A New York City Copwatch activist is suing the NYPD for $1 Million in two separate lawsuits stemming from two arrests for recording them in public where they ended up deleting his footage.
Lasalle launched a YouTube channel called Copwatch Patrol Unit in 2012, a year after his stepson, Alvin, made national news by exposing NYPD’s unconstitutional stop and frisk practices. And since then, he has been making his own news, both locally and nationally.
“That was my inspiration to start Copwatch Patrol Unit,” he said in an online interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
Since then, he has become a thorn in the side of the New York City Police Department, which led them to retaliate against him by abusing and arresting him.
Let’s start with the last arrest.
It all unfolded in September 2015 when LaSalle recorded officers arresting two men in the Bronx. One of the men was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital for medical attention. Acting within his rights, LaSalle went to the hospital also to continue his coverage.
It was then that hospital security became irate that LaSalle was video recording, resulting in security physically pouncing on him. They kicked LaSalle and twisted his arm, all while pushing him against the wall as NYPD stood by watching.
A day later, NYPD officers stopped LaSalle on the street to arrest him for the aforementioned encounter. Officers knew LaSalle and were familiar with his tendency to record police encounters.
LaSalle was charged with misdemeanor assault, menacing, trespass, and harassment. In addition to the unlawful arrest, officers seized his camera and deleted the hospital footage.
The suit claims that officers called LaSalle a “piece of shit” and taunted him by asking, “how does it feel to be on the other side of the law?”.
The district attorney’s office dismissed all the charges against LaSalle, which increases his chances of winning his civil suit.
Now for the second arrest, which we wrote about here, where they threw him up against a fence, cuffed him and strip-searched him in jail – before citing him for jaywalking.
In September 2013, as LaSalle was recording police officers, one cop shone a flashlight in his face, which prompted him to walk up to that cop and two others to ask for their name and badge numbers.
Instead, they attacked and arrested him.
“We got you motherfucker, now you’re going to jail for assaulting an officer,” one of the cops told him.
He was placed in a cell for four hours before he was released with the citation for jaywalking and possession of a police scanner, which happens to be a crime in New York City.
They held on to his phone for months before returning it. And when they did, he discovered they had reset it to default settings, wiping out all his footage in the process.
Next week, he is scheduled to enter negotiations with the city regarding a settlement for that arrest, but if those fail, depositions are scheduled for June.
“Police should be held accountable when they interfere with cop watchers or videographers that are documenting their interactions with civilians in a legal manner,” he said.