Police in Indianapolis will now be required to allow members of the public to film them while they are performing their duties, as part of a settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit against them, the Indiana Lawyer reported on Thursday.
The settlement also awards $200,000 to Willie King, who accused police of false arrest and malicious prosecution after forcefully arresting him during a February 2011 encounter. At the time, King was filming police with his phone from a neighbor’s front porch after spotting them handcuffing another man.
An officer then ordered King to hand the phone over. When King refused, the officer tackled him to the ground and confiscated his phone. King was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.
“Willie King was wronged when the officers stopped his videotaping and took away his cellphone,” King’s attorney, Richard Waples, was quoted as saying. “We want to make sure that in the future police officers understand that people have the right to video record their actions.”
King was subsequently found not guilty in a “bench trial,” at which point he filed a civil rights case against the police department and the City of Indianapolis, accusing them of violating his First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. His case was scheduled to go to trial on March 10, but charges against him were dropped as part of the settlement.
Police Chief Rick Hite now has two months to issue a bulletin informing his officers that they should not stop civilians observing or filming their actions in public, so long as the person filming does not interfere with their duties and keeps a “safe and reasonable” distance.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]