ACLU sues Philly police for allegedly harassing man who videotaped arrests

philadelphia crime rl
RIKARD LARMA/METRO

The Pennsylvania ACLU on Wednesday co-filed a federal lawsuit alleging First Amendment rights violations on behalf of Christopher Montgomery, a Philadelphia man charged with disorderly conduct in January 2011 after using his cell phone to record a crowd of young people being arrested in Center City.

“When George Holliday recorded the beating of Rodney King, he taught us that ordinary people can use ordinary resources to fight police misconduct,” state ACLU director Reggie Shuford said in a statement. “It is essential that we preserve the right – and the tools – for holding our public officials accountable for their behavior.”

The suit alleges First Amendment retaliation, malicious prosecution, illegal search and seizure and false arrest and imprisonment.

According to the complaint, Montgomery and a friend were waiting at 15th and Market streets for friends to arrive on Jan. 23, 2011 when they saw a verbal altercation between a group of young people and an older man. The fight drew a crowd of onlookers that moved down the block and into a nearby Wendy’s.

Police soon arrived and began taking some of the youth into custody. Montgomery, a photojournalist, “was concerned with the size of the police response and wanted to observe their activity” and began filming the arrests on his iPhone, court documents state.

He filmed several of those exchanges from a reasonable distance without incident.

The trouble began when Montgomery caught on tape one particularly contentious exchange during which he said an officer told a young man that he was being arrested “for being a dickhead,” according to the complaint.

That was when, according to Montgomery, an officer arrested him, took his phone and deleted the video. He was issued a citation for disorderly conduct, but successfully appealed the charge several months later.

Montgomery is seeking compensatory and punitive damages whose amount has not yet been determined, as well as attorney’s fees.

The suit alleges the incident wasn’t isolated, but that supervisory officials in the department “knew that PPD officers routinely retaliated against civilians for watching and/or recording them,” but rather than disciplining those officers, they “instead encouraged and directed such practices.”

The ACLU said the suit is the first in what will be a series of legal actions taken against Philadelphia police officers, who they say “routinely manufacture criminal charges to retaliate against individuals who observe or record police activity.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…