The Justice Department is urging a federal District Court in Maryland to uphold a person’s right to record police, Politico reported.
The case involves a Montgomery County journalist’s lawsuit over being arrested while photographing county police officers in Wheaton.
Mannie Garcia took photographs of two Montgomery County Police officers in June 2011, “out of concern that they might be using excessive force,” Politico reported. Garcia was dragged, put into handcuffs and thrown to the ground, Politico reported, citing a complaint filed by Garcia in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. His camera battery and video card were taken by police and were never returned.
Garcia was acquitted of disorderly conduct and has since sued the officers and the department, Politico reported.
Read Politico’s report at Politico.com.
The National Press Photographers Association posted on its website a PDF of the supportive statement the Justice Department filed Monday. Attorney Robert Corn-Revere, who is involved in the case reportedly told the NPPA:
“We are very pleased that the Department of Justice filed a brief in support of the important constitutional issues raised in Garcia v. Montgomery County. The fact that the federal government has chosen to take a stand underscores the fact that this is far from an isolated case. Unfortunately, police departments in jurisdictions across the United States will have to learn from cases like this that photography is not a crime.”
The account is posted at NPPA.org.
The Justice Department statement comes after a Rockville resident was arrested for taking video of police during a traffic stop. Jared Parr—whose case was not related to the Justice Department’s statement—said he started recording police and posting the videos on YouTube because he was “put off by what seemed like a systemic problem of harassment and intimidation.”
Click here to read a Patch interview with Parr.