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A man who was arrested and strip searched after taking photographs of New York City Police Department officers has reached a $125,000 settlement with the city.
Dick George filed a federal lawsuit against the city for police misconduct after being arrested for disorderly conduct in 2012, reports the New York Daily News. According to the lawsuit, George was arrested for documenting the officers' "stop-and-frisk" search of three youths.
Why was George's arrest likely a violation of his civil rights?
Right to Videotape, Photograph Police on Duty
Courts have generally found that citizens have a First Amendment right to videotape or photograph police activity occurring in a public place. Furthermore, police generally cannot confiscate or demand to see your footage or photographs without a warrant.
In this case, George claims that he was in his car when he saw three young people being searched by NYPD officers. He began taking pictures with his cell phone from inside his car.
After the officers had finished searching the youths, George claims he instructed the youths to get the officers' badge numbers next time they were searched. Overhearing this, the officers allegedly pulled George from his car and arrested him for disorderly conduct. The officers also allegedly deleted the pictures on George's phone.
False Arrest, Police Misconduct Lawsuits
Lawsuits against police for false arrest and other incidents of police misconduct are generally filed under the Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. Under Section 1983, a victim of malicious or unlawful police action can bring a lawsuit in federal court for deprivation of a constitutional right.
Although these lawsuits can be brought against individual police officers, they often name the city as a party as well, since the police department itself cannot be sued directly. However, before a lawsuit is filed, victims typically must first file a tort claim to give the government entity a chance to respond.
If you believe you have been the victim of police misconduct or false arrest, an experienced civil rights attorney can help explain your legal options.