is that you might find one day you really were all that and it all goes down one two three bam. Too bad that training didn’t include opening up that windpipe you crushed or removing the bone fragments of his face from his brain you drove in with your knee as his life was draining out before you and the sirens wail grew nearer. A decade or more in the pen is lots of time to train on self defense and they’ll need it.

I’m not worried about ANYone slicing me up, ex-con or not.
The only reason they would feel the need to do that is if I was a threat to them.
Nope take what you came for and be on your way, or just be on your way if that was your goal. “Stuff” is rarely a good reason to kill people over anyway. I walk the streets at night, any street in this town at least, with only my mouth and mind to protect myself- or threaten anyone else with.

So if that “SHTF” thing ever happens, I alone emerge from the valley of the shadow of death, because death didn’t even have me on their radar. That’s security and protection in my book.

On topic a weapons pro will I believe have that razor securely in hand for covert deployment and never attempt a goofy stunt like taping it to a phone. If that’s where it was stored it’s in his hand to use by now. Just my opinion and thank goodness I’m rusty on these things.


aligatorhardt May 1, 2013 at 7:57 am

If we are to react on imagination instead of fact, then we might assume the officer is actually a criminal in disguise and shoot first. It is unreasonable to consider a cell phone a deadly weapon. An officer has no right to assault citizens unless he is under attack.


I.b.long April 30, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Lets take the weapon argument a bit further: suppose the smoker holds a stuffed Shamu in the officer’s face while being cited. Or a banana. Could those things be construed as weapons? Probably, depending on the desire to do so. But really, no, they’re not weapons. The question is the offender’s “etiquette” during the citation process. Is recording a police action reasonable and legal? Could it even be considered imperative to do so if that police action involves you?


John May 1, 2013 at 2:02 am

“Could it even be considered imperative to do so if that police action involves you?”

I guess you could say that if you were going to be the subject of police brutality… however what initiates the police brutality seems to be the filming itself so…

This does seem to be the obvious dilemma behind today’s proliferation of personal recording devices, several glaring examples include bicycle safety advocates in the U.K. (especially London) and open carry weapons advocates in the U.S..
Both groups seem to go out of their way while wearing cameras to “find” themselves in trouble so they can post the results on YouTube the next day.
If they survive that is.
Some of the bicyclists have hundreds of videos showing them getting into close calls and even going down in situations the most inept rider could easily have avoided. It’s obvious that was far from their intent.
The open carry guys are funny, there’s one near Reno who also has a problem with DUI checkpoints, it’s pretty funny to see the result of combining the two.
Yep, you guessed it, he thought it would be a good idea to purposely drive through a checkpoint, and refuse to co-operate with the peace officers manning it… while carrying a loaded handgun.
Face, meet pavement.
He hired himself as counsel to face the obstruction charges he eventually got, and unsuccessfully appealed the verdict. Not the brightest bulb in the box.


aligatorhardt May 1, 2013 at 7:41 am

When the officer slaps the phone out of the citizen’s hand, the officer has committed assault and destruction of private property. There is no reason for a citizen to be compelled to respect an illegal command from an officer. There is no reason to accept assault as a legitimate reaction to officer frustration.


JEC May 1, 2013 at 9:54 am

Infractions need not always involve face to face contact – i.e. red light cameras. The officer already blew his case on video but indicating he knew the guy was making a cellphone video and he didn’t like to be on camera. All police cars now have dashboard cameras and since the Rodney King days it’s been established that filming public employees on the job was perfectly legal as long as it didn’t get in the way. A bit more provocative – the guy was walking – he is required to identify himself but we still have no law that requires us to carry id at all times. The officer had his license, so it seems, so he cooperated to that point. But he didn’t have to provide a driver’s license if he wasn’t driving. Or he might have refused to sign the citation, the promise to appear. You can decline to sign. Seems the videoing became an issue when the officer was about to hand him the citation for signature. If he refuse to sign then officers (two in this case) would be forced to decide to issue the citation without signature or arrest and book the guy which would have required this police to call in transportation. But then the officer never got that far. In the end they made an “attitudinal” arrest – they didn’t like his attitude. At one time such arrests were common with the SDPD. Arrest, throw ’em in jail for 48 hours then release under State Penal Code 849B, essentially unarresting the individual. At one time over 20% of all FELONY bookings were 849B releases. The County formally complained and eventually the State established jail booking fees to discourage the practice – the County charged the city for booking that person somewhere around $200. The guy might be a jerk – but in this City there must be a right to be a jerk because we have so many – on both sides of the badge.


LM May 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Off this topic but involving the OB police, anyone know why there were two cop cars at the end of Del Mar Ave last night on the cliffs? I was walking my dog and didn’t want to get to close, lest I become the target of the officers.


Ob Daog Walker Too May 14, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Word is they were clearing out the homeless encampment in the bushes just over the cliffs edge and found syringes, meth, etc.


rick chalmers May 3, 2013 at 8:13 am

My opinion is that ANY challenge to the police state we have encouraged and created is a good thing. Our current reality is TSA, surveillance drones, citywide lock downs and other means of monitoring private interactions.

I appreciate John’s views because he clearly is cognizant of his fears and has formulated mind and body training to enable a walk on the streets at night.

If more people prepared and educated themselves in this manner, then the fear mongering of government through the press would have less grip on the people.

In sum, I believe we are unprepared for what we have created.



John May 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

You bring up an important point regarding challenging the police state. This is vital and what you describe is true as far as the post 9/11 tentacles of big brother trying to “keep us safe” from elusive but overblown threats. However it should be done with decorum and and awareness that merely challenging the authority of individual officers in the course of discharging their duties because you can, will lead to predictably unfortunate results and have little effect on societal restrictions upon our freedoms.
(For some reason this video with Chris Rock “how not to get your ass kicked by the police” always seems relevant: )


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