First Amendment Lawsuit Results In Louisiana Police Department Training Officers To Respect Citizens With Cameras
from the telling-them-something-they-already-know dept
Another police department has “learned” it has to respect the First Amendment rights of citizens. A settlement obtained by the ACLU as the result of a civil rights lawsuit will result in additional training that surely should be redundant at this point in time.
Training officers on First Amendment rights, including the public’s right to photograph officers while performing their public duties, has been implemented at the Lafayette Police Department. The training was included in a settlement announced by the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana today.
The lawsuit [PDF] was brought by Chelline Carter, who had her camera warrantlessly seized and searched by Officer Shannon Brasseaux of the Lafayette PD. Carter had been called to a local drugstore because her son had just been arrested. After helping the officer find her son’s ID card, Carter walked over to the vehicle her son had been placed in and took a photo of him.
Officer Brasseaux then took Carter’s phone from her, claiming she had broken the law by taking pictures of “evidence” [?]. He then swiped her phone to open it, searched for the photo she had taken of her son, and deleted it.
Despite the officer’s claim Carter had broken the law, she was free to go after Brasseaux had deleted the photo. Carter filed a complaint the next day. Multiple violations occurred here, but the settlement apparently contains no further instructions for officers to follow the Supreme Court’s Riley decision. The rights violation took place in January 2017, three years after the Supreme Court declared warrants were required for cellphone searches.
Still, it’s a good win on the First Amendment side, firmly establishing a right to record police in Louisiana. The settlement also will require the police to pay Carter’s $12,000 in legal fees. Citizens of Lafayette should be righteously pissed Officer Shannon Brasseaux has dipped into their pockets to pay for his unwillingness to respect citizens’ rights. It was a bullshit move and likely one Brasseaux has gotten away with before. If he hadn’t, he probably wouldn’t have attempted it during an arrest in which everything else had gone by the book.