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Wed, May 16, 2012

Woman Arrested, Detained For Days For Taking Photo Near Airport

She Had Snapped A Photo Of A Helicopter Display

A Kodak moment went seriously awry recently when a mother of three was arrested for taking a picture of an object that was intended as public art and in plain public view.

The incident occurred near Gabreski Airport in Suffolk County, New York. The object Nancy Genovese photographed is the decorative shell of a helicopter on display near the entrance of the airport in full public view. She said she intended to put the snapshot on her "Support Our Troops" website.

But according to a story in American Vision News online, Genovese was stopped after taking the photograph by Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Robert Iberger, who demanded to know why she was taking the picture, and confiscated the memory card from her camera. When he contacted the Suffolk county Sheriff's Office, he said Genovese represented a "terrorist threat" to the airport.

The reaction was over the top. Among those responding to the call were airport officials, Homeland Security, the FBI, the Southhampton Police Department, and the Westhampton Police Department. Genovese and her 18- and 20-year-old sons ... who had come to their mother's assistance ...  were reportedly placed in front of cameras, told not to move, and were questioned for six hours by the side of the road without access to food, water, or restroom facilities ... all reportedly without being informed of their Constitutional rights.

But it gets even more bizarre. The woman, an avid shooter, had an unloaded rifle in a locked case in the trunk of her car, which was discovered during a search conducted without her consent. She also had a cut on her leg which the officers described as a "knife wound." Her sons said she had been carrying $13,000 cash to pay one's college tuition the next day, and $5,300 was reportedly missing when they went back to reclaim the by-then-damaged car.

When the airport officials determined she was no threat to the airport ... she had never set foot on airport grounds ... the left her in the hands of the local authorities about midnight. She was arrested on one count of misdemeanor trespass, and held until $50,000 bail could be raised. While incarcerated, she was again questioned despite having asked for an attorney, treated at a local hospital for the leg wound while handcuffed to the bed, and forced to disrobe and wear a "suicide gown" while being held in jail until a psychiatric evaluation could be completed. She was held in jail under suspicion of being a terrorist for several days.

Eventually, when it was determined that her point-and-shoot camera was not "surveillance equipment" and her firearm was legal, all charges against Nancy Genovese were dropped. There has been no retraction or apology from the law enforcement officials who put her through the ordeal ... and she has filed a $70 million lawsuit against the various parties involved.

FMI: www.southamptontownny.gov

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