Landmark Civil Rights Case Upholds Right to Record Police

Landmark Civil Rights Case Upholds Right to Record Police

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civil rights rally sign - Flickr-CC  Nevele OtseogA federal judge in Indianapolis ruled that police officers who stopped Willie King while he was recording video of an arrest had violated his rights.

As part of a settlement in the federal civil rights case, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was ordered to institute a new policy prohibiting police officers from interfering with civilians who are recording their actions.

King was arrested in February 2011 after he used his cellphone to videotape police officers arresting another man. King was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Following a bench trial that found him not guilty, King filed a federal civil rights case against the city of Indianapolis and the police officers involved in the incident, who he claimed had violated his First, Fourth and 14th amendment rights. In addition, he asserted the IMPD used excessive force against him and that he was a victim of false arrest and malicious prosecution.

“Willie King was wronged when the officers stopped his videotaping and took away his cellphone,” said King’s attorney Richard Waples. “We want to make sure that in the future police officers understand that people have the right to video record their actions.”

Within two months of signing the settlement agreement, the city’s police chief must issue a legal bulletin that explains officers should not interfere with civilians who are observing or recording their actions in public as long as these civilians maintain a safe and reasonable distance from the scene, do not interfere with the officers’ work, and do not pose a danger.

(READ more from Indiana Lawyer)

Photo via Flickr user, Nevele Otseog – CC license