Keith “Bama Camera” Golden filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Alabama cop who snatched his camera from his hands as he recorded a police station from public, telling him, “I don’t care about your First Amendment rights.”
The suit accuses Wetumpka police officer Charles Shannon and Police Chief Danny Billingsly of violating Golden’s Constitutional rights by detaining him for taking photos, then retaliating against him when his supporters call flooded the police department.
The suit claims Billingsly rerouted these non-emergency calls through the county’s 911 system, allowing him to retaliate by maliciously obtaining a warrant for Golden’s arrest, accusing him of disrupting emergency services.
The suit states that Golden was in jail on a $15,000 bail when Billingsly pressed a judge for a search warrant for Golden’s electronics.
Billingsly had claimed Golden had worked with PINAC correspondent David Warden to flood the department and city with phone calls. Those claims proved to lack merit when prosecutors dropped the charges against Golden.
As AL.com points out, it was not Golden that prompted the call floods. It was Photography is Not a Crime.
Wetumpka police claim Golden asked his followers “to begin mass communications” against the department.
“This sparks computer generated calling to the parties filmed in the videos, social media attacks on the municipalities involved, family members of officers and civilians, emails to the local governments and threats to the officer’s lives,” the city of Wetumpka stated in a June press release.
Wetumpka police say the large volume of calls jammed the department’s phone system blocking their “ability to notify ambulance and fire service of emergency calls.”
This, in turn, caused “chaos” which crippled the police department’s phone system for days, and forced the department to take down its Facebook page.
According to the ACLU, Golden didn’t urge anyone to call the police department.
The group Photography is not a Crime did publish an article about Golden’s arrest and provided the phone number to the Wetumpka Police Department and a link to the department’s Facebook page.
Wetumpka Police also accused PINAC reporter Felipe Hemming of improperly calling 911 when he only called their non-emergency number to obtain information.
The scorn from the internet felt by the department after the initial encounter with Golden further escalated after Golden was arrested at his home.
Much of the encounter with Shannon would have been forgotten except for the “I don’t care about your First Amendment rights” comment that made him internet famous.
The suit claims malicious prosecution, prior restraint, and First Amendment violations caused by Shannon and Billingsly actions.
Golden’s lawyer Dothan Iaw filed the suit in conjunction with the Alabama ACLU, asking for an unspecified amount in damages. The suit leaves damages and attorney costs to be decided by a jury.