Cell phones have that certain power to record events that are occurring in the public sphere.
Sometimes, though, those who wield power aren't so keen to be filmed when they are exercising their might.
Here, for example, is one police officer who seems to believe that the Samsung Galaxy is a weapon.
I hadn't been aware that a slight increase in gadget-size could send it into the same category as, say, a machete.
However, in this footage a member of the San Diego Police Department seems to take great objection to being filmed on a Galaxy while writing a citation.
The citation was for smoking on Mission Beach boardwalk. The offender was Adam Pringle.
As Pringle told Web site Photography is Not a Crime, he had no objection to the citation. He simply filmed the officer in action.
His filming seems to show the officer becoming irate at being the focus of attention. He asks Pringle to put the phone away.
He then utters a line which has a certain immortality about it: "Phones can be converted into weapons." This is followed by an exhortation to "look it up online."
In this case, an altercation ensued.
Pringle says the policeman slapped the phone out of his hand. It allegedly broke apart, but the footage survived.
Pringle alleges that he was then assaulted by the other policeman.
He told Photography is Not a Crime: "Blood was everywhere. I was laying on my stomach and he had one knee on my back and the other knee on the side of my face."
Pringle says he was held in jail till 4 a.m.
The San Diego Police Department has yet to comment on these events, but I have contacted them in the hope that they will.
One can, perhaps, imagine that it is possible to hit someone over the head with a cell phone. I am not sure how much damage would be done by a Samsung Galaxy, but I would certainly not recommend that anyone find out.
There seems nothing in this footage to suggest that Pringle was being anything other than an ordinary citizen standing up for his basic rights.
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley offered a bleak view of any repercussions from these proceedings.
He wrote on his blog: "Unfortunately, such arrests rarely result in discipline for the officers even after the charges are thrown out."
Note: Photography is Not a Crime posted an update to its story, with additional video. You can see that by scrolling down here.