As police tried to control a melee in the aftermath of a boxing match in Maryland last year, one man pulled out his cell phone camera and began filming them slapping handcuffs on people.
That man was arrested, prompting another man in the crowd to blurt out, “What about the freedom of the press?”
That man, Melvin B. Thomas IV, was also arrested.
Both ended up spending 12 hours in jail on charges of disorderly conduct. The man who was filming the arrests, Leshon C. Ruffin, was also charged with failure to obey a lawful order.
All charges against the two men were dropped by the time they went to court.
Meanwhile, the two men that police had been handcuffing during the melee were released that same night without charges or jail time.
Now Thomas is suing the Anne Arundel County Police Department on false arrest, seeking $30,000 in damages. Ruffin is not part of the lawsuit although he should file his own suit.
According to charging documents filed by (Cpl. Russel )Hewitt, Ruffin was arrested because he attempted to approach the officers while they were handcuffing other people. He said that during the incident Ruffin “dropped” the camera phone.
Hewitt said he arrested Thomas because his yelling “was causing a disturbance to the sporting event.” He noted that both Ruffin and Thomas smelled of alcohol.
Thomas believes that race was a factor in the arrests because he and Ruffin are black while the men released were white.
But then again, the white men probably did not stand up for their First Amendment rights.