Pardalis & Nohavicka Criminal Law Update: Interfering with Police Activity is Obstruction of Justice
This week’s case brings us to Brooklyn, 10:15 p.m.:
An officer was issuing a summons to someone when Damien came over and said, "don't give them your name." Damien then stepped between that person and the officer, pulled out his phone and recorded the officer's face and shield. Then Damien slapped the officer's raised hand down and refused to produce identification when asked to do so. A large crowd gathered around the officer, and also caused the officer to become annoyed. Damien was charged and arrested for obstruction of justice, and a few other things. Damien’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss.
We know from past cases that a juvenile circling the block yelling out "cops, cops . . . watch out, Five-0, police are coming," where an undercover buy operation was operating, despite repeated warnings by the officers to stop, is an example of obstruction of justice. But what about Damien?
The Court noted that Damien's recording of the officer's shield and face was not "interference" because the act of bearing witness alone cannot be a crime. However, the Court ruled, the requisite intent to frustrate a police function could reasonably be inferred from Damien's bodily interference in the police activity, his direction not to provide the names, and his slapping of the officer's hand.
Damien goes to trial.
Here is the case: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2018/2018_28028.htm