Despite a new Connecticut law that holds police officers liable for arresting citizens for recording them in public, New Haven police officers did just that last month when they arrested a young man for recording them in public, charging him with interfering.
But the video shows they were the ones interfering with Mykel Armour’s right to record.
However, New Haven police officer K. Malloy (first name likely Kyle) tried to justify the harassment by claiming they had received “a call for loitering.”
But the video also shows there were numerous other citizens in the area – who were not recording – and were not ordered to hand over their identification for suspicion of loitering.
Besides, they did not even charge him with loitering, but with interfering, which is one of those contempt of cop charges police use when they do not want to be recorded.
The truth is, they just wanted to send him a message to think twice about recording cops in public – something they have done regularly over the years, which is why the department was pressured into introducing a general order reminding officers that they are not allowed to arrest citizens for recording in 2011.
The following year, State Senator Martin Looney introduced his bill addressing “excessive use of force” that was turned into a law this past June.
The law addresses many aspects of policing, but the section addressing the right to record states the following:
§ 8 — OFFICERS INTERFERING WITH PHOTOGRAPHY
The bill makes a peace officer’s employer liable in a court or other proceeding if the officer interferes with someone taking a photo or digital still or video image of the officer or another officer performing his or her duties. The employer is not liable if the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that he or she was interfering to:
1. lawfully enforce a state criminal law or municipal ordinance;
2. protect public safety;
3. preserve a crime scene’s or investigation’s integrity;
4. safeguard a person’s privacy interests, including a crime victim’s; or
5. lawfully enforce Judicial Branch court rules and policies on taking photos, video, and recording images in branch facilities.
But cops tend to believe they are above the law and that is evident in this video.
Now a petition has been launched directed at New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman as well as other city officials, demanding that Armour’s charges be dropped.
The petition, which now has 116 signatures, the last being my signature, states the following:
The video speaks for itself. NHPD Officer K. Malloy detains a young Black man videotaping police while fellow officers are detaining a handful of other people on Kensington Street. Malloy makes physical contact with the man, searches him, seizes his property and threatens him with arrest. Malloy or another officer pats him down. As the video ends, an officer appears to be handcuffing him, completing their interference – he could not record in handcuffs.
The criminal charge he now faces is a travesty that police do nothing to disguise. At no point do they indicate they have reason to believe he committed any crime whatsoever when they detain him, a prerequisite for the interaction they claim he interfered with or resisted. (Nor did they charge him with any other crime)
Burying this young man under criminal charges for recording police feeds a trend of overcharging and over-criminalization that is doing nothing to save or help Kensington Street nor does it strengthen the community of New Haven in any way.
This week, the New Haven Police Department embarked on a 90-day pilot program to test out body cams. In July, a New Haven cop named Bobby Jones was arrested after he was caught on video stealing money from a restaurant.