In a video provided to us, two Randolph police officers detained a man for recording them at the scene of a car accident on Memorial Day. During the detention, one of the officers shouts and throws a temper tantrum. The officers disarmed the man, who is a veteran, by gabbing his knife out of his pocket despite never giving any probable cause for the detention or for the seizure. The man, who asked us not to release his name for fear of reprisal, described himself as an, “Infantry marine going around on Memorial Day trying to at least uphold my oath to the Constitution.”
When the man pressed the officers to say what crime they thought he had committed, they admitted that they did not suspect him of committing any crime. When he asked if the knife was illegal to carry, the officers said no, but refused to return it anyway. The officer added, “And if you had a gun and you had a license to carry a gun on you, I wouldn’t give it to you.”
I contacted Randolph police chief William Pace, and provided a copy of the video for him to comment on. In the week since I contacted him, Pace has failed to address the many disturbing issues seen in the video.
As the video shows, the man explained that he stopped his vehicle and began recording when he heard an officer tell a woman who had been in a car accident, “You know why we’re searching your car right?” The man said he was just there to make sure that the woman whose car was being searched knew her rights.
His actions were not appreciated by the officers, who quickly detained him and ordered him to leave. When he wouldn’t leave, the officer who did most of the speaking, and coincidentally also identified himself as a veteran, flew into an impotent rage, shouting and threatening to take the man’s camera as “evidence.”
This threat to seize the camera became the police's stated reason for the detention. When asked what crime the officer thought his phone had evidence of, the officer said it might have footage of the car accident. The man responded by pointing out he wasn't present during the accident.
"What’s your name and badge number?" the man asked, but the tantrum throwing officer never provided any identification. Later the man pointed out that neither officer was wearing any sort of name-tag or badge. One of the officers said his name is Dee Zaiter, which is likely a nickname for Daniel Zaiter. I reached out to Zaiter to confirm that he was the officer in the video and for any comments he had, but he did not reply.
Despite supposedly needing the man's phone as evidence, the police eventually returned his knife to him and let him leave, highlighting the fact that they had no reason to detain him in the first place.
The Randolph Police Department managed to trample the veteran's First, Second, and Fourth Amendment rights in the matter of a minutes – and on Memorial Day to boot. Maybe in today's day and age we should be happy that the officers didn't just shoot him for carrying a legal knife.
The Randolph police opted not to talk about their failures to uphold their oaths with me, but perhaps if we all ask together, they will provide answers. The department's non-emergency number is (781) 963-1212. Chief William Pace's email is email@example.com and Dan Zaiter's email is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like to ask the town manager Dave Murphy to hold the officers accountable, send your thoughts to email@example.com.