Updated at 11 a.m. May 2, 2013
Eight days after getting a press pass from San Diego police, freelance videographer J.C. Playford saw his media credential confiscated and revoked Tuesday after a standoff at the San Ysidro border crossing.
The Ramona journalist says he filed a formal complaint Wednesday against a San Diego police officer over what he calls an “assault and battery” incident on the pedestrian bridge.
Playford posted three YouTube videos Wednesday depicting his exchanges with authorities on and near the bridge, where he says he had stopped to film a K-9 drug search of a car passing into the United States.
“This is what a dictatorship looks like,” Playford says in one video during his time talking to police.
Asked by one official what he was doing on the bridge, Playford is heard saying: “I’m with the media here in San Diego, and this bridge is open to the public, so I’m allowed to stay here.”
Asked not to tape the official, Playford replied: “This is America. Have a nice day.”
Playford—whose First Amendment lawsuit against San Diego police, Sheriff’s Department and district attorney is pending in federal court—then recognized a San Diego Police Department contractor* as one who triggered a year ago.
“Oh, I know you,” Playford says in the video. “You’re the guy who attacked me the last time. You’re the guy who hit me.”
After the agent waves a cell phone near his face, Playford says: “Sir, don’t touch me again. I promise you will not like it [if you] touch me again.”
The contract emloyee—who Playford refers to as Shomate—is then seen walking away. In the interview with Patch, Playford said Shomate apparently wasn’t on duty, since he’s seen with a gym bag.
Another video shows a uniformed Homeland Security inspector leading Playford off the bridge, telling the freelancer: “There’s no loitering here on federal property.”
Playford responds: “You’re going to have to explain some things if you bother me and not [a young couple on the bridge], aren’t you? … Show me the sign that says I can’t be here.”
At the foot of the concrete overpass, a sign says loitering is forbidden.
“Hmm, who made this rule that says we can’t loiter?” Playford is heard saying.
The DHS inspector says: “You can read that, right?” also noting a fine-print posting of rules.
Then the inspector asks for Playford’s ID, and he eventually hands over his San Diego Police Department-issued media credential, which includes his portrait.
“What’s your date of birth, sir,” the inspector says in the video. Playford doesn’t respond. At least five times, Playford is asked for his date of birth—to no avail.
“Why don’t you call SDPD media relations,” Playford says in the 13-minute video. “I didn’t refuse [to give you my date of birth]. I asked you to call SDPD.”
Playford later says: “I’ve passed all their background security checks. That’s what [the credential] means.”
Playford said Lt. Kevin Mayer, public information officer for the SDPD, revoked Playford’s press credential later Tuesday night.
A response for comment was not immediately answered by Mayer.
The 49-year-old freelancer said Shomate shoved him in the face with his cell phone and later was detained by DHS for a time.
“They kept me circled,” Playford said, adding that he feared being “jumped” if he tried to leave.
Why didn’t he give his date of birth?
“I don’t have to,” he said. “I didn’t break any laws.”
*Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Shomate as a San Diego police officer.