On August 29, 2011, plaintiff, a resident of Baltimore County, filed a complaint in Maryland State Circuit Court against the Baltimore City Police Department and three unnamed police officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleged that the Police Department had a practice and policy of ...
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On August 29, 2011, plaintiff, a resident of Baltimore County, filed a complaint in Maryland State Circuit Court against the Baltimore City Police Department and three unnamed police officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleged that the Police Department had a practice and policy of arresting and destroying the property of persons engaged in recording the public actions of police officers, in violation of Constitutional Rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments. It also amounted to a misapplication of the Wiretap Statute. Plaintiff sought a permanent injunction that would bar defendants from engaging in arrest and destruction of property for video recording police actions as well as compensatory damages.
Specifically, plaintiff claimed that he had used his cell phone to videorecord the police arresting his friend in a public place. Three police officers subsequently arrested and detained him for the filming, confiscated his phone, and wiped all video data from the device. This action destroyed not only the video of the arrest, but also images of plaintiff's children and other personal events.
On October 11, 2011, the case was transferred to the U.S. District Court of Maryland.
On January 10, 2012, the United States filed a Statement of Interest, arguing that the District Court should deny the Police Department's summary judgment motion.
On February 17, 2012, the District Court (Judge Benson Everett Legg) denied the Police Department's motion to dismiss the case or for partial summary judgment. In his opinion, Judge Legg noted that the First Amendment protected the plaintiff's right to photograph on-duty police officers in public, and that the defendants might have violated the plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights by deleting videos from the plaintiff's phone if this was done without a legitimate reason. Judge Legg further recognized the factual dispute regarding the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claim: whether the plaintiff voluntarily surrendered the phone to the police officers or not. Whether the Police Department promulgated or was deliberately indifferent to an illegal practice was also under dispute. The parties started the discovery process.
Settlement talks were unsuccessful and discovery disputes continued over the course of 2013 and early 2014. However, on April 7, 2014, the parties filed a joint stipulation of dismissal which included a settlement agreement. The settlement included awarding the plaintiff $25,000 in damages and $225,000 in attorneys fees. It further included an agreement that the Police Department would implement new policies concerning citizen recording of police activity.
On April 11, 2014, the stipulation of dismissal was granted by Judge Catherine C. Blake. The case was dismissed with prejudice subject to the Court's continuing jurisdiction to enforce compliance with the settlement agreement.Emma Bao - 06/24/2013
Richard Jolly - 11/26/2014