The Connecticut ACLU [official website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday against three officers on behalf of a DUI-checkpoint protester, Michael Picard. Video footage was soon after released showing the officers discussing bringing false charges against Picard. Picard had been approached by the officers during one of his protests. The officer noticed Picard had a pistol in his hip holster and checked to see if he had a valid pistol permit. The video shows Picard’s camera being taken by one of the officers, who instructed him “it’s illegal to take my picture.” The camera continued to record audio while the officers then deliberated on what charges they would levee against Picard, eventually settling on use of a highway by a pedestrian and creating a public disturbance for having his pistol in plain view of passing vehicles. Picard’s charges were recently dropped. The complaint alleges violations of both Picard’s First Amendment right of free speech and Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizure. The Connecticut State Police Union said that they believed the lawsuit is “frivolous and will ultimately be dismissed” on Friday.
Citizen rights and police authority, including stop and frisk procedures, continue to be an issue throughout the US. Last September, a Ferguson reform panel released a report [JURIST report] calling for the consolidation of police departments and municipal courts. Just a month prior, the Chicago Police Department decided [JURIST report] to allow independent evaluations of their stop and frisk procedures that many have said specifically target African Americans under an agreement with the ACLU. In August 2014, New York City formally dropped [JURIST report] the city’s appeal of rulings in lawsuits involving the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) use of stop-and-frisk tactics. Mayor Bill De Blasio’s administration agreed to end the lawsuit against the NYPD after reaching a settlement requiring three years of NYPD oversight by a court-appointed monitor.