Jerome Vorus, who was detained for 30 minutes for taking photos of Washington D.C. cops last summer, filed a lawsuit Thursday against the police department.
Police told Vorus it was illegal to photograph them in public without their permission – a blatant lie.
The incident took place almost one year ago on July 3, 2010 as Vorus came across police making a traffic stop in Georgetown, as he describes on his blog.
He stood on a public sidewalk and began snapping photos.
He was immediately approached by a male cop who demanded to know for “security reasons” why he taking their photo. Vorus said he was taking photos for his photo collection.
Eventually, an Officer Wishnick informed Vorus he was being detained.
According to the lawsuit:
10. At about that time, Officer Wishnick informed Mr. Vorus that it was illegal to take pictures of MPD officers without prior authorization of the public information officer for MPD. Officer Jane Doe 1 ordered Mr. Vorus to stop taking photographs and to put away his camera. Officer Wishnick also informed Mr. Vorus that it was illegal for him to audio-record her without her consent, and ordered him to turn off his recorder.
11. After Mr. Vorus handed over his identification, he asked for a supervisor. Two sergeants eventually arrived, John Doe 2 and John Doe 3. They also stated that Mr. Vorus could not take photographs of officers or audio-record officers without the consent of the officers. One of the sergeants told Mr. Vorus that he had to stop audio-recording because it was against the law. Those statements were false.
12. In the course of this incident, four different MPD officers told Mr. Vorus that it was illegal to photograph MPD officers without permission or to record them without their consent. That is not the law in the District of Columbia. One female officer informed Mr. Vorus that because he was on the streets of the District of Columbia and an officer asked for his identification, it was his responsibility to provide it. That is not the law in the District of Columbia. Speaking of Mr. Vorus’ detention, the same officer said, “It’s a stop . . . We could stop anybody.” That is not the law in the District of Columbia.
While he was being detained, another man stopped by and took some photos, but police ordered him away, telling him he was breaking the law.
Vorus, who is being represented by the ACLU, is suing on the basis that his First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated and that he was falsely arrested.