New video shows a woman arguing with federal agents moments before her cellphone was smashed during a biker gang bust in Southern California.
The footage salvaged from the phone of Beatriz Paez shows her refusing demands from the lawmen to move back as she records law enforcement activity during Sunday's raid in South Gate, which targeted the notorious Mongols group.
"This is unsafe right now, you're right in the line of the fire," an officer tells her. "Go across the street and film all you want."
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
"This is unsafe right now, you're right in the line of the fire," an officer later tells her. "Go across the street and film all you want."
She repeatedly tells them she has a right to record the operation and that she is in a safe spot, then protests that two agents are standing too close to her. Just moments later, in a confrontation captured by another bystander, a U.S. Marshal grabbed the device from her hands and smashes it.
"I'm not in the way, I'm in a safe spot. I need to film and I have a right to film. I'm watching. Please don't block my view," Paez says after an agent told her she is getting in the way of their investigation.
This initial confrontation comes six minutes into her recording, which Paez allowed NBC4 to retrieve from the device.
She refuses, and instead demands to know what the officers are doing, pointing out there are men standing on every street corner. She also repeatedly challenges two officers standing nearby.
"I have the right to be here, you need to stay away from me. I do not feel safe with you close to me," Paez says. "You need to start moving away from me. You need to be at least a couple of feet away from me. I have a right as a citizen to feel safe."
The video ends there, however video taken by a neighbor and posted to YouTube shows the two officers backing off before another walks over, grabs her phone, smashes it then kicks it away.
NBC4 has chosen to blur the officers' faces in its broadcast reports because the officers may have been undercover. The video was recorded as six arrests were being made. At least one confrontation took place between an officer and an alleged member of the gang.
Paez, who has been recording police activity in South Gate for five months, said she did not instigate the forceful reaction.
"I've watched things happen a lot and I have close friends with families of people who have died at the hands of police," Paez, who plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against the officers and the city, said.
The U.S. Marshals Service is conducting an internal investigation into the confrontation. U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn has called for a seperate Department of Justice investigation to be carried out.