Photography Advocate/Journalist Acquitted After Arrest Over Filming Police; Intends To Sue Back

from the good-for-him dept

We've linked to the blog, PhotographyIsNotACrime.com (PINAC), a few times in the past (it recently moved locations). Its author, Carlos Miller, not only covered a number of cases involving photographers being arrested or harassed for photographing buildings, police or something else, but was a defendant in just such a case himself. Miller was arrested back in January while videotaping police at an "Occupy Miami" event. Not only was he arrested, but his camera was confiscated and the police deleted footage from the camera -- including footage of the encounter that led to his arrest. The police claimed that Miller had disobeyed an order by the police to "clear the area." However, the videotaped footage -- which Miller was able to recover despite the deletion -- showed a different story. It showed a clearly-aware-of-his-rights Miller making the case that he was doing nothing wrong. Furthermore, other journalists were allowed to stay in the area, and one of those journalists, Miami Herald reporter Glenn Garvin, testified at the trial about how he was allowed to stay. In fact, he went to the officer who arrested Miller and asked her if he needed to move, and she told him he was "under no threat of getting arrested."

It also turned out that police were specifically on the lookout for Miller:
An e-mail disclosed during the trial showed the police had been monitoring Miller's Facebook page and had sent out a notice warning officers in charge of evicting the Occupy Miami protestors that Miller was planning to cover the process.
Given all that, it's not too surprising that the jury wasted little time in finding him not guilty. But the case isn't over just yet. Miller is vowing to sue, claiming the arrest and (attempted) deletion from his camera violated his constitutional rights. And he's got some precedent on his side. As we've noted, Boston recently had to pay Simon Glik $170,000 after an appeals court ruled, in a similar case, that his arrest for filming police was a violation of the First and Fourth Amendments -- though that was based on wiretap laws, so it was slightly different. Either way, Miller's follow up suit should be worth watching.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Glen, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 9:42am

    I hope he breaks the bank on that department.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Michael, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 9:51am

      Re:

      So the taxpayers can pay for misbehaving police officers?

      I hate these kinds of cases. Of course, you want Miller compensated, but the fact that it will come out of the pockets of taxpayers and not directly out of the pockets of those responsible always makes me cringe.

       

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      •  
        icon
        orbitalinsertion (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 9:59am

        Re: Re:

        This may prompt taxpayers to give a damn about what their police are doing, rather than staying with that "it hasn't affected me (yet)" attitude.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Michael, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Let's hope they don't start sending the police chief email messages with "respect the press pass" in the subject.

           

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        •  
          icon
          Kelly (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:09am

          Re: Re: Re:

          One should hope so. Photography should never be a crime.

           

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          •  
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            DannyB (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            > Photography should never be a crime.

            I saw a store that sold cameras and related criminal accessories such as lenses, bags, etc.

            It was right next to a store that sold skateboards and related criminal skateboarding accessories.

            What is the neighborhood coming to?
            Think of the children!

             

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          •  
            identicon
            Michael, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:44am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Photography of ugly people should be strictly regulated.

             

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        •  
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          Arsik Vek (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          This may prompt taxpayers to give a damn about what their police are doing, rather than staying with that "it hasn't affected me (yet)" attitude.

          I doubt it. People have trouble seeing beyond the proximate step in a chain.
          1)"Oh yeah, stick it to the government!"
          2)???
          3)"Why are my taxes so high?"

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I see that you practice what you preach by not having an avatar pic of yourself.....

             

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Damn, hit the wrong reply button. Was supposed to be in reply to Michael above with his comment that said:

              Photography of ugly people should be strictly regulated.


              I have to start paying attention when I troll.

               

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      •  
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        John Fenderson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:46am

        Re: Re:

        The government is us, and in the final analysis we are collectively the ones responsible for allowing this type of behavior to happen. If we as taxpayers don't want to have to pay these types of fines, then we can and should correct the underlying problem.

         

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        •  
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          btr1701 (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          > The government is us, and in the final
          > analysis we are collectively the ones
          > responsible for allowing this type of
          > behavior to happen. If we as taxpayers
          > don't want to have to pay these types
          > of fines, then we can and should correct
          > the underlying problem.

          The problem with that theory is that elections come in 2-to-4-year cycles and by the time you're able to vote them out, little Timmy and Sally have already had their band program or tennis team at school cut because all the money had to go to pay off a bunch of lawsuits.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
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            John Fenderson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Voting is hardly our only means of control over how the government works, especially at the local level. Arguably, it's not even the most important control we have.

             

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          •  
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            John Fenderson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The problem with that theory


            Also, it's not really theory (if by theory you mean hypothesis). It's how our system is consciously designed and intended.

            The real problem with it is that people neglect their power as citizens and forget that they are in fact the government themselves.

             

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        •  
          identicon
          MAC, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 12:34pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The government is not us, it's our representatives.
          Why does everyone get so confused as to what form of government we have? It's a Republic not a Democracy and therein lies the problem...

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
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            John Fenderson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 1:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            We are a mix of a republic and democracy. Saying we're a republic without qualification is just as wrong (or just as right, depending on your viewpoint) as saying we're a democracy without qualification.

            We're a mongrel system of government. This is a good thing.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
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              Bergman (profile), Nov 10th, 2012 @ 10:26pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The problem with an absolute democracy is what ultimately killed the Athenian democracy. The ability to, to use the modern term for it, vote people off the island.

              Pure democracy is like two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. The sheep won't like the results of being outvoted.

              The U.S. is a constitutional democratic republic. Like John says, we're a mongrel system. We were set up that way in an attempt to circumvent the weaknesses in pure republics and pure democracies.

               

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 2:07pm

        Re: Re:

        This is why police / prosecutors need to have great retirement plans. So that when they violate someones rights, the payment can come out of the officers pay, instead of the taxpayers pocket

         

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 9:43am

    "police had been monitoring Miller's Facebook page"

    As social-networking sites are part of the surveillance state, then surely the data-miners are too. -- That means Google.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Michael, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 9:52am

      Re: "police had been monitoring Miller's Facebook page"

      Slow down Superman. That leap wasn't just over a tall building, but into another zip code altogether.

       

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    •  
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      Chosen Reject (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 9:56am

      Re: "police had been monitoring Miller's Facebook page"

      OH NO!!! THAT MEANS FACEBOOK, TOO!!!!

      When Google starts arresting people, I'll start worrying.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        MAC, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 12:32pm

        Re: Re: "police had been monitoring Miller's Facebook page"

        Google will never arrest you. They will simply provide means by which others can arrest you.

         

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    •  
      icon
      Jeff (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:19am

      Re: "police had been monitoring Miller's Facebook page"

      When social-networking sites are part of the surveillance state, then we'll figure out who the fuck you are and send the men in white coats to go collect your ass....

       

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    •  
      icon
      DannyB (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:34am

      Re: "police had been monitoring Miller's Facebook page"

      Dang! I knew that evil Google must somehow be to blame.

       

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  •  
    icon
    Machin Shin (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 9:45am

    What I find disappointing about all this though is that even if he wins it is still a loss. Sure he can win and get paid a nice settlement but we the tax payers are paying it. So in the end we have the government trampling on our rights and when we complain they simply hand us back OUR OWN MONEY.

    This will not change until they start taking these fines out of the responsible parties salaries.

     

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    •  
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      DannyB (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:36am

      Re:

      It might take the taxpayers paying, at first, in order to result in the changes that make the culprits responsible.

       

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    •  
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      wulfman (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:11am

      Re:

      He needs to SUE the officers directly as well as the department. make sure they feel the pain of an empty bank account

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 8:23pm

      Re:

      all part of the plan

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
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      Niall (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 3:54am

      Re:

      It depends what he does with the money. If he donates it to charity, or finds some other constructive use for the money, then it's not a 'loss' to the taxpayer. On the other hand, given that the only language government and police departments speak involves avoiding bad publicity or large payouts, this is a good way to force them to behave in future.

      Besides, how much are your constitutional rights worth? Isn't it worth a bit to stem the incessant erosion of them? Especially when that erosion actually wastes more - after all, aren't the TSA total value for money in their abrogation of your rights?

       

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  •  
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    Dennis S. (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 10:15am

    While the conduct of the police is deplorable in this situation what I find even worse is the baloney the Prosecution tried to get the jury to swallow.

    From Miller's blog, Photography Is Not A Crime (PINAC), at http://www.photographyisnotacrime.com/2012/11/08/not-guilty/

    "A real journalist, he [the prosecutor] explained, was supposed to follow police orders without a second thought. A real journalist would never back talk to police. A real journalist would never question a direct police order as to why he was not allowed to stand on a public sidewalk."

    Thankfully the defense was able to shred that argument to shreds. What the prosecution was describing is what you see in dictatorships and other such countries, not what is supposed to be a free democracy.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 8:25pm

      Re:

      methinks you mean republic type democracy

       

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      •  
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        tqk (profile), Nov 10th, 2012 @ 1:01pm

        Re: Re:

        methinks you mean republic type democracy

        Methinks you mean a democratic republic. Wiktionary: "The United States is a democratic country, as the citizens are allowed to choose leaders to represent their interests."

        Also Wiktionary: "The United States is a republic; The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional monarchy."

        Dictionaries can be great reading.

         

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  •  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    Just like the rest...

    It's typical for the big city cops to arrest anyone they want to. They do it in Boston too; it's nothing unusual to see the cops arrest someone videotaping them. The city lost a lawsuit about this, but they still do it; the cops believe they are above the law.

     

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  •  
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    dave blevins (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 12:34pm

    hold the offenders personally libel

    Govt employees that break the law when policies explicitly prohibit such should be personally libel.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 12:52pm

      Re: hold the offenders personally libel

      Pretty sure they ARE peronally liable. It's a defense if they couldn't have known - if the case has to go to the Supreme Court to determine whether rights were violated, then the officers usually don't get in legal trouble, since there was an open question. I think it's called qualified immunity. But in this case, I highly doubt there is ANY question that deleting footage is illegal. If a crime was committed, the footage is evidence. If no crime was committed, they have no cause to delete it.

      But lawyers always want to go after the department because the department is actually going to have money. You're not going to get much out of the officer involved, probably.

       

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  •  
    icon
    Wally (profile), Jan 28th, 2013 @ 8:32pm

    In their defense (no not what you think)

    I think this a problem of prosecutional over-reach and cannot and shall not represent the various police departments in other municipalities. The idiots responsible for the arrest of Miller and his colleague to be shot and I hope Miller fights this, otherwise this arrest of his is all for not.

     

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