A New Haven man jailed for recording New Haven, Connecticut police arresting three people filed a $500,000 lawsuit suit yesterday against the city and several individual officers for violation of his civil rights.

Luis Luna, a medical interpreter, was jailed in September, 2010 after he came upon police making the arrests, and began recording the incident with his iPhone. At the scene was Assistant Chief Ariel Melendez, who approached Luna, snatched his phone away, and ordered him arrested, according to a report in the New Haven Independent.

Luna’s iPhone was returned when he was released from jail four hours later, but his videos had been erased.

In his court appearance two weeks later, Luna contested the charges of interfering with a police officer. Prosecutors agreed to drop that charge on condition that Luna plead guilty to a charge of “creating a public disturbance,” and pay a $50 fine. Without legal representation to fight the more serious charge, Luna agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge and pay the fine.

Police internal affairs investigators later issued a report charging the assistant chief who ordered Luna’s arrest and the erasure of the video with “conduct unbecoming an officer.” The investigators said that Luna had acted legally, and that the assistant chief had violated his rights, according to the New Haven Independent.

As a result of the internal affairs report, Luna was able to get his guilty plea for “creating a public disturbance” reversed. Assistant Chief Melendez has since retired, and the New Haven police department also issued a new policy to prevent officers from interfering with the rights of citizen journalists.

In his lawsuit, Luna charged Melendez and the City of New Haven with false arrest, violation of his First Amendment rights, and illegal seizure in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights. He is seeking $500,000 in damages and a declaration from the court that it is illegal for the police to arrest anyone for filming them while carrying out their duties in public.

Related:
Department of Justice Warns Police Against Violating Photographers’ Rights
Police Intimidation Watch: Cop Charged with Lying About a Photographer’s Arrest
Police Intimidation Watch: Detroit Police Apologize After Video Shows Them Violating Photographer’s Rights


COMMENTS

MORE POSTS

Unsplash CEO Tries to Justify Copyright Grab

Posted by on Friday August 11, 2017 | Business, Copyright/Legal

The co-founder and CEO of Unsplash, the photo-sharing platform that asks contributing photographers to grant free licenses to their images, attempted to justify the company’s terms of use in a blog post written last week. The post follows outrage by professional photographers, who blasted the company on social media. Unsplash’s terms are terrible for photographers,... More

Photog Bill Frakes Leaves U of Nebraska Following Sexual Harassment Charges

Posted by on Wednesday August 9, 2017 | Copyright/Legal

Bill Frakes, the award-winning Sports Illustrated photographer, will not return to his position as adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications, after university administrators concluded he violated its policy prohibiting sexual harassment and “created a hostile environment” for a female student. University spokesperson Steve Smith told PDN last week,... More

PETA Giving Up on Monkey Selfie Copyright Claim?

Posted by on Monday August 7, 2017 | Copyright/Legal

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and photographer David Slater have told a federal court in San Francisco that they are on the verge of settling PETA’s copyright infringement claim over the infamous monkey selfie. The two parties, along with Blurb, Inc., a co-defendant with Slater, have asked the US Court of Appeals... More