"Totally coup, yo."

Murphy's Law

Jul

27

by

The true story of how I shot a cop and went to jail (and something about a dildo)

“They got me on some straight-up bullshit, son!” exclaimed the kid sitting next to me in the bullpen at the Erie County Holding Center. “What they get you on?”

“I shot a cop,” I growled, shooting him an icy stare. “And I’d do it again.”

“Son?!” His face froze in delighted dismay. “Real? That nigga dead?!”

“I really doubt it.”

“Jablaow!” he mimicked a gunshot, aiming his hand at the mucus-encrusted, blood-smeared brick wall. “What’d you use–a nine, forty-five…”

“A Sony Handycam,” I said with the unflinching nerve of a coldblooded videographer. “It’s the same kind James O’Keefe uses; he told me himself.”

“James who, nigga?” he balked. “Pfft! You on some fuckin’ camera shit, son?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I shot a video of a cop.”

“Pfft! That ain’t no law, son. Somebody need to tell them motherfuckers!” he hollered, slapping the cold, metal bench. “We all in here on some bullshit!”

***

Bunting swung by my place at about 2pm and we headed to the demonstration downtown. The New York Marriage Equality Act went into effect the previous evening, and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was protesting gay marriage throughout the state, for reasons of a religious and hate-filled nature. We wanted to cover the event properly, so we brought along a video camera, a couple bibles, and a massive latex dildo/microphone. The jiggly kind is best for serious journalism.

murphy-law

We circled the block a few times, parked and walked over to the growing crowd at Niagara Square. To our surprise (and because most had been bused in from out of state), the delusional NOM bigots totaled about 250. The righteous counter-protesters were only about a dozen strong. As press, we moved among both factions, asking questions.

“The bible says nothing about gay marriage,” I told a NOM supporter, “and marriage invariably results in less sex, so wouldn’t it stand to reason that, as a Christian, you should support gay marriage?” He was confused.

“Would it be fair to say that you’re doing The Lord’s work here today?” I pressed him. After much squirming, “Yes,” was his answer. I pointed to the bible, politely informed him that he shouldn’t be working on the Sabbath, and told him he was going to hell. It’s in the bible.

We also talked to this hayseed who subsists, ostensibly, on moneys derived from the Tooth Fairy. In a hill-folk whistle, he claimed to be “a low-level politician.” He had glossy, moonshine eyes. And dementia, possibly. “They took our rights!” he claimed. I didn’t bother to ask how.

“Your pants are clearly a poly-cotton blend,” I informed him. “You’re going to hell. It’s in the bible.”

The crowd started chanting, “Let the people vote!” Because social conservatives are not allowed to vote for governor or state legislature. Then they started singing. It was pretty gay. “How great is our God?” went the seemingly endless refrain. Not great enough to stop gay marriage which, for an omnipotent being, should have been pretty easy. One would imagine.

“This here’s a chocolate protest,” I heard one woman say to another. Indeed, most of the NOM supporters were black and, apparently, incapable of detecting the historic irony in their prejudice.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” I beckoned one lady. “Are you menstruating?”

“Well, this is what this is all about,” she inexplicably answered.

I was like, “Whaaaa?”

“He’s trying to say you’re unclean,” her husband chimed in.

“It’s in the bible,” I said. “You’re going to hell.”

She then claimed that the New Testament was her guiding principle. I quickly shot back that in Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus said he didn’t come to change the law. Bunting had made a note of this in anticipation of her predictable nonsense. He spends his spare time studying apologetics. I prefer to stab at my eyes with needles. But to each his own–unless it impinges on the rights of others.

We lingered on the outskirts of the protest. Bunting taped while I interviewed. I snagged a beardy bible-humper, but the noise of the rally was ruining our audio, so I broke out the dildophone. “How do you define marriage?” I asked him, waving the wobbly latex member near his face.

“I hope someone does this to your child,” he said, slowly slinking away.

“I’m sorry,” I said, trailing him. “Could you speak into the mic?” He walked backwards while craning his neck toward the dildophone to chastise us on the record. “You’re going to have to speak into the mic, sir,” I said, wiggling it near his face. He then fled.

About five or six pro-gay marriage counter-protesters were standing on the steps of City Hall, right in the middle of the NOM people, holding up humorously scathing signs. The noble police force on hand sprung into action and banished them across Delaware Ave to Niagara Square, which is where the rest of the counter-demonstrators stood. One woman had to be forcibly removed by a large, bald copper–the brave lad. I grabbed the camera from Bunting and tried to get some footage of the action, but the crowd was too thick, and I ended up just trailing them across the street to interview the woman.

She told us about a few indignities she and her children had suffered at the hands of Christ’s flock over the years, and we agreed that most homophobes are really just secret, self-loathing queers. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb.

As is their constitutional right to peacefully assemble, the counter-demonstrators offered appropriate counter-chants to the NOM nonsense. “Let us vote!” they chanted. “58% support gay marriage!” the counter-demonstrators replied. The cops were determined to silence the counter-demonstrators. Bunting filmed an exchange between officer Donna Donovan, who was presumably conceived to the tune of “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and a couple of the human-rights advocates on scene. She flipped out and said, “I don’t want my picture taken. I don’t want my picture taken!” She then charged at Bunting, stomped on his foot and slapped the camera down from his face. She threatened to arrest him. Myself and a few others informed her that it’s not illegal to videotape her in public.

A few minutes later, Donovan was lecturing some counter-demonstrators about how “disrespectful” they were being and that they needed to shut up. “Being disrespectful isn’t illegal,” I told her and grabbed the camera from Bunting. The lecture continued, so I trained the camera on the exchange. “I told you that I don’t want my picture taken!” Donovan shouted, charging at me. She slapped at the camera and broke out her handcuffs. I held out my right hand, thinking she was full of shit. She clapped the cuff down on my wrist with the intensity of a woman bent on causing physical pain (my wrists are still slightly bruised and scratched). I held the camera out with my left hand to pass it to Bunting. I was being unlawfully arrested and I knew they’d erase the exonerating footage. “Josh!” I yelled. “Josh!” He turned around to grab the camera, as Donovan pulled my right hand behind my back and tried to violently slap the camera to the ground. Bunting took the camera, she finished cuffing me, the cops confiscated the camera from Bunting and then they took me on a perp walk.

Once in the squad car, cuffs cutting into my wrists, I tried to ask her why I was being arrested. I said, “I don’t understand–”

“No!” she screamed. “You don’t understand what we go through! You don’t know me! I don’t care what you people do in bed!” She went off in that manner, for a solid two minutes, and I told her she needed anger management. And, absolutely, she does need to work on her people skills. It was immediately apparent that she has a diminutive woman cop Napoleon complex, and she overcompensates by being an unreasonable bully.

***

When they bring you into the holding center, cuffed behind your back, they ask you to stand next to a white brick wall and stare at a red X made of electrical tape. Apparently, 8 inches is too far away from the wall, so Donovan told me to get closer and pushed me up against it. Her coworker cop dude then said, “See, I would have introduced him to the X and not been so nice about it.” So she says to me, “You hear that?” in this smart-ass tone.

I said, “Yeah, I heard that. He intimated that he was going to bash my head against a brick wall because he’s a fucking asshole.”

He replied, “I didn’t say I was going to bash your head against the wall.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “and you don’t know the meaning of the word ‘intimate’ either.”

Donovan then said, “He just thinks he’s always getting bashed because he’s gay.” I told her I wasn’t, but it didn’t matter either way. She then said I was in denial. Her asshole partner then said, apropos of nothing, “He’s an atheist.” They both chuckled derisively, for some fucking reason.

Again, I asked why I was being arrested. Donovan said that I was “behind her shouting things,” and explained to the other cop that I was a counter-demonstrator. I informed her that, no, I was in the press, reporting on the event. I informed her that yelling is not illegal, that I was not chanting, and I inquired how she knew I was yelling if I was behind her. “My kids say I have eyes behind my back,” she said, smugly.

The cops moved me into a smaller processing room, removed the handcuffs, put me up against a wall and had me take off my pants. One cop made a show of loudly snapping on some latex gloves. My asshole did not want. But all he did was shake out my pants, searching for contraband. Another cop went through the camera bag.

“You got any weed in here?” the one cop asked. “The bag smells like weed.” They were getting excited by the prospect of having something to legitimately charge me with.

“You don’t know what weed smells like then,” I told him. No weed. Idiot.

“Whoa!” he yelped upon discovering the dildophone. I explained what it was for, but they said they didn’t believe me, and tried to embarrass me about it. I ran for the disgusting office of Congress; I am beyond embarrassment.

The pig asked rhetorically of the clean dildophone, “What’s this brown stuff on it?” They all laughed.

“Probably bodily fluids,” I said. “I bought it from a hobo who pulled it out of his ass.”

Donovan learned that I was with The BEAST, and that I’d be writing about the incident, so she said that she’d be sure to get news out about the dildo before I got released. And then a cop I couldn’t see behind the desk asked, “Is he a fucking faggot or something?” And they all laughed.

They moved me down the line for more questioning. “Religion?” the one pig asked. This is done for special meal requirements, etc., but having just been mocked for my atheism, I was a bit touchy.

“Why the fuck does that matter?” I asked.

“It’s a fucking question on the form is why it fucking matters!” he yelled. “Get the fuck in there!” There was the mucus and blood stained bullpen. Later he’d call me out for my mugshot, which I couldn’t help but smirk about. “Yeah, go ahead and smile, asshole,” he said. “You’re being arrested, moron. Real fucking funny.” I don’t know what they expect; the sign on the wall to the right included a photocopied image of a shirtless Patrick Swayze which read, “Road House”. This is apparently the totally unfunny place you’re supposed to look when they snap your profile picture.

"Road House?"

“Road House?”

I waited in the frigid bullpen with a half a dozen detainees for a few hours, being called out periodically to answer questions about my mental health and get my fingerprints scanned. The cop who took my prints was actually a really nice guy, who could teach Donovan a thing or two about dealing with people. Eventually, they gave me my free phone call and took me upstairs to a private 8 x 6 cell. I’ve stayed in seedier hotels but, in contrast to the bullpen, there didn’t seem to be any air conditioning at all. I sleeplessly sweated through the night, as they never turn off the lights.

[Note that I did not omit the part about being read my Miranda rights; they were never read to me]

***

Wake-up call at 5 am, shitty breakfast, and the confounding movement from one locked room to another, each smaller than the next, until many of the 18 detainees were forced to sit on the filthy floor. Arraignment hearing at 9:30. Fallon, BEAST publisher & lawyer, was there waiting with the arrest report and I got my first look at the bullshit charges against me:

Murphy-report-2

What tripe! Let me address these charges one by one:

Disorderly conduct:
I wasn’t yelling anything. Although my sympathies clearly lie with the counter-demonstrators, I was there acting as press–weird press, but press nonetheless. I didn’t call the cop an “asshole” until after my unlawful arrest when one of them implied he was going to crack my head against a brick wall. Regardless, calling a cop an asshole is perfectly legal.

Disruption or disturbance of a religious service, funeral, buriel [sic] or memorial service:
I wasn’t aware a group could conduct a religious service on the steps of a government building. What is this fucking Texas?! Anyway, I interrupted nothing. And don’t those Westboro Baptist idiots do this all the time?

Harassment in the second degree:
Really? I “did strike, shove, kick…” someone? Who? One of the NOM supporters? I was on the other side of the street! Find me one person who can corroborate this line of bullshit and I’ll show you a filthy liar. And, again, it’s not illegal to videotape an officer, whether the diminutive fascist can handle it or not.

***

List of confiscated property:
Wallet
Watch
Digital voice recorder
Bible
Dildo
Cell phone

Aside from being likely the funniest list of confiscated property in the history of Erie County, there was one very big omission: my video camera. Fallon and I were told that the camera was “too big” to be held at the Holding Center, which is complete bullshit, and that it was taken to a precinct downtown. This was obvious done so that Donovan could erase the footage of the unlawful arrest–or to disappear the camera entirely.

After getting the runaround, we eventually did get the camera back and, yes, all the footage from the rally was gone. Fortunately, they failed to completely wipe the hard drive, so we may be able to recover the data. The BEAST legal team is still working on getting the right program and making sure we don’t fuck it up. Data recovery is something of a one-shot deal and, if you do it wrong, you can lose it all permanently. Stay tuned for that and more commentary about the belligerent camera-averse Buffalo Police Department (there’s been a couple very similar incidents lately in the area).

At the risk of being too long-winded here, I’d like to address one more thing at this time: The Buffalo News. Here’s their description of my unlawful arrest:

Buffalo police made one arrest, charging Ian Murphy, the Green Party candidate for the Congressional seat that Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul won in a special election in May, with disorderly conduct. Police said in a report that Murphy, 35, of Amherst, was using abusive, obscene language and shoved a person in the crowd.

Officers asked Murphy several times to stop, according to the report. Instead, Murphy directed a sex toy toward officers and told them that it was a microphone, the report said.

Murphy also was charged with harassment and disruption of a religious service.

Murphy, editor in chief of the Buffalo Beast, a satirical website, made national news in February when he pretended to be conservative billionaire David H. Koch in a prank phone call with Wisconsin Gov. Scott K. Walker and then posted a recording of the conversation online.

OK. I’m actually 32. The arrest report says nothing about the sex toy, and that definitely didn’t happen, so I asked them about it. I heard back from Deputy Managing Editor Stan Evans by email. He told me that “[t]here is a second summary report at police headquarters about the arrest and incident.” Fair enough, I guess. He also told me that they emailed me on Sunday night. I was in jail! The only reason I’m bothered by their shoddy reporting is because it nearly equals the amount of coverage they granted me during my entire run for Congress. Lesson: next time I run for Congress I’ll do it with a dildo.

Video should be coming shortly…

[UPDATE]

The following is Bunting’s description of events after my arrest:

After the police took the camera, I walked away from the crowd towards the middle of Niagara Square to break the bad news to our attorney and publisher Paul Fallon. He wanted to know if these were city cops or metro cops. I wasn’t sure. Police all look alike to me. Yeah, I said it.

After that I rounded up some witnesses who said they were willing to testify to what had happened. After collecting their contact information, I called Fallon back to see what our next move would be. He told me to try to get a hold of a lieutenant. This was someone called B Lark, and she had some staring at people to do and didn’t have time to talk to us.

By the time I got back home, I’d missed a few calls from Fallon. He said something about how he was blindsided by how Ian had a dildo. This was the first time I’d heard that the police planned on making up phony charges to justify the arrest. We’d had the dildo out earlier, but the police didn’t mind. The only thing they told us to do was to stop recording them. I apologized for not telling him about that, but in the back of my mind all I could think was: Of course we had a dildo. We were covering a NOM rally. What were we supposed to do – cover it without a dildo? Madness.

[READ MURPHY'S LAW II & MURPHY"S LAW 2.5]

  • http://www.skepchick.org Rebecca Watson

    Go Ian! Really hope the video is recovered.

  • http://wnymedia.net/ccharvella Chris Charvella

    Fuck them. You’d think asshole cops from one City in WNY would have learned a bit from the asshole cops in another.

    It was a paltry three weeks ago when the Rochester PD learned the hard way about legal it is to film them in public.

    I have recent experience in how the criminal justice system likes to apply harrassment charges when they know nothing else is going to work.

    Recover the footage, fight them, then sue them. Make them famous.

  • Spudman101

    I’m not sure the advertising on this page fully matches the mood of the article >> http://twitpic.com/5wub3r

  • Brendan Fitzgerald

    This is why I am extremely excited to do criminal law, So I can actually stand up for people like you and hold people on power trips to account.

    Hope all goes well Ian !

  • admin

    Thanks, Watson! I hope so too.

  • omniomi

    Submitted to Fark… hopefully they’ll pick it up – this needs some good old fashioned viral exposure.

  • Legend

    Bookmarking this, please keep us updated about the recording and events!

  • Steve

    Even if I say some unkind things here, I want to be clear that I find the work you do important.

    Two things:

    1) Waggling a dildo (or most objects for that matter) right in someone’s face is probably a violation of some law or another. If one of the dumbshits you’re interviewing screams ‘That dildo’s got HomoAids on it, run!’, stampedes into someone else and anybody gets hurt, it’s going to be your ass. Even without legal consequences, it’s still assholish.

    2) I have the world’s best invention to sell you. It’s called a smartphone with a data plan. With this magical device, you can broadcast live video from your phone, to the interwebs where it will happily sit, safe and secure from donut-stained hands until it comes time for you to present it at evidence in your trial. The actual software you use to accomplish this feat is up to you; you have several software packages to choose from (and I’d be honestly surprised if there isn’t one that specifically markets itself towards journalists and protesters.)

    [Sidebar: if anyone is thinking of developing this software, a terribly scrupulous developer could present the software in such a way as to appear to allow the cops to delete the video from the device while actually recording and rebroadcasting their attempt to destroy evidence--front-facing cameras are fun that way].

  • http://www.pacificskeptics.org James

    By default I respect the police, but if even half of what you write is accurate, that lady should not be an officer. Evidence tampering is a serious crime. I hope you are doing the data recovery under the advice of an attorney so that you can later introduce the evidence of the erasure into court. At the very least, anyone involved with the destruction of evidence should never work as an officer again.

  • Mr. F.N. Magoo

    Somewhere in the main post, there should be some sort of note that the fuckwits at Facebook won’t allow links to Buffalo Beast. That’s a lot of ‘viral’ out of the picture so lets all get on it and file reports with Facebook to let them know that THEY’VE BEEN FUCKIN’ HAD by some assholes who filed bullshit reports to get The Beast banned.

    Unless you did something for real, then never mind. Move along, citizens. No dildos to see here.

    ‘dildos’ is in spell check.

  • http://www.centerforinquiry.net/oncampus Dren

    You can get around the bullshit that Facebook does. I posted the link on Reddit so it can be shared. http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/j1r3d/atheist_reporter_gets_arrested_for_covering_a/

  • http://www.centerforinquiry.net/oncampus Dren

    Also, since you are probably like me and don’t have anything better to do, you can consider writing to our Buffalo city council. Other people suggested it and think it should be brought up at the next meeting, so we’ll see: http://www.ci.buffalo.ny.us/Home/Leadership/CommonCouncil

  • admin

    Dren,
    Well played.

  • http://chrisolin.com Chris Olin

    I’m over in Rochester and came across this article via Twitter. I have some experience in data recovery and if the officer simply deleted the video, as long as nothing else is written to the storage medium, I can more than likely bring it back.

    I’d need a heads up and you’d have to make a road trip to Rochester, but I’d gladly pull this back for free as long as Rochester Indymedia could run an article on this too using some of the recovered footage.

  • Anthony

    This is a sad and none too surprising travesty. Sorry you had to spend a night in the hole Mr. Murphy. I’ll be eagerly looking forward to watching any recovered footage. Namaste.

  • Ostler

    Bloody hell – nightmarish. Good luck getting the video back.

    Can’t say I’m exactly endeared to the coppers right now here in Britain either – there’s been rather a lot of protesting over here in the last year or more. People – thanks to the crappy, power-mad law enforcement in this country – are actually scared to protest. Sad to see the police aren’t much better across the pond.

    I know some guys in the police who are decent blokes, but on a whole my few dealings with them have been unpleasant.

  • http://www.elidupree.com/ Eli Dupree

    You can also circumvent Facebook’s block by writing “www.buffalobeast.com” instead of “http://www.buffalobeast.com”. It’ll still show up as a link in your post, but it won’t count as a Link that gets censored, for whatever reason.

  • levering

    Good luck!! It is sad that cops never arrest those WBC jerks for that crap and they charge you for it…Says a lot about this country.

  • http://Facebook Kyle Mayoh

    That’s some fucked up shit right there. I hope that cop that arrested you loses her job. If i were you I’d sue her. FUCK THE POLICE!! For just this reason. Fucking pigs.

  • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

    Oh, you guys, you can use the arresting officer’s name in the Batman theme song.

    Donna Donna Donna Donna Donna Donna Donna Donna DONOVAN!

  • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

    And what’s a “buriel?” Fucking illiterates.

  • http://youtu.be/xQMwjmwQb28 Joe Dixon

    I got nothing to add and no $ to give so I posted that Reddit link in FB groups I thought might be interested.

  • http://youtu.be/xQMwjmwQb28 Joe Dixon

    By the way, I take back the Fatty Arbuckle crack I’d made in another context about Murphy. In that mug shot Ian looks closer to John Belushi.

  • admin

    At least you didn’t say Jim Belushi.

  • Anthony

    Ostler: The United States (and Canada for that matter) are essentially corporate states where pretty much anyone can get arrested for pretty much anything (or nothing) these days. The letter of the law has been replaced by misplaced ideology and general unreason. It’s seriously a mad house over here.

  • robert van bakel

    It’s reassuring to know that the most fundamental part of the legal process, PC Plod, on the beat has such a sure grasp of ‘fundamental rights’. She should apply for a job in Beijing, they operate along similar lines.

  • Pingback: Thoughts For Friday, July 29th, 2011 « WNYMedia.net

  • outercow

    I’ve been trying to post this story to FB but FB won’t let me, keeps saying “This message contains blocked content that has previously been flagged as abusive or spammy. Let us know if you think this is an error.”

    I’ve let them know about 10 times now, but still no one’s responded to my request. At least I can post the tiny url, but still, lame.

    [Odd. We can't post tiny url! It's a damn shame. See here. - Murphy]

  • Joe

    I’m a cop and I am about to go ape shit about this horseshit. We live in America, goddamned it, and these laws are taking people’s freedoms away for doing something they should never fear doing.. recording a public servant.

    I know there are lots of laws that don’t deserve imprisonment (marijuana, for example) but this one gets me fucking furious more than any of them.

    I recorded a video to go out far and wide to those cops making arrests for this bullshit, but chickened out at the last moment (because I got real pissed in it and pretty much told officers if they arrest people on this charge, they are pieces of shit). But I swear to whatever god you want me to, each time I see one of these stories about someone getting IMPRISONED for recording a cop, I about to go through the roof and am that much closer to uploading that video after all.

    I hope someone comes up to me with a video camera one day while in uniform and asks me what I think about these laws. In my state, it’s not illegal to record us, nor should it be.

  • Joe

    DarthFurious: I hear you man, but I’m legit. I get this all the time so I don’t get upset about it. I’ve been a cop for 11 years. And I am seriously pissed about this law. Email me @ darthfurious2joe@gmail.com.

  • me

    Donovan family as in part of the South Buffalo illumanati.. Many are sheriffs and buffalo police. Prepared to be fucked with for a while by the cops. Sucks to be you, no offense. The family is also catholic, so I am not surprised by the reaction to the counter protest. They are also very politically connected. It’s weird there are marriages in south Buffalo that align families and everything.

    I’ve said too much.. I will probably be murdered by midnight!

  • me

    And I have to say not all cops in Buffalo and Erie county are assholes. There are some that are good people and not homophobic.

  • me

    Ok I am exagerating about the marriages, but they are all cops in that family.

  • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

    If Joe the cop’s going to go ape shit over the horseshit, maybe I should go horseshit over the ape shit, just to even things out.

  • MARK

    use Pandora Recovery to get the footage the cops erased off of your hard drive. It recovers everything unless the drive has been reformatted. Then use their(cops) dumb-ass actions against them.

  • Dan McKowan

    I’m the guy you were filming arguing with Donovan. Bunting has my number, I’ll be there to testify.

  • admin

    Thanks, Dan! We’ll be in touch.

  • Timothy

    This is. Absolutely. Hilarious

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