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
News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.

National

Miss America thinks school should reconsider discipline of…

A Pa. student was suspended for asking Miss America to prom.

Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.

NHL

Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

MLB

Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.