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Baltimore Police to Pay $250,000 Settlement over Video Deletion Incident

The City of Baltimore is set to dish out a $250,000 settlement to a man whose footage they deleted after he video recorded them making an arrest at the Preakness Stakes horse race in 2010.

Not that the settlement forces them to admit they actually did delete Christopher Sharp’s footage.

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But the $250,000 settlement, which will be one of the largest yet in these type of cases, pretty much speaks for itself. Not to mention the legal statement from the U.S. Department of Justice the case prompted in 2012, which not only spelled out the legal guidelines Baltimore police must follow in dealing with citizens who record them in public, but set the bar for police departments around the country who were also clueless about this issue.

According to the Baltimore Sun:

Baltimore is set to pay $250,000 to a man who says police seized his cellphone and deleted the video of an arrest at the Preakness Stakes in 2010, according a settlement proposal that will be presented to the city’s spending panel this month.

Police “vigorously” dispute the allegations by Christopher Sharp who claimed officers violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights when they took his phone after the arrest of his female friend at Pimlico Race Course.

But the city lawyers said in the two-page document that because of “factual disputes,” a settlement will help the city “to resolve this litigation economically and to avoid the expense, time and uncertainties” of a potential jury verdict.

The case led to new city policies that uphold the right of citizens to record police.

George Nilson, the city solicitor, said the settlement was reached because both the police and law departments “thought it was the right thing to do.” He declined further comment, saying the matter was expected to come before the Board of Estimates on March 12.

The ACLU of Maryland, who filed the lawsuit in 2011, has not posted the news on its site yet because it is still not finalized, but they have many more details on about the case. They also produced the above video where Sharp talks about what took place that day.

Baltimore police have at least one other pending lawsuit in which a woman accuses a cop of grabbing her phone.

Makia Smith says she was stuck in stand-still rush hour traffic in March 2012 when she saw a group of cops beating up a man.

She stepped out of her car, stood on the door sill and began recording.

She was quickly confronted by an aggressive cop named Nathan Church, who grabbed her phone, threw it on the ground and smashed it with his foot.

“You want to film something, bitch? Film this,” he yelled.

He then proceeded to beat her.

Sharp also accused Baltimore police of engaging in a campaign of intimidation against him because of his lawsuit.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.