“There’s Nothing You Can Hold Over My Head”: Suffolk Police Settle Arrest of Photographer For $200,000 in Latest Case Involving Filming of Police In Public

Photojournalist-wins-200K-settlement-for-illegal-arrest-300x160We 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

33 thoughts on ““There’s Nothing You Can Hold Over My Head”: Suffolk Police Settle Arrest of Photographer For $200,000 in Latest Case Involving Filming of Police In Public”

  1. LaserDLiquidator

    You know what the police’s take on this case is?

    Next time you arrest, make sure you destroy (erh – drop/damage) the video.

    Or better yet, next time BEFORE you make the arrest, tell the citizen you want $30,000 or you won’t arrest him. Still leaves the citizen with a nice profit.

    1. jeffD – the problem with your solution is that the bribery will still be on the tape. If they cut it out, it will show.

  2. Here is the only “training” needed. Ladies and gentlemen, repeat after me: there is no right of privacy afforded to police officers in the public performance of their duties.

  3. Yes, a police state alright as I noted when I first came to America in 1970… BUT this could be the begining of the end of our police state if judgements continue in favor of permiting journalists AND the general public to photograph the cops. Many of them have many withholds: things they have done that were illegal. Miss these withholds with a camers and you have the cop with a missed withhold. Hell hath no fury like a missed withhold! Thats why these guys get mad to try to justify their many bad deeds! But, eventually, it could be safe to stand on the other side of the road and film the police without interference. That will be a sunny day!

  4. Just a thought. Datz captured a lot of video with Sgt. Milton. He could have gone back to his car and make some calls.
    To ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX5, and PIX11 tips line. And then tape some more when the press shows up.

  5. Schulte, well, I’m sure there is a strip-search bite mark in this guy’s future. His personality is already a bite mark. Nothing about karma is fickle or random. If you don’t get a ticket from speeding, you are already wearing out your tires faster, paying up the butt for more fuel. Smoke tobacco, die! Eat wrong, suffer arthritis, e.g. If karma is fickle and random, then so is cause and effect.

  6. “This case is particularly serious because Datz was wearing press credentials.”

    Let’s make it clear this is not anymore or any less serious due to press credentials. EVERYONE enjoys the protections of the 1st Amendment.

  7. No abusive dirtbag like this makes it through life without accumulating lots of bite marks on the ass from karma. A strip search would show how many.

    1. samantha – doubt he has been the recipient of a strip search. And much as I would like to think that karma would bite him in the butt, karma seems rather random and fickle.

  8. This is a crooked cop, and there is no way one can force him to be honest and respect our rights. He should be fired now.

  9. “However, once again, there is no mention of any disciplinary action against the officer.”

    Don’t worry, someday an officer will be disciplined for violating the constitution. Probably.

  10. “However, once again, there is no mention of any disciplinary action against the officer. ” -Jonathan Turley

    Yep, “once again”…

    Just another bully with a badge. Take the badge away. Take the pension away. And just maybe, we’ll start to see a change in behavior.

  11. This one goes back to 2011 so I am going to give them a little wiggle room. I am not sure, even without retraining, that the officer would do the same thing today.
    Milton can be happy that he is responsible for the entire department being retrained, so there is that.

  12. “America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the b*st*rds.” Claire Wolfe

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