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.

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Comments on “First Amendment Lawsuit Results In Louisiana Police Department Training Officers To Respect Citizens With Cameras”

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discordian_eris (profile) says:

Re: Sad

With qualified immunity and other judicial decisions, cops need to be specifically informed and trained on just about anything that violates the rights of citizens. Qualified immunity shields public officials from damages for civil liability so long as they did not violate an individual’s “clearly established” statutory or constitutional rights. Until a court says something is “clearly established”, the police are free to do what they want, and they have the absolute joy of not even needing to know anything about the law beforehand.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Now that’s some real cop thinking going on right there! It’s evidence, so I’m gonna go ahead and delete it. Proof positive that there’s an IQ cap to become a cop, and it’s not far north of retarded.

I think it’s time to start purging police departments of the simple minded morons who somehow think that the public will buy such an obvious pile of bullshit. Or at least they should bring in some smarter people to help them come up with a more plausible excuse.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not defending them, but the claim wasn’t that the picture was evidence, but that it was a picture of evidence.

That the ‘evidence’ in question was her son sitting in the police car is stupid enough on it’s own, as well as the idea that somehow taking a picture of ‘evidence’ is justification for deleting it, no need to misconstrue it and potentially give someone who might try to defend the action an out(a bad one to be sure, but still) by allowing them to point out that the criticism being made doesn’t match what happened.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

And then what?

Training? OK, Fine. What about enforcement? Will the police brass stand up and discipline officers who, after receiving this ‘training’ still violate citizens First Amendment right to film or record police in public, so long as they don’t actually interfere with police business? Will the police unions back up managements actions in protecting citizens rights? Will fellow officers condemn individuals or groups within their departments for going down the violation path?

Anonymous Coward says:

What surprised me....

…was that in this day and age, there are still people who don’t use a passcode on their phones.

If I take a picture on my phone and then turn it off, that photo is saved on the encrypted part of the phone and I have to log in to access it. Not only that, it is also stored in the cloud, so if someone confiscates my phone, I still have the picture.

Sure, having a locked phone is slightly less convenient… but it’s also a LOT more secure in the long run.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: What surprised me....

I not only don’t have a passcode on my phone, I don’t even encrypt it.

The former is a matter of convenience, and I keep meaning to get around to changing it, but haven’t done so yet.

The latter is mainly because I have yet to find a reliable way of backing up the phone and its data (such that I can restore it after a failed upgrade) that I’d expect to work with the encrypted storage.

(I run LineageOS, formerly CyanogenMod, so upgrades and rollbacks and so forth are entirely under my own control.)

The lack of encryption on the phone means that the lack of a passcode is significantly less of a security reduction than would otherwise be the case.

R.H. (profile) says:

Re: Re: What surprised me....

I thought that the TWRP recovery had fixed the issue that didn’t allow it to access encrypted partitions by now. Have they not? I’ve been considering rooting my Essential PH-1 after the Oreo update and if I can’t perform a full Nandroid backup because of the encryption, that makes it a bit more dangerous to play around with ROM’s.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What surprised me....

I’ve suspected that the problem was that my TWRP was too old, but I haven’t been able to find any documentation suggesting that they had done anything to fix the problem, and I haven’t upgraded TWRP in rather too long either. Then again, I’m also not particularly in the loop on TWRP development, and unlike LineageOS I never was.

I’ve got a week-and-a-half off work at the end of February, so maybe I’ll take the time to make a project out of it all at that point.

If you have any links to any information on the question, I’d be interested.

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