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The First and Second Amendments protect and reinforce each other. On September 11th, 2015, the protestor in this case, Michael Picard, was legally open carrying a handgun and had a camera running. The police took the camera, his pistol and pistol permit. They did not realize the camera was still recording.
Charges against Picard were eventually dropped, after he refused a plea bargain. On September 15th, 2016 the ACLU-CT has filed a civil rights law suit against the three individual police officers. From acluct.org:
HARTFORD — In a complaint filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU-CT) contends that three state police troopers illegally retaliated against a protester by searching and detaining him, confiscating his camera, and charging him with fabricated criminal infractions. On behalf of Connecticut resident Michael Picard, the ACLU-CT alleges that John Barone, Patrick Torneo, and John Jacobi, all employed by the state police division of Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, violated Picard’s First Amendment rights to free speech and information and Fourth Amendment right against warrantless seizure of his property.Here is the complaint filed with U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. From the lawsuit:
On September 11, 2015, Picard was protesting near a police DUI checkpoint in West Hartford. Barone approached him under the pretext of public complaints and confiscated Picard’s legally-carried pistol and pistol permit. Barone then claimed that filming the police is illegal, and took Picard’s camera. Unbeknownst to the troopers, the camera was recording when Barone brought it to Torneo’s cruiser. With the camera rolling, the officers proceeded to: call a Hartford police officer to see if he or she had any “grudges” against Picard; open an investigation of him in the police database; and discuss a separate protest that he had organized at the state capitol.
After Barone announced “we gotta cover our ass,” either Torneo or Jacobi stated “let’s give him something,” and the three settled on fabricating two criminal infraction tickets that they issued to Picard. Torneo drove away with Picard’s camera on top of his cruiser, upon which the camera fell onto the hood of the car, Torneo stopped, and Jacobi returned the camera to Picard. In July of this year, the criminal charges against Picard were dismissed in the Connecticut Superior Court.
This sort of lawsuit could have considerable impact on police attitudes across the United States. It is directed at the officers personally. It is based on long standing First and Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. It is a federal lawsuit based on civil rights. There is no question that the plaintiff was openly carrying a pistol.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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