BOSTON — Arresting someone for filming the police is a constitutional violation, the Massachusetts district court announced Friday.
The case began when Simon Glik was taken into police custody for recording an arrest with his cell phone camera, according to Tech Dirt. Glik told police he saw an officer punch the suspect and believed their use of force was excessive, sources say. Officers reportedly asked him to stop recording because audio recording — a capability of Glik’s phone — violated Massachusetts wiretap laws.
Glik was charged with disturbing the peace and aiding in the escape of a prisoner — charges that were later dropped — but he sued the officers who arrested him and the City of Boston for failing to investigate the case further. His First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated, he said.
Absent some clear violation of law unrelated to the act of videotaping cops' actions, officers are advised to carefully consider the legalities surrounding the decision to arrest.
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The police officers filed for qualified immunity, which is designed to protect them against frivolous charges, but the district court ruled in Glik’s favor, unequivocally stating that recording police in public is protected under the First Amendment.
“A citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment,” the decision said.
The court also ruled that the use of Massachusetts wiretapping laws to arrest Glik was a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.
Check out the video below, created by the ACLU (we will refrain from making any editorial comment vis-a-vis the source, in which Gilk is interviewed and the original video he shot can be seen).