The Suffolk County Police Department has harassed news videographer Philip Datz so many times over the years it thinks it can get away with anything.
Even before Sgt. Michael Milton embarrassed himself on a national level last year in the above video, bragging about his 30 years on the force before shoving Datz in the back of a patrol car, his fellow officers had established a pattern of making up their own laws when it comes to public videography.
In 2009, a police officer told Datz he was forbidden from recording in Suffolk County because his credentials had been issued in neighboring Nassau County.
As if credentials were even legally required in the first place.
And there were numerous incidents since then leading to the July 2011 incident with Milton.
But even after that video went viral, even after the Suffolk County police commissioner acknowledged it was an unlawful arrest, even after the Suffolk County State Attorney’s Office refused to file charges against Datz, they continued to harass him.
Hell, they continued to harass him even after they assured the National Press Photographers Association they would bring in instructors from the FBI Academy to retrain their officers in basic Constitutional law.
In fact, they harassed him on at least six separate incidents since then, according to the lawsuit Datz filed earlier today where you can read about all the incidents I mentioned in detail.
In all those incidents, Datz complained to a public information officer but nothing was ever done to remedy the situation.
Joining Datz in the lawsuit is the NPPA, who now uses the above video in training police on what not to do to a videographer.
“Milton has become the poster child of things they don’t want to do,” said Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel of the NPPA, who is frequently invited to police departments around the country to educate cops on photographer rights.
“I watch the officers’ reactions and they sit there with their mouths open and can’t believe he is saying those things. Not just saying those things but believing those things.”
Osterreicher said Datz is seeking unspecified damages.
“Part of the lawsuit is seeking an injunctive relief to prevent police from keeping the press further back than the general public,” Osterreicher said.
“We’re hoping the court will order them to stop doing that.”
That would mean they would face contempt-of-court charges if they continue conducting business as usual.
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CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write “carlos3” in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.