Police in the US are being sued after they allegedly accidentally recorded themselves fabricating charges against a protestor who they subsequently arrested.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut has opened a lawsuit against the state police and has published a video recording of the incident in which police are apparently heard coming up with charges against the man.
Michael Picard was protesting police check points for drink drivers by standing on a traffic island with a sign that read: “cops ahead, remain silent”.
After an hour and a half, it is alleged the police officers from the check point came over and hit his SLR camera out of his hand.
The video then begins and the policeman confiscates the camera and walks away, apparently putting it on the roof of the car while three officers debate what to charge Mr Picard with.
In the film, voices can be heard making a call to colleagues to see if they have “any grudges” against Mr Picard.
One officer says: “We gotta cover our ass”.
“We can hit him with reckless use of the highway by a pedestrian and creating a public disturbance,” another suggests.
One suggests a combination of “simple trespass, we do reckless use of the highway and creating a public disturbance”, adding, “we’ll throw all charges three on the ticket”.
“And then we claim that, in backup, we had multiple people, they didn’t want to stay and give us a statement so we took our own course of action,” another adds.
The charges against Mr Picard were eventually dismissed by the state during a criminal prosecution in the Connecticut superior court.
The process took over a year and Mr Picard is now suing the police for allegedly fabricating the charges.
In a statement, ACLU-CT legal director Dan Barrett, who is representing Mr Picard in the lawsuit said: “Police should be focused on public safety, not punishing protesters and those who film public employees working on a public street.
“As the video shows, these police officers were more concerned with thwarting Mr Picard’s free speech and covering their tracks than upholding the law.”
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