A Florida jury has acquitted photographer Carlos Miller of charges that he resisted arrest while covering police action at an Occupy encampment in Miami last January. Police alleged that Miller had refused orders to clear the area, but another journalist provided evidence to support Miller’s claim that he was singled out among several journalists for arrest.
Miller, who is the voice behind the Photography Is Not a Crime blog, has been a tireless critic of police harassment of journalists. He learned after his arrest last January that police had circulated his Facebook photo internally–including to the officer who arrested him–and that police considered him a troublemaker.
According to Miller, police had finished clearing the Occupy Miami encampment and had broken ranks when Miami-Dade police officer Nancy Perez recognized him. Perez ordered other officers to arrest Miller, allegedly for refusing a police order to disperse.
Miller managed to capture a video and audio recording of his arrest. Police erased the video file, but Miller managed to recover it with computer file recovery software. He intended to use the recording of his arrest to win acquittal.
But the case turned on the testimony of a Miami Herald columnist, according to Miller’s own account of the trial, and a report of the trial in the Miami New Times. The Herald columnist, Glenn Garvin, testified in court that Miller was on the scene as a journalist, not a protester, and that he (Garvin) never heard police order journalists to clear the area.
Garvin was standing near Miller when the arrest took place, and Garvin became worried that he would be arrested, too. But the officer who ordered Miller’s arrest assured Garvin that he was under no threat of arrest.
“That proved that police had not established a clear perimeter, contrary to what they had been arguing, claiming that I had deliberately walked into that perimeter after being told I was not supposed to be there,” Miller explained on his blog.
It was Miller’s third arrest while photographing in public. The first time, he was convicted of resisting arrest, but managed to get that conviction overturned on appeal. The second time, the charges against him were dropped because the arresting office did not show up at his court hearing to testify.