A photojournalist has recovered digital video of his legally questionable arrest at an Occupy Miami protest. Police illegally tried to delete the video, Carlos Miller claims, and it's set the scene for possible legal action.
Miami-Dade police arrested Miller, a member of the National Press Photographers Association, as they evicted Occupy Miami protesters from their campsite Jan. 31, the website Ars Technica reports. Miller was charged with one count of resisting arrest.
The NPPA's general counsel complained in a letter to police that Miller's arrest was unconstitutional. A police attempt to delete Miller's raw video was also wrong, the counsel said -- and it's hit a raw nerve among journalists.
Recent cases suggest that police acted illegally in allegedly deleting Carlos Miller's Occupy Miami videos, NPPA attorney Mickey Osterreicher wrote to police. A First Circuit opinion held that journalists have a First Amendment right to record police activities in public, and the Justice Department has argued that police deletion of seized digital recordings is unconstitutional as well, Osterreicher said.
If police thought they could get away with their alleged attempted deletion, they apparently aren't too tech-savvy: "Deleted" files can often be retrieved as raw data, Ars Technica points out.
"And that means that police officers who delete videos not only expose their departments to liability, they may not even succeed in suppressing the embarrassing video," Ars Technica says.
NPPA's Osterreicher also challenged Carlos Miller's resisting-arrest charge, arguing that police had no reason to try to arrest him in the first place. Recovered clips from Miller's video camera prove he did nothing wrong and did not resist arrest, Osterreicher said.
Miller's arrest violated "the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution as well as the Privacy Protection Act of 1980 and similar protections provided by Florida law," the NPPA attorney wrote. Journalist Carlos Miller says he plans to file state and federal complaints over his arrest and deleted Occupy Miami videos.
- Journalist recovers video of his arrest after police deleted it (Ars Technica)
- If You Are Arrested In Florida (FindLaw)
- Florida Criminal Laws (FindLaw)
- Citizens Have Right to Videotape Police Arrests, 1st Circuit Rules (FindLaw's Decided)