The New York Police Department has awarded a $125,000 settlement to a man who filed a civil rights lawsuit against the department, following a 2012 incident in which he was allegedly arrested and strip searched for filming police officers on duty.
Brooklyn resident Dick George agreed to the settlement, only a few days after the department took new measures to refresh officers’ memories about the public’s right to document their activities.
In June of 2012, George allegedly began taking cell phone pictures after observing NYPD officers conduct a controversial, warrantless stop-and-frisk search of three young men in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. He allegedly told the subjects of the search to get the officers’ badge numbers, which led to a face-to-face encounter in which one of the cops reportedly said this:
Now we’re going to give you what you deserve for meddling in our business and when we finish with you, you can sue the city for $5 million and get rich, we don’t care.
After being charged with disorderly conduct, George was released that same day. But the lawsuit alleged that, “prior to releasing Plaintiff [George] from the defendant’s [NYPD] custody, the defendant officers purposely deleted all photographic, audio and video recordings from Plaintiff’s cellular telephone in order to destroy and cover up evidence of their unlawful activities depicted therein.”
According to The New York Daily News, the NYPD circulated a department-wide memo last month “reminding the entire force of the public’s right to record their activities on the street.” That memo came in the wake of a highly-publicized video depicting NYPD officers subduing an asthmatic Staten Island man, whose subsequent death a medical examiner attributed to neck compression from a police chokehold, as well as to chest compression from being restrained on the ground.