PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Police in Philadelphia have recently shown a pattern of wrongfully arresting people who videotaped officers in public, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union was drawn up on behalf of a college student who was charged with disorderly conduct for using his cellphone to record police during a large altercation. His cellphone was later confiscated and the video erased, the lawsuit said.
The complaint is the first of several that the Pennsylvania ACLU chapter plans to file alleging retaliatory behavior by officers, attorney Mary Catherine Roper said. It seeks monetary damages as well as confirmation of the public's right to videotape police, she said.
"It is not and, under our Constitution, could not be a crime," the lawsuit states.
A police spokeswoman declined to comment on pending litigation.
The complaint filed Wednesday involves Temple University photojournalism student Chris Montgomery, 24. Two years ago, he and a friend were downtown when they observed a dispute involving a group of teens.
Eventually, police responded and began arresting the youths, and Montgomery used his iPhone to document the action — which included an officer calling one teen a derogatory name, the lawsuit said.
Police later approached Montgomery, told him to stop recording, took the phone, arrested him and detained him in a cell for about 45 minutes, the lawsuit said.