Rights

Woman charged with wiretapping for filming cops wins $57,000 payout

A local New Hampshire police department agreed Thursday to pay a woman who was arrested and charged with wiretapping $57,000 to settle her civil rights lawsuit. The deal comes a week after a federal appeals court ruled that the public has a First Amendment right to film cops.

The plaintiff in the case, Carla Gericke, was arrested on wiretapping allegations in 2010 for filming her friend being pulled over by the Weare Police Department during a late-night traffic stop. Although Gericke was never brought to trial, she sued, alleging that her arrest constituted retaliatory prosecution in breach of her constitutional rights. The department, without admitting wrongdoing, settled Thursday in a move that the woman’s attorney speculated would deter future police retaliation.

Unfortunately, sometimes, the only thing that changes entrenched behaviors is if it becomes too costly to continue those behaviours, attorney Seth Hipple said. This settlement helps to make it clear that government agencies that choose to retaliate against videographers will pay for their retaliation in dollars and cents. We are confident that this settlement will help to make arrests of videographers a thing of the past.

The First US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) in Gericke’s case last week that she was exercising a clearly established First Amendment right when she attempted to film the traffic stop in the absence of a police order to stop filming or leave the area — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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