With the unlawful charges against her dropped, PINAC correspondent Theresa Richard has filed suit against the police officers that violated her First Amendment right to record and arrested her.
In December of 2013, Richard was arrested in a Crowley, Louisiana police station after dropping off a newspaper that detailed her lawsuit against Crowley officers that arrested her under highly questionable circumstances.
“Let’s do this,” said Lieutenant Scott Fogelman, who yanked Richard’s camera off of her neck and ripped the battery off of her camera. Fogelman arrested Richard for “remaining after being forbidden,” Louisiana’s version of trespassing, a charge which was dropped, likely after the prosecutor saw the egregious video of Fogelman unlawfully arresting Richard. That video is posted below.
Since that arrest, Chief K.P. Gibson posted signs at the department forbidding citizens to record. Carlos Miller flew out there with a PINAC correspondent in June and met with the chief, asking him to remove the signs prohibiting citizens from recording.
But the chief said he needed to ask permission from the state’s attorney general before removing the signs in the lobby.
In November, the state attorney’s general ruled in favor of the chief.
A Louisiana attorney general’s office opinion says Police Chief K.P. Gibson can prohibit audio or video recording at the Crowley police station.
KATC-TV reports Gibson asked for a ruling after a resident complained about the policy, which bans audio or video recording in the station’s lobby and waiting areas.
The chief says the policy is designed to protect victims, witnesses and others who might be waiting to speak to an officer. He says the department maintains video surveillance throughout the building.
While the opinion favors Gibson, it also says the chief should consider whether safety, security or privacy concerns warrant restrictions on the public’s right to gather information on government activities.
As of today, the signs remain at the Crowley Police Department, even though we walked in with cameras last year and met with several high-ranking officers, but they didn’t dare arrest us.
But we did get chased out by the city attorney when we attempted to ask his opinion on the signs.
Richard hopes to get those signs removed as part of her suit.
After dismissal of her previous case, Richard was arrested a second time by Crowley police when Officer Skeat Thibodeaux ordered Richard to stop recording his interaction with Richard’s friend Farrell Soileau, Jr.
Richard was recording Officer Thibodeaux in a public space when the officer ordered Richard to move behind a car – effectively placing her out of recording range. When Theresa refused to comply, Thibodeaux arrested her and charged her with “Interfering with a Law Enforcement Investigation” and “Public Intimidation.” Those charges were dropped.
Richard is suing both Crowley officers that unlawfully arrested her, as well as the police chief and the city who employed them. Her lawsuit can be found here.