New York Lawsuit Fights for Right to Record Police Officers

New York – Last week, a Federal lawsuit was filed against the New York Police Department, which requested that individuals are granted the right to film or record officers working in public places. The suit lists several accounts of arrests where people recorded confrontations with police, and it was filmed by one of the people arrested.

According to the New York Times, the suit “seeks a permanent injunction barring New York City employees from retaliating against those who record them in public.”

Despite the fact that New York’s Police Department Patrol Guide says that “taking photographs, videotapes or tape recordings” is not probable cause for an arrest, the lawsuit maintains that there is still “a widespread policy, practice and custom” of police intervention with those who choose to record them.

The lawsuit contained eight accounts where individuals were recording police activity in public, and were ordered by the police officers to either leave the scene, or to delete the data.

The testimonies ranged from Debra Goodman, who was arrested in 2013 for taking a video of emergency medical technicians speaking to a woman in a wheelchair, while police officers watched, to Diego Ibanez, who was arrested in 2013 for recording videos of police officers making arrests inside of a subway station.

One of the lawyers involved in filing the lawsuit, Norman Siegel, hopes the City of New York will adopt a policy along the same lines as the one used by the Baltimore Police Department.

After dealing with a lawsuit in 2010, in which a Baltimore man claimed that the police had taken his cellphone and deleted a video he had taken of an arrest, the Justice Department concluded that people have the right to record police officers.

In a letter regarding the decision, the department wrote, “the justification for this right is firmly rooted in longstanding First Amendment principles.