When police pursued and shot a knife-wielding man in Times Square recently, a small army of civilians followed the action along Seventh Avenue and videotaped the event. Within moments, the shooting was posted on Facebook and YouTube. Police were also interested in the videos and asked to see the phones.
NYPD spokesman, Paul J. Browne said police analyzed two cellphone videos taken by civilians closest to the event. Neither captured the actual shooting, but they did have audio of the gunshots. Police may legally confiscate a cellphone with a court order, but don’t need one if the owner consents.
Consent is a tricky thing, said Larry Cunningham, a legal expert at St. John’s University. People may not know they have a choice and the police might encourage that perception.