A Washington man is threatening to sue police for posting an embarrassing body cam video of himself getting arrested while drunk and recording an officer.
While it is generally accepted that police have the same right to record and post videos of people who have no expectation of privacy – just as we have the same right to post videos of them – the ACLU is siding with the man in the video, saying his rights were violated.
The American Civil Liberties Union is arguing that Spokane police posted the video on their Facebook page in order to shame Cory Counts as well as to promote Sergeant Eric Kannberg as having the patience of Job.
And they are probably right on both counts, but do they have a legal case?
The video is obviously edited, so police should have also posted the unedited clip for transparency purposes, even if they wanted to post this edited video to get their point across.
According to the Spokane-Review:
The four-minute video from Aug. 1 shows the young man in downtown Spokane arguing with Sgt. Eric Kannberg. The man, identified as Cory Counts in the video’s description, appears belligerent and repeatedly challenges a calm Kannberg to touch him as he stands a few feet from the officer.
Counts appears to be on the phone with someone intermittently throughout the video, though he also appears to believe he’s recording the officer.
“I dare you to touch me,” Counts says in the video. “All of this is being recorded.”
Throughout the video, Kannberg asks Counts to step aside so he can help another man in the background who is on the ground. At about the three-minute mark, Counts slaps Kannberg’s hands, prompting the officer to tell him he’s under arrest. In response, Counts runs across the street and falls. The video cuts to Kannberg arresting Counts a short time later.
“Get on your stomach,” Kannberg says. “Put your arms out to the side. You’re under arrest.”
The description of the video on the SPD’s Facebook page appears to make light of the situation, saying the video should be filed in the #PatienceIsAVirtue file” and that Counts “even used his #PhoneAFriend option.” Many of the comments on Facebook commend the officer’s actions, heralding him for staying calm.
But the ACLU and Counts lawyer argue that police could have blurred Counts face and not identify him.
However, considering that mugshots of suspects are regularly released with name and date-of-birth, even though they have not even been tried yet, it does not appear to be a very strong case against the police department.
Also, Counts also claims to be recording, even though that video has not surfaced.
He claims he was drunk that night that he doesn’t remember a thing, so there is a chance he forgot to even hit the record button on his phone.
But had Sergeant Kanneberg embarrassed himself on video the way cops do daily, he would have had no legal case against Counts for posting the video.
Counts was charged with assault on the officer. Local news station KING5 viewed the video and said Counts “attacked the officer,” but that is hardly the case.
He merely knocked the officer’s hand away, then proceeded to run away before falling down, then getting back up.