We have yet another settlement against a police department for the arrest of a citizen for videotaping police in public. 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 (most recently here), these abuses continue. New York photojournalist Philip Datz won a $200,000 settlement stemming for his 2011 arrest during which Suffolk County Police Sergeant Michael Milton proclaimed “I’ve been doing this for 30 years. There’s nothing you can hold over my head or anybody out there.”
This case is particularly serious because Datz was wearing press credentials. He was working for Stringer News Service, which sells video to television stations and other news outlets. He was arrested in Bohemia on Long Island in July 2011 when he started to videotape a scene while standing with other bystanders.
Here is the videotape that shows the officer clearly denying he rights of Datz and acting abusively:
The settlement also requires a new training program. However, once again, there is no mention of any disciplinary action against the officer (though such discipline may have been reached on a voluntary or undisclosed basis). This case happened to be captured on videotape so there was no question about the lack of any basis for the charge. Without the videotape, it would have been a dispute between the arrestee and the officer which ordinarily goes against the arrestee.
Absent such discipline, Milton will have been proven correct that “there’s nothing you can hold over my head.”
Here is the original complaint.
Kudos: Michael Blott