Over at Cato’s Police Misconduct web site, we have selected the worst case for the month of September. It was the Connecticut State Troopers who were caught on tape harassing a protester and fabricating charges against him.
According to news reports, Michael Picard was protesting near a DUI checkpoint. He had his cell phone camera out and was recording the scene. When a trooper noticed what he was doing, he angrily approached Picard and seized his phone saying it was illegal to record him. This is when things got interesting. Unbeknownst to the trooper, Picard’s cell phone was still recording as the trooper went back to his patrol car to confer with his colleagues. The troopers were anxious to “hit” Picard with some kind of charge, but they became frustrated with their options. Picard had a firearm, but a valid concealed carry permit. Picard did record them with his cell phone, but that’s legal too. What to do? To “cover their ass,” they decide to fabricate a story that several citizens were complaining about Picard’s supposedly “disruptive actions,” but these “witnesses” did not want to stay on the scene, so the troopers just had to take action on their own.
The charges against Picard were quickly dismissed. The ACLU has now filed a lawsuit on behalf of Picard.
The cell phone recording of the incident can be found here. Because the phone is evidently sitting on the roof of the patrol car, the value is in what can be heard, not seen. Listen and decide for yourself.
You just never know what kind of government agents you may encounter. Those who choose to film the police are especially vulnerable. We must all remember to lawyer-up when necessary.