Veteran news photographer Mannie Garcia has sued several Montgomery County, Maryland police officers, alleging violation of his civil rights and physical and emotional suffering as a result of being “manhandled” and arrested without cause in June, 2011. Garcia is seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages to be determined.
Garcia, who lost his White House Press Pass as a result of his arrest, was confronted by the police officers after he began recording them arresting two Hispanic men on the night of June 16, 2011. The incident occurred in Wheaton, Maryland after Garcia left a restaurant and happened to see police arresting the men.
According to his claim, Garcia became concerned that the police action “might be inappropriate and/or that they might be using excessive force.” Garcia took his camera out and began recording. He was then approached by one of the officers, and identified himself as a member of the press.
Garcia said nothing else, however, but moved further back when a second officer shined a flashlight in his face.
According to Garcia’s lawsuit, the first officer “did not like the fact that Mr. Garcia continued to record their actions with the camera, so he lost his temper, became enraged, screamed, ‘That’s it!’ and placed Mr. Garcia under arrest.”
Garcia alleges that the first officer placed him in a choke hold, dragged him across the street to a police cruiser, and “repeatedly threw Mr. Garcia to the ground” before handcuffing him. He alleges that he sustained injuries to his neck, shoulder and back “while being manhandled” during his arrest.
According to police reports, Garcia was arrested for disorderly conduct. His camera was confiscated at the scene, and Garcia was taken to a police station, where he alleges that he saw one of the officers remove the battery and memory card from his camera. The camera was eventually returned without the memory card.
While he was awaiting trial, the Secret Service became aware of the charges against him and revoked his White House Press Pass. He was unable to work as a result, he says in his lawsuit.
Finally, Garcia came before a judge in a bench trial last December and was found not guilty on all charges against him.
Garcia is suing on the grounds that the Montgomery Count police officers violated his First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The violations included unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, cruel and unusual punishment, malicious prosecution, deprivation of his property without due process, and interference with his right of free speech.
In addition to naming the arresting officers as defendants, Garcia is also suing Montgomery County and its chief of police for failing to properly train police officers–specifically, for failing to train them that openly recording a police officer is a lawful act in Maryland.
Garcia also alleges that the county is indifferent to police misconduct, and that it fails to investigate complaints of misconduct or discipline officers who engage in misconduct. (Garcia says his complaints to the police about misconduct of the officers were ignored.)
Garcia filed his claim in the US District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division. (Case 8:12-cv-01711-DKC)
A trial date has not been set.
Police Intimidation Watch: Photog Sues a Long Island Police Department
Police Intimidation Watch: Photographers Cleared of Charges in New York, Seattle
Department of Justice Warns Police Against Violating Photographers’ Rights
©Dotan Saguy A former tech entrepreneur now pursuing photography as a second career, Dotan Saguy has gained notice for his project about the vitality, energy and spectacle of Venice Beach. National Geographic, ABC News, and others have published the work online, and Saguy, 46, has been invited to attend both the Missouri Photo Workshop and... More ›
Mary F. Calvert, Kirsten Luce, Katie Orlinsky, Sergey Ponomarev and Jonathan Torgovnik have each won a $10,000 grant from Getty Images through its annual Grants for Editorial Photography program. The program aims to “showcase and support powerful and inspiring photojournalism projects,” says Getty Images, which announced the winners today. Ponomarev, based in Moscow, was recognized for his... More ›
Wilbur “Bill” Garrett, who methodically raised the standards for photography at National Geographic and pushed for coverage of timely and sometimes controversial subjects during his tenure as editor in the 1980s, died at his home on August 13, National Geographic has reported. He was 85. Garrett began pushing for a more photojournalistic approach to Geographic... More ›