Lawsuit Claims Police Took Camera a Day After Lanier’s Camera Rule
Remember when Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier issued a general order back in July reminding officers not to take cameras and phones from people who were filming them? Because of the whole First Amendment thing?
As if to underscore the need for Lanier's order, a day after it was issued an MPD officer allegedly took D.C. resident Earl Staley's phone because he was filming another officer. When Staley eventually got his phone back, he says he discovered its memory card was missing.
Now, in a lawsuit filed today against the city and two officers, Staley is suing to get the card back.
"I fear it was thrown into a sewer or a shredder or something," says Arthur B. Spitzer, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of the National's Capital and one of Staley's attorneys. Spitzer says Staley was hoping that an Internal Affairs investigation would recover the card, though it's now been so long that Spitzer's concerned the card can't be found.
MPD referred questions to the Office of the Attorney General, which declined to comment.
But this isn't your typical memory card, useful only for its high score on Snake. Spitzer says that Staley's card is filled with photos of his now-three-year-old daughter since she was born that haven't been backed up anywhere else. In the suit (PDF), posted online by the Legal Times' Mike Scarcella, Staley asks for mandated First and Fourth Amendment training for MPD officers and the memory card. Failing that, though, the suit asks for monetary damages.
"The next best thing is money," Spitzer says.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery