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.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Photography Advocate/Journalist Acquitted After Arrest Over Filming Police; Intends To Sue Back”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
41 Comments
Arsik Vek (profile) says:

Re: 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?”

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

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.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: 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?

Dennis S. (profile) says:

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.

tqk says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »