Police officer testifies in
Tuesday, August 24th 1999, 12:00 am
News On 6
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A police officer testified Tuesday that he
was only following established procedures for investigating child
pornography complaints when he appeared at an Oklahoma City man's
home to seize a rented videotape of an Academy Award-winning movie.
Sgt. Britt High testified in a lawsuit in which Michael
Camfield, Oklahoma development director for the American Civil
Liberties Union, accuses High, Sgt. Se Kim and Lt. Matt French of
coercive behavior when they confiscated a copy of "The Tin Drum"
from him on June 25, 1997.
On Monday, Camfield testified that he was "emotionally
overwrought" by the incident.
"The last thing I wanted was to be arrested and taken to jail
on a charge of child pornography -- I think that would just be
devastating to me," said Camfield.
Copies of the movie were rounded up after an Oklahoma County
judge told police he believed the German-language film included
scenes of child pornography. The judge's oral ruling came after an
anti-pornography group found the movie on public library shelves
High testified that it was standard police procedure to obtain a
judge's oral ruling when investigating child pornography
complaints. He said he was not trying to intimidate anyone when the
officers went to collect the videos .
"We made it clear to people we weren't there to arrest them,"
High said. "We were just there to get the movie."
At one point Tuesday, High's defense attorney, Robert
Manchester, had the police officer change into the clothes he was
wearing when he appeared at Camfield's house -- a T-shirt, shorts
and sandals -- to demonstrate how unthreatening he appeared.
Camfield has testified that he believes his privacy was invaded.
He said he hasn't rented any videos since the tape was seized
because he does not feel secure.
Camfield had rented the video to check out the obscenity claims.
A federal judge later ruled that the movie was not child
Six federal jurors will resolve the seizure dispute, plus
alleged damages for a privacy law violation, in the civil trial.
Camfield is seeking monetary damages for the alleged seizure
violation but is leaving the amount up to jurors.
Oklahoma City officials have already conceded that the officers
violated the federal Video Privacy Protection Act by illegally
obtaining Camfield's rental information when they collected copies
of the film from video stores. But city officials maintain Camfield
was not harmed and that he is not due monetary damages.
The film, which won the Academy Award for best foreign film in
1979, centers around a boy who chooses to physically remain a child
and expresses frustration and anger by banging on his tin drum and
making a high-pitched scream.
A federal judge ruled the film was not pornographic.