A jaywalking charge against a New York photojournalist was dismissed Tuesday, paving the way for him to file a civil lawsuit against the Troy Police Department for unlawfully arresting him in October.
Jeff Couch, who has spent 20 years working for the Troy Record newspaper, was attempting to photograph a house of a man who had been killed by police the day before.
Several police officers were inside searching it, looking for clues as to what made Chad Brothers turn violent in a local gym.
Troy Patrolman Jason Valente was sitting inside a cop car that was parked in front of the house. When Valente saw Couch lift his camera to face, he decided he didn’t want to be in the photo.
Rather than turn his head or just move out the way, he ordered Couch not to take the photo. When Couch insisted on taking the photo, he was arrested.
According to The Saratogian:
The house, located near the intersection of Pawling Avenue and Congress Street, had police cars in front since authorities were still conducting an investigation into Brothers’ untimely death. Couch was aiming his camera to take a shot and then heard Valente’s voice come from inside a Troy Police Department vehicle. The voice belonged to Valente who said not to take any photos of him.
Couch initially thought he was just joking around but then Valente stepped out of the vehicle and reiterated that he did not want to be in any photos and said to wait until the police were done at the scene to take any photos. Couch replied, explaining that he had to get the photo for his job before it got dark and said that the officer could move. He also pointed out that the officer likely would not be seen in the photo if he were inside the police vehicle.
When it became obvious to Valente that Couch was going to take the photos, he told Couch that he was being arrested for jaywalking and handcuffed Couch’s hands behind his back with his camera still dangling from the bonds.
Couch, a longtime Cohoes resident, then told Valente that there was about $3,000 worth of photography equipment in his car that was not locked up, since he had not planned to be away from his car for very long. Valente did not let Couch go back to his car to lock his doors. When driven back to his car, Couch said his equipment, luckily, was still there.