Dan Grossman, the attorney who spearheaded the Atlanta Eagle settlement last year, was instrumental in securing a $40,000 settlement last week for a Copwatch member who had his iPhone confiscated after videotaping police.
Like the first settlement, last week’s settlement specifically forbids Atlanta cops from preventing citizens from videotaping them.
Between those two settlements, Atlanta police should now know that forbidding citizens from photographing or videotaping them will not be tolerated. Only time will tell if they are able to abide by these settlements.
The $40,000 settlement stems from an incident last year involving a Cop Watch member named Marlon Kautz who used his cell phone to record police making an arrest.
Two cops approached him, telling he had no right to record them. Kautz continued videotaping, prompting the cops to yank the phone out of his hand and twist his arms behind his back.
The cops ended up deleting the footage.
The footage was recovered, but it was mostly corrupted. Here is a Copwatch video where members discuss what happened that day.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
As part of Thursday’s settlement, reached before a civil rights lawsuit was filed, the city will pay Kautz and Copwatch of East Atlanta $40,000 in damages. APD will also adopt an operating procedure that prohibits officers from interfering with citizens who are taping police activity, provided individuals recording the activity do not physically interfere with what the officers are doing. The policy is to be adopted within 30 days after the Atlanta city council approves the settlement, and training is to be carried out during police roll calls.
“We commend the city for resolving a long-standing problem of police interfering with citizens who monitor police activity,” the group’s lawyers, Gerry Weber and Dan Grossman, said.
Grossman included a similar stipulation in last year’s settlement, even though that one stemmed from an illegal raid on a gay bar that did not necessarily involve preventing citizens from videotaping cops, but police did end up confiscating everybody’s cell phones during the raid, even though they had not committed crimes.
Copwatch of East Atlanta had another incident last month when one of its members was pulled over by a cop and was ordered to stop videotaping. The Copwatch member continued recording, despite the cop telling him, “you don’t have the right to film me, if I don’t want to be filmed.”
But the cop ended up backing down after the Copwatch member insisted on videotaping.