A worrying trend is moving across our nation as local and state governments move to ban citizens from recording their local government employees at work. In particular, governments are trying to stop citizen journalists from recording the police in action – this should worry everyone as a blatant attack on the First Amendment.
Well, a man in Florida has struck back at the government by winning a settlement from the police after they arrested him and confiscated his phone. His crime? Recording the police in action…
An Orlando man jailed for filming a police officer got more than his phone back.
Alberto Troche, who sued Orlando police for wrongfully jailing him and taking his phone, received $15,000 in a settlement, the Orlando Sentinel reported this week.
According to the lawsuit, Troche saw police arresting a man late one night in December of last year. Based on cries of pain from the man being arrested, Troche thought police were using excessive force and pulled out his phone to record. Several others did the same.
Police arrested Troche for recording the officers. Troche claimed he stood 10-15 feet away from the arrest and never interfered. He spent 15 hours in custody and didn’t get his phone back for three weeks.
In a video of the incident, police can be heard yelling at an indignant crowd. Police threaten to take their cell phones because they were recording, and then appeared to confiscate cell phones. They claimed the phone were needed for evidence.
In the video, a police officer can be heard shouting, ”We need the camera now!”
Someone in the crowd responded, “They can’t take your camera,” followed by, “Aw hell no! They cannot do that.”
“Anybody else wanna keep videotaping, I’ll take your phone for evidence as well!” an officer yelled over the crowd.
The officer then became sarcastic, saying “Please continue videotaping. I encourage it.”
Then, an officer moved toward the man video taping and grabs his phone.
“I’ll be taking that,” the officer says. Suddenly, the video ends.
Local news discovered that the officer who allegedly took the phone, Peter Delio, was the subject of a long list of complaints. Since November 2008, the officer was accused of “causing a traffic crash but arresting the other driver,” and “arresting the wrong person in a domestic violence dispute,” among other incidents.
A security guard who worked with Delio accused the officer of unprofessional conduct and explosions of anger.
City spokeswoman told the Orlando Sentinel she was unaware of any policy changes related to the suit.