The city of Colorado Springs had to dish out a $41,000 settlement because of the illegal actions of 2 police officers when they confronted a man who was filming from a public sidewalk outside a police substation.
Terrell Clayton was taking pictures of police vehicles entering and exiting the parking lot at the Falcon substation on Nov. 2 as part of the First Amendment Audits movement to see how police and other public officials respond to the completely legal presence of a cameraman, reported The Colorado Springs Gazette.
Two cops decided Clayton’s behavior was suspicious and asked him for identification, which he chose not to immediately provide. The police then lied to him about laws, but fortunately for Clayton, he was aware of the actual laws the officers were misinterpreting.
His video of the encounter went viral his Youtube Channel News Now Colorado.
The video shows Clayton being detained, put in the back of a police car, and his camera and cell phone being taken away for safety reasons. The cell phone apparently made the officers feel unsafe. He was also cited for disorderly conduct.
The next day, Clayton filed a complaint against the officers for wrongful detainment.
It took about 6 months, but the city settled his claim for $41,000 and an addition to police General Orders that “taking photographs or recording from a public place in and of itself does not constitute suspicious activity.”
According to the settlement, the city also has to create and publish a “roll-call video addressing the First Amendment right to record police activity.” All officers will be required to view the video by the end of the year.
Describing the video and officers’ actions, Clayton said, “I was very shocked at how quickly these officers violated my rights.”
Clayton is pleased with the settlement, specifically pointing to the fact that officers will have to improve their treatment of citizens and actually protect peoples’ rights.
Police spokesman Lt. Howard Black said the internal affairs investigation to determine whether the officers will be disciplined is coming to a conclusion.
Watch video of the incident below: