Police Accidentally Record Themselves Conspiring Against Activist
In most cases, showing wrongful conduct by police officers involves some kind of circumstantial evidence. After all, showing retaliation, or bad intent, requires that we get into the head of the wrongdoer. Most law enforcement officers are not going to readily admit that they abused someone, or that they retaliated against them.
However, in a case of a “hot mic” (a microphone that is left on, recording people without their knowing), officers in Connecticut were recorded on video discussing how they could entrap and ticket a man who was filming them.
Man’s Video records Officers
The officers had detained the man, and seized his camcorder (after wrongfully telling the man that recording police was illegal), but, in what could be called karma, were not aware that as they brought the camera to their vehicle, (the camcorder they illegally confiscated), it was recording the officers discussing amongst themselves the best way to cover themselves for arresting the man.
Officers are heard saying that they need to “cover themselves,” and even suggested that they could make up a story that they had received reports that someone was carrying a gun as justification for stopping the man. They are heard asking other officers if they had a grudge against the man. They are heard as they open an investigation in the police database on the man. They finally decide that they will falsify criminal infraction tickets against the man.
One of the officers then curses, upon realizing that as he was talking, the camera was recording what was being said.
The ACLU reports that the man was well known to officers as being a vocal protester of DUI checkpoints.
Internal Affairs Clears Officers
The police were, amazingly, exonerated by internal affairs. As their defense, the officers claimed that their words on the video merely meant that they had to create a paper trail, documenting the facts of the arrest, as they were trained to do. Internal Affairs then objected to the release of their report, but later reversed their position, allowing it to be released.
Curiously, the internal affairs report does not address the officers’ misinforming the man that videotaping them was illegal.
A lawsuit was filed against the police for violation of the man’s first amendment and fourth amendment rights against search and seizure.
According to federal court records, the case remains open and pending. However, the case is a reminder that victims should not rely upon the findings of the police themselves, or on internal investigations reports, which will often side with law enforcement. It is also a reminder that so long as you are not interfering with officer’s work, or threatening them, there is nothing illegal about video recording police officers.
We help victims who have been abused by law enforcement, or who are victims of wrongful or retaliatory arrest. Contact the Alabama police misconduct attorneys at Lasseter Law Firm today to discuss whether you have a cause of action for damages.