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$125,000 Settlement Given To Man Arrested for Photographing NYPD 231

Posted by Soulskill
from the cheaper-than-a-trial dept.
mpicpp sends word of a $125,000 settlement for a man who was arrested for photographing members of the New York Police Department. On June 14th, 2012, the man was sitting in his car when he saw three African-American youths being stopped and frisked by police officers. He began taking pictures of the encounter, and after the police were done, he advised the youths to get the officers' badge numbers next time. When the officers heard him, they pulled him violently from his car and arrested him under a charge of disorderly conduct. The police allegedly deleted the pictures from his phone (PDF). Rather than go to trial, the city's lawyers decided a settlement was the best course of action.
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$125,000 Settlement Given To Man Arrested for Photographing NYPD

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  • idgi (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:45PM (#47708023)

    I get the civil settlement, but did the police not also commit a crime?

    • Re:idgi (Score:5, Funny)

      by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:00PM (#47708123) Homepage Journal

      Some crimes don't get prosecuted if the victim refuses to press charges. This may be because the victim can forgive it, or because without his testimony there would be no case.

      On the other hand: Hey everyone, did you know that photographing police officers can be worth over a hundred grand? Everyone could use an extra $125,000, photograph your local policemen today!

      • Re: idgi (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Think of how messed up this is for a minute. The police deleted the pictures from his phone. They tampered with evidence by gaining unauthorized access to his phone. The power we allow law enforcement nowadays, we are all at the mercy of moody people with guns who can peer into and modify your personal belongings. Oh also the law is not on your side on this, I'm glad the dude decided to "forgive" them.

      • Some crimes don't get prosecuted if the victim refuses to press charges. This may be because the victim can forgive it, or because without his testimony there would be no case.!

        A victim cannot press charges, only the prosecutor can press charges. In most areas the prosecutor goes to bar-be-ques with the cops on weekends. Guess how likely he is to press charges against his drinking buddies.

        • by u38cg (607297)
          Well, it depends on the jurisdiction. In the UK, the Queen presses charges, via the Crown Prosecution Service. In other places, the individual raises the initial charge, which is then prosecuted by the state.
        • There ought to be a law where any citizen can force a prosecutor to prosecute people that are suspect of committing a crime. Any prosecutor that gets too much cases where this law has to be effected should be subject of a research into his true loyalty. I wonder what party would dare to come up with a federal law to make this happen....
          • And what happens when there is no reasonable probability of conviction? When all there is is suspicion but no evidence? That is why prosecutors have leeway in prosecuting, otherwise we have significant sums of public money wasted on pointless cases.

          • by dcw3 (649211)

            You'd need to have a much larger court system to handle the load. There would likely be thousands of new cases in Missouri right now.

        • by sFurbo (1361249)
          Even if they don't, the prosecutors depend on the police to help them with their cases. Pressing charges against the police could make evidence in unrelated cases harder to come by, hurting the other cases and the career of the prosecutor.
          • Even if they don't, the prosecutors depend on the police to help them with their cases. Pressing charges against the police could make evidence in unrelated cases harder to come by, hurting the other cases and the career of the prosecutor.

            What we need are special prosecutors recruited from civil rights organizations who aren't in bed with law enforcement and Internal Affairs officers recruited entirely from military police who have never served in civilian law enforcement to do the investigation and arrests. There isn't much chance of that happening though.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Don't you have private prosecutions in the US? Sure, they cost money, but in cases like this there are usually plenty of interested parties willing to chip in.

          • by cayenne8 (626475)

            Don't you have private prosecutions in the US? Sure, they cost money, but in cases like this there are usually plenty of interested parties willing to chip in.

            No...never heard of such a thing??

            Charges here are brought by the government against criminals.

            In civil suits, it is private I guess, people suing each other, but not in criminal matters.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        He was probably given two choices:

        Option a: Receive $125000 today, go home, spend it.

        Option b: Press charges, spend a fortune on lawyers for several years while they keep appealing (all on the taxpayer's dollar), maybe win, maybe receive some money.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tanstaaf1 (770797)
      Selective enforcement of laws is essential for our Masters to retain power. They need to have something to barter for compliance with tyranny.
  • precedent (Score:5, Informative)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:45PM (#47708025) Journal

    Right, because trial can set precedent and the city *really* doesn't want that.

    • Re:precedent (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:53PM (#47708061)

      what's missing from the summary is that the cops involved are being sued in six other federal cases... this was not a single case.

      These particular cops are used to f.ck you left,right and center and they don't care about your rights.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:58PM (#47708109)

        ... and they don't care about your rights.

        My what?

        • Re:precedent (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:18PM (#47708267)

          Rights: You know... your right to remain silent (unless told to "start talking", or forced to talk with torture), your right to attorney (after they get done with you), your right for a fair trial (unless charged with the espionage act, thrown into gitmo, or blown up by drone strike), etc. You have plenty of rights*. You live in the land of the free and home of the brave!

          *some exceptions apply. Void where prohibited by law (aka constitutional free zones) or where simply inconvenient (e.g. NSA, TSA, etc).

          • by Type44Q (1233630)

            unless charged with the espionage act, thrown into gitmo, or blown up by drone strike

            You left out the [currently] most relevant:

            unless charged and convicted by the media

        • ... and they don't care about your rights.

          My what?

          Yes, it's dated. And yes, it's a British band. But yes, it's relevant [youtube.com].

    • Re:precedent (Score:5, Informative)

      by Frobnicator (565869) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @09:18PM (#47708653) Journal

      Right, because trial can set precedent and the city *really* doesn't want that.

      Precedent is only part of the story.

      A settlement comes with the clause that they do not admit to any guilt. If the courts get involved, and a guilty verdict comes down, it also comes down with the "under color of law" modifier. That comes with a year in prison at the lowest tier. If there was bodily injury if weapons were used or threat of weapons was used, it jumps to a ten year prison term. The third tier, which triggers if the acts result in death, threat of death, or if they include kidnapping (which false arrests can qualify under), attempt to kidnap, sexual abuse or its attempt, the punishment can grow to life in prison.

      It doesn't matter what their original violation was, those are additional bonus punishments of up to a year, a decade, or life in jail.

      They will fight in the courts right up until the court decides they are no longer immune. The moment the immunity is broken they will do anything to take a non-guilt settlement.

      LEOs (both as individuals and as departments) will do all they can to avoid an actual guilty verdict when their own acts are done under color of law. They will try to get any other deal or settlement they can rather then spend time in the prisons they helped create.

      • So guilt does not apply. It is to determine responsibility, not guilt. There is a major legal difference, and trials proceed differently. Hence you can have OJ Simpson found innocent of a murder, but civilly responsible for causing wrongful death of the same individual.

    • Re:precedent (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:32PM (#47709075)

      There's already binding precedent in the Circuit that covers NYS.

      Tunick v. Safir, 228 F.3d 135, 137 (2d Cir. 2000)
      loom v. Levy, 159 F.3d 1345 (2d Cir. 1998).

      I'm not sure what another case would prove -- the appellate courts are loath to repeat themselves.

  • by bouldin (828821) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:49PM (#47708039)

    Answer:
    When either one does viciously illegal shit, they get away without punishment, and somebody else pays the fine!

    • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @09:58PM (#47708889) Journal

      From TFA:

      “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,” Lt. Dennis Ferber said, according to the suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

      It appears the police followed exactly your logic. However if that statement is substantiated, Ferber's boss would be seriously derelict in their duty if they didn't fire him for this. He's publicly stated that he doesn't care about knowingly causing a multi-million dollar liability for his employer. IANAL, but I expect that should these cops not get punished and pull a similar stunt again, the city would open themselves up for greater punitive damages, as they'd let employees with a known track record of rights abuse continue working where they were likely to abuse again.

      It would be good to see criminal proceedings, but I doubt it will happen.

      • by Lord Kano (13027)

        Ferber's boss would be seriously derelict in their duty if they didn't fire him for this.

        Two words.
        Police Union.

        There is almost no accountability for law enforcement. That's a part of what draws sociopaths into that field of work.

        LK

    • by JonathanR (852748)

      And that's the way it should be. Some day the Stockholm Syndrome sufferers will say enough is enough; but while they remain sycophants to the political and praetorian classes; fuck 'em. Make them pay.

  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:56PM (#47708091) Homepage
    Always lock your phone and set media to sync to the cloud (if you can afford the data...). It would have been really interesting to hear what the cops told the judge when they sought a warrant to unlock it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:10PM (#47708211)

      >"It would have been really interesting to hear what the cops told the judge when they sought a warrant to unlock it."

      The same thing they tell every judge. "See you on the golf course this Sunday!"

    • by Dwedit (232252)

      Probably the $5 wrench solution to unlock the phone.

    • "The guy dropped it on the ground by accident, we didn't break it."
      • "The guy dropped it on the ground by accident, we didn't break it."

        Thus, the cloud advice. By the time they got to the phone, audio and video is on the way up.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      you mean interesting to hear the cops banter while they pistol whipped the guy until he gave them the password? Hell, here in Chicago the cops beat people for jollies even if they don't need anything.

    • by silfen (3720385)

      There are some apps for Android and iOS that record quietly and in the background and upload to the cloud. They're useful to have on your phone for many reasons.

  • by mtthwbrnd (1608651) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:20PM (#47708301)

    1. They should have refused to comply with the search on the grounds of unconstitutionality.

    If the police insisted then they would be forced to make an arrest. Then the three should insist on using the legal representation, the representative will ask why they are under suspicion and force the police to obtain a proper warrant etc...

    In reality though, as soon as they refuse to submit to the unconstitutional search, the police will either walk away or be forced to commit a serious infringement, which can be dealt with later.

    2. They did not start recording the police themselves as soon as the police approached them. That way they have on record their refusal to agree to a warrantless search which renders any search before arrest unconstitutional, and if they make an arrest then they need to have a good reason - which the story implies they did not.

    When you start recording you should say to your friend, or the officers if you are alone, "this is being uploaded automatically to my blog, so don't worry if they try to delete the video". If you are smart then your friend will reply "did you press the live upload button" and you will check and say "yeah, it is uploading now" - or something like that. That will put the pressure on the officers to behave themselves.

    If you can afford it, then actually do set yourself up to upload the feed automatically, but the threat alone is likely to be enough.

    Always remain calm and speak politely. Be nice. Be friendly. Do not use hostile body language. Do not scowl. You cannot scare the police, they are not old women walking down a dark alley. I know that blacks think that they can scare anybody with a dirty look, but honestly, the police LOVE IT when somebody becomes aggressive - because it will give them grounds for arrest. They are trained to deal with your aggression and you play into their hands when you become aggressive. THEY WANT YOU TO BECOME AGGRESSIVE SO THAT THEY CAN ARREST YOU, SO DONT DO IT!

    • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:35PM (#47708399)
      I take it you've never been Black, right?

      And you've also never heard of 'Stop and Frisk'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]
    • You had me agreeing with you right until the "I know that blacks..." line. Yes, there are some people who think they can scare anyone with a dirty look. There are people like that who happen to be African-American and who happen to be Caucasian. The color of your skin doesn't make you give people dirty looks and act aggressive. (Socio-economic status is more at play than race alone.)

      I will agree with the "don't be hostile" advice, though. This doesn't mean that you have to roll over and do whatever the

    • I know that blacks...

      This remark betrays a deeply held racism that you really need to take a good hard (non-agressive) look at. Seriously.
      No, you do not 'know' anything about 'blacks' (whatever that term might actually mean? Africans? Ghanians? Nigerians? African-Americans? People who like wearing a lot of black?). You hold prejudices about people who are not white.

  • I'm going to go WAAAAY out on a limb here and speculate that these bullying asshole police officers weren't tech-savvy enough to know how to permanently delete stuff from a cell phone. Most likely, a simple FAT file system undeletion utility could have brought back all those pictures, or at least most of them. Does anyone know if the victim here did anything to try to get those photos undeleted?

  • 1) the story had named the officers. As it is, one has to go to the PDF of the complaint to find the names of the cops. 2) the story said whether any of them were disciplined in any way over this incident, 3) they were prosecuted for it, but at a minimum their pay should be docked for the cost of the settlement.
  • no prison? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    America will not have faith in big government until cops who do things like this, lose their jobs because of unexcused absenses due to their felony prison sentences. Who is preventing these prosecutions? Are Repubs giving extra criminal powers to police, in order to increase scepticism of govt?

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      You are confused, this has nothing to do with "big government". People have no faith in the federal government for other reason, namely being power and money grubbing megacorporate bitches.

  • Over 1000 times $125,000 is over $1 Billion.
    Fiscal penalties can work ....
    They're ruined.
    Civil rights violations are a federal crime.
  • Once again!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rigel47 (2991727) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:19PM (#47708993)
    The taxpayer is on the hook for CRIMES committed by cops.

    From Gen. Alexander's willful and wanton (and unpersecuted) perjury on down to cops killing and chilling there is NO accountability in this country if you're on of "the good guys."
  • by crioca (1394491) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:20PM (#47709009)
    Combine this with the fact that police are much more likely to arrest black people and I think we just found a way to address the systemic poverty of black Americans...
  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @11:20PM (#47709315)

    1. Nationally require body cameras always rolling while on-duty. Knowing you won't get away with unprofessional behavior = priceless.

    2. Total national outlaw of plea deals because coercion is morally indefensible. This is supposed to be the "land of the free" not North Korea.

    3. Total ban on performance/incentive structures having effect of perverting justice. This includes linkages between career status/advancement and prosecution rates and officer ticketing/arrest quotas.

    4. Total ban on mandatory minimum sentencing.

  • advising people of their rights is totally disorderly conduct.

  • Police should be able to do whatever they damn well please, with no accountability. Right?

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