Baltimore Police Sued For Allegedly Beating and Arresting Woman Who Filmed Them In Public

114px-Baltimore_Police_Department_logo_patchWe have yet another case of police being accused of beating a citizen for filming them in public. Makia Smith says that Baltimore police beat her up and smashed her camera when they filmed them beating a man in the street. She is now suing the Baltimore Police Department, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and police Officers Nathan Church, William Pilkerton, Jr., Nathan Ulmer and Kenneth Campbell in Federal Court.

We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue.

Smith says that she was in rush hour traffic when she saw the officers beating a young man. She pulled out her camera and says that “Officer Church saw plaintiff filming the beating and ran at her,” the complaint states. “He scared her and she sat back in her vehicle. As he ran at her, he yelled, ‘You want to film something bitch? Film this!’

She accuses Officer Church of grabbing the camera and smashing it on the ground and then pulling her out of her car by her hair and beating her. She says that Officers Pilkerton, Ulmer, and Campbell then joined in on beating her while her child watched from the car. She says that the officers taunted her that her child would be taken away and would not call her mother. She claims that she was charged with assaulting Church and resisting arrest, but that Church failed to appear in court twice. Only then did prosecutors drop the charges.

She is now seeking $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages for civil rights violations, conversion and infliction of emotional distress.

I have not been able to find the response of the Baltimore police to the lawsuit. However, I find the dropping of the charges telling. If she was charged with assaulting an officer, that is usually a charge that receives priority treatment from prosecutors and police. However, it is also a charge that we have seen made in cases of abuse to silence victims or justify an arrest.

Source: Courthouse News

33 thoughts on “Baltimore Police Sued For Allegedly Beating and Arresting Woman Who Filmed Them In Public”

  1. Here is something else to think about – two poorly trained police rookies shot & killed a 72 year old stand up citizen on his own property for being alert when a burglary of his neighbor’s property was in progress.

  2. The honorable Public Servants do not care if they are filmed or recorded and they will police their own or suffer the consequences. Give that a thought!

  3. Counties and municipalities will need to be repeatedly slapped with large verdicts until the message filters down to police departments.

  4. Baltimore is gaining infamy as the city where police have the right to do whatever they choose. Look up Sgt. Dennis Worley, who falsified a warrant and when he and his pals raided the apartment and did not find what they sought, smashed Christmas presents. Worley was found guilty of perjury but the judge decided he would be at high risk if placed in prison. No prison for criminals who have a badge..

  5. OS,
    that was a great video! You would think that police would assume that they are being recorded these days. And I hope that they are.

  6. There is another aspect of this that needs scrutiny and comment here. What we have are tough guy males with guns beating up a woman who is unarmed. These low lifes need to be beaten up very badly.

  7. If any of you fellow bloggers live in that dog foresaken town then you should demand that the Chief resign, that the cops involved be fired, that the Police Board institute some new rules on the matter.

    This conduct is beyond the Pale. That means that it is beyond that which occurs beyond the Paletinate. East of Corfu the Ten Commandments Dont Apply and that sort of Pirate Territory. You really live in a Pirate Territory if you live in Baltimore. If you live there and do not take action to cure this then you are low life.

  8. There are several civil rights violations to be articulated in a federal Complaint here: false arrest, assault, battery, false imprisonment. But she has a better violation with the First Amendment. She should allege that she was exercising her right to petition her government for redress of grievances by taking the video or still photos. She was going to show these to the public, to the City Alderman, to the State Legislature. She was exercising her right to free speech.
    The Complaint which she likely filed was premised on actions taken by state actors under color of law in violation of her rights protected under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments. The state actors are the arresting Law Enforcement Offenders, their Superior Officers, the Chief and the City is liable for municipal liability under the Monell doctrine. Attorneys fees on top of the civil damage award. Punitve damages against all defendants except the city. Nominal damages if they just yell at her and actual damages as they went so far as to assault, batter, falsely arrest, damage to property and interfere with her right to free speech, association and to petition her government for redress of grievances. See or Google: Title 42 Untied States Code, Section 1983 and Section 1988. Section 1985 provides for a conspiracy claim. If two or more got together to deprive her of these rights then their conspiracy is actionable as well. That could be more cops not in the chain of command who nonetheless put together the program to stomp on folks who film opCays. Law Enforcement Offenders at their finest hour.

    If this happens to someone you know then help them find a lawyer who knows the ropes.

  9. I am loosing my faith with Baltimore city police ,it’s just a legalize gang unit.

  10. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/05/15-7
    Published on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by Common Dreams
    How the US Turned Three Pacifists into Violent Terrorists
    by Fran Quigley
    (Fran Quigley is an Indianapolis attorney working on local and international poverty issues).

    “These non-violent peace activists now sit in jail as federal prisoners, awaiting their sentencing on September 23, 2013.

    In ten months, an 82 year old nun and two pacifists had been successfully transformed by the U.S. government from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism.”

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