Deputy confiscates woman’s cell phone. He feared it had been modified into a gun
BY RANDY LUDLOW
The Columbus Dispatch
Melissa Greenfield was videotaping the deputy.
When a deputy sheriff began questioning Melissa Greenfield’s boyfriend at a Delaware County truck stop, she began recording video with her cell phone.
She never thought that she, or her phone, could be viewed as a danger as she documented the activities of public employees in a public place.
“I’m a 115-pound, 20-year-old girl wearing a cervical collar with nothing but a cell phone. I was not going to harm any officer,” Greenfield said yesterday.
However, a sheriff’s sergeant saw the situation differently after Greenfield announced that she was recording video “for legal purposes and our own safety.”
Sgt. Jonathan Burke wrote that he repeatedly ordered Greenfield to place the “unknown” object in her pocket and keep her hands free. When Greenfield refused, she was arrested and charged with obstructing official business and resisting arrest.
Burke wrote in his report that he feared that Greenfield could have been holding a dangerous object such as a “cell-phone gun.”
However, neither the sheriff’s office nor the Columbus office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has ever come across one of the black-market devices that apparently are made in Eastern Europe.
Burke ultimately determined that Greenfield’s cell phone was not the exotic stuff of James Bond but a simple T-Mobile device.
In a statement, Delaware County Sheriff Walter L. Davis III said that cell-phone guns are an example of everyday items that have been altered into deceptive weapons that endanger the safety of officers and the public.
“When a sheriff’s deputy encounters an individual holding something in his or her hand, the deputy will take action to identify the item. This is done for the safety of the deputy, the involved parties and the public,” Davis wrote.
After Greenfield got her phone back, she said, the video she took of the deputies at the Flying J truck stop at I-71 and Rt. 37 on July 9 had been deleted, along with a couple of vacation videos.