In another installment of "Will They Never Learn?" the taxpayers of Salisbury, NC, have had to shell out money to an innocent woman wrongfully arrested for the completely legal act of recording the police in a public place:
The case began in 2009 when Felicia Gibson maintained that Salisbury Police Officer Mark Hunter had no right to come into her house and arrest her as she watched an unrelated traffic stop take place in front of her house.
After two days of testimony Judge Beth Dixon ruled that Gibson was guilty in that she had interfered with Officer Hunter's ability to do his job in dealing with the traffic stop. Gibson had posted a video of the incident on YouTube.
. . .
The incident happened with a traffic stop near 819 W. Fisher St. The traffic stop was the end of a chase in which drugs and gun were found and two suspects ran from police.
At one point, Officer Mark Hunter notices people standing on the porch of Gibson's home, including Felicia Gibson, her father, and a neighbor, and orders them inside.
Hunter then arrested Gibson, charging her with resisting arrest and obstructing an officer.
In court during the original trial, Gibson's lawyer argued that only 10 seconds elapsed from Hunter's command for her to get in the house, and for him to cross the 40 feet from the street and arrest her.
The attorney said her constitutional rights were violated and that Gibson has a right to stand on her own front porch and watch police officers doing their jobs.
Agreed. The settlement is a little small, but nevertheless it proves the point that arresting people for filming police in a public place is not a good idea for the police.
I have only one gripe, though: I think any settlement should include mandatory re-training of the officers with required reading of A Due Process Right To Record the Police followed by a test on the subject.
Acknowledgments to Carlos Miller of Photography Is Not A Crime for alerting me to this.
If you have an iPhone, my iPhone app will allow you to record the police and send it to me before the police have a chance to snatch your phone and delete it. Check it out.
For Georgia cases, see Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000).
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