An Alameda County Sheriff’s Office sergeant relied on social media rules in an attempt to keep a video of him taken by protesters outside an Oakland courthouse on YouTube and other media platforms social.
Instead, his actions made the video go viral, and now he’s found himself in hot water.
“Yeah, that’s really not pretty,” Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Ray Kelly said by phone on Friday, referring to video of a sergeant playing a Taylor Swift song as others recorded it.
YouTube and other social media platforms have copyright filters that can shut down videos or streams due to background music, which the MP was hoping would happen to his video.
Authorities citing the policy did not identify the sergeant, but video of the incident identifies him as the sergeant. David Shelby.
The Anti-Police Terror Project released a video of Tuesday’s interaction on Thursday. They did not immediately return the messages left by this news organization on Friday.
Swift has not commented on the situation on any of its social media platforms.
“It’s unacceptable,” Kelly said. “It will go to internal affairs. This is not a trend in our office. It is not something that we feel. … He has a lot of remorse. The backlash he received personally was extraordinary. I’ve seen agents go through this, when they become the target of social media. It’s not a fun place. He let the moment get the better of him.
The interaction came as protesters gathered to support Steven Taylor, a 33-year-old man killed by San Leandro police in April 2020, as he wielded a baseball bat at a Walmart.
Former San Leandro police officer Jason Fletcher will be on trial for manslaughter. Alameda County prosecutors indicted Fletcher, saying the officer did not attempt to defuse the confrontation before fatally shooting Taylor once in the chest after repeatedly using a Taser on him.
Fletcher’s preliminary hearing took place Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Tuesday, MPs called on Taylor supporters to remove their banners. A person there took a video on his cell phone posted to KTVU’s YouTube channel that shows James Burch, the director of APTP policy, and the sergeant discussing the matter. In the middle of the conversation, the sergeant pulls out his phone, starts playing Swift’s “Blank Space” and places the phone between the buttons of his shirt.
The video shows Burch asking the sergeant if he’s hosting a dance party, and another protester asks if he’s “trying to drown out the conversation?
“You can record anything you want,” replies the sergeant. “I just know it can’t be posted on YouTube.”
“Obviously in our world we have an oath to respect the First Amendment, not to trigger First Amendment censorship. And that’s what it is, ”Kelly said. “He is aware that he made a terrible mistake. We are human. He was trying to play a game with the activists, and it went wrong. I can tell you that too. It does not work. If you try to censor a video on YouTube or social media, it will only make it go viral.
Kelly said the internal affairs investigation would take weeks, stressing the sergeant was entitled to due process. Kelly said the sergeant did not violate any specific written policy to prevent social media uploads, but did not adhere to the agency’s code of conduct policy.
“Is this a dismissal type case? No it’s not, ”Kelly said. “Is this a rebuke or something administratively applied, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Sheriff Gregory Ahern has already contacted all sworn members of the department to view the video, according to Kelly.
“I really don’t think you’ll see this again,” Kelly said. “The person involved will never do it again. Hopefully that makes him a better officer. He owns it, and we own it.