Within two weeks of a federal ruling that stripped a New Hampshire police department of qualified immunity in a wiretapping arrest, the town dished out $57,500 to the woman they arrested.
And while that may be a third of the $170,000 Simon Glik received from his settlement after the same federal court ruled that Boston police did not have qualified immunity in his arrest, it is a sizable chunk of change for a town of less than 10,000 people.
According to Ars Technica:
The plaintiff in the case, Carla Gericke, was arrested on wiretapping allegations in 2010 for filming her friend being pulled over by the Weare Police Department during a late-night traffic stop. Although Gericke was never brought to trial, she sued, alleging that her arrest constituted retaliatory prosecution in breach of her constitutional rights. The department, without admitting wrongdoing, settled Thursday in a move that the woman’s attorney speculated would deter future police “retaliation.”
“Unfortunately, sometimes, the only thing that changes entrenched behaviors is if it becomes too costly to continue those behaviors,” attorney Seth Hipple said. “This settlement helps to make it clear that government agencies that choose to retaliate against videographers will pay for their retaliation in dollars and cents. We are confident that this settlement will help to make arrests of videographers a thing of the past.”
Before the settlement, the appeals court had kept alive the possibility of a trial because New Hampshire law forbids the recording of police if the authorities order people to disperse for legitimate safety concerns. A trial could have determined whether the woman was being disruptive and whether police feared for their safety because the driver of the vehicle that was pulled over said he had a firearm, the appeals court wrote.
The woman was following a friend to his house when an officer pulled him over. From about 30 feet away, after getting out of her car, she announced she was going to audio-record the stop, according to the record. Ironically, her video camera malfunctioned, and she was unable to capture anything. She returned to her car, according to the opinion.
Hopefully, this will put a stop to the habit of the Weare Police Department to arrest people for wiretapping as they have done in the past.