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Settlement of federal case requires Indianapolis police to revise procedure

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As part of a settlement to a federal civil rights case, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will be instituting a new policy prohibiting police officers from interfering with civilians who are recording their actions.

The policy change was included in a settlement agreement with Indianapolis resident Willie King who was arrested in February 2011 after he used his cellphone to videotape police officers arresting another man. King was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

Following a bench trial that found him not guilty, King filed a federal civil rights case against the city of Indianapolis and the police officers involved in the incident. The lawsuit, Willie E. King v. The City of Indianapolis, Jonathan M. Lawlis, Robert K. McCauley, Brad Alford, Michael B. Wright and David Miller, 1:11-cv-01727, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.

King claimed the city and the officers violated his First, Fourth and 14th amendment rights. In addition, he asserted the IMPD used excessive force against him and that he was a victim of false arrest and malicious prosecution.
 
The settlement was reached within weeks of King’s March 10, 2014, trial date. Along with requiring the city to implement a new policy, the settlement also awarded King $200,000 in damages.

“Willie King was wronged when the officers stopped his videotaping and took away his cellphone,” said King’s attorney Richard Waples. “We want to make sure that in the future police officers understand that people have the right to video record their actions.”

Within two months of signing the settlement agreement, the city’s police chief must issue a legal bulletin that explains officers should not interfere with civilians who are observing or recording their actions in public as long as these civilians maintain a safe and reasonable distance from the scene, do not interfere with the officers’ work, and do not pose a danger.

Waples, partner at Waples and Hanger, called the settlement an “important victory” and one that “secures the right of all citizens to observe and record police officers’ public actions.”

King began videotaping the officers during the February incident when he became concerned that they were physically abusing the young man they were handcuffing. He retrieved his cellphone from his vehicle and began digitally recording the incident. He first walked to his neighbor’s property, then proceeded to the neighbor’s front porch.

A police officer walked over to King and ordered him to handover his phone. When King did not, the officer grabbed King, tackled him to the ground and, with the help of another officer, confiscated King’s cellphone and arrested him.

King alleged his First Amendment right to observe and record the actions of government officials in public was violated when the police interfered with his videotaping. Also, he claimed his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure was violated when police threw him to the ground injuring his shoulder and forcefully confiscating his cellphone.
 
 

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  • police misconduct, omissions & refusal to investigate
    8/11/15 i've reported damage to property & officer took report. i had two witnesses. reported that neighbors have been slandering my name, reputation by inciting, promoting, fear hatred toward & against me which is also a hate crime. the officers omit many details from the public record. a detective refuses to investigate or question witnesses. and i had neighbors twice threaten to shoot me & my dog when the threat, intimidation & harassment wasn't warranted. they do indeed own guns but the police won't confiscate them or charge them with a crime. nothing is being done to protect me and the police use such terms/words that make me out to be the villian while others are exonerated of blame!!! police won't provide me with the interact police reports nor will they allow me copies of the emergency calls or my voicemail messages to the district i made updating the violence & disorderly conduct inflicted upon me by another. the reports are void of the truth!!!!!
  • good for them bad for us.
    Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.
  • man in a cop costume
    the only way for justice to prevail is to hold the man in the cop costume accountable in his individual capacity by claiming theft,assault and kidnapping. This is aside from the false arrest and malicious prosecution. File a claim in common law jurisdiction for damage and injury by the man who committed the acts of violence on you.
  • Right on
    You hit it on the head, Jack! The city has not admitted guilt, and this does not create binding precedent for any other city or police force in the country--they may continue to be abusive and get away with it until a higher court rules on a civil rights case making it law.
  • No Police
    Next time you Police Haters need help call a thug. Oh..the thug might already be there.
  • Should be fired
    The police officers who arrested King need to be removed from the police force.
  • The cops lose the recording
    The cops lose the video when it shows them to be at fault. It haened to me in Winfield, IL. The recording showed the cop was asleep in his car in the middle of the intersection. It never made it to court, and the Judge didn't give a rats ass.
  • Legal Bulletins Are Worthless
    Given experience in Florida recently. Now if it was a departmental order with declaration of disciplinary action, I might be more comfortable.
  • Police and cameras
    The police should be required to wear cameras at all times so that all of their actions are recorded. The reality is a significant % of police have gotten out of control, who believe themselves to be above the law. One of the few ways citizens can defend themselves is to make it mandatory that all police officers on duty wear cameras at all times.
    • No Police
      Who would the Legal Community sue if it weren't for the Police Community? Would we even need the Legal Community or the Criminal Justice System without Police? What a cost saving endeavor.
    • No Police
      We should stop hiring police officers and abolish any standing department. I'm positive this action will stop all of these abuses of power. I suppose society will love each other.
    • Free to be a jerk
      Police officers are never held accountable BY THEIR DEPARTMENT for violating the rights of civilians. The city settles and to show the officer was "falsely" accused it goes on to promote the officer. The promotion send a message that "we'd like more thuggery."
    • Yes
      He most certainly got off with the settlement. When a town, county, state, etc. settles they don't admin wrongdoing. The city's insurance will pay the settlement and the taxpayers are on the hook for both the insurance premiums and this thug of a cop's salary. He is most certainly still out and about violating people's rights. Rest assured, nobody was held accountable for this in any way, shape, or form. The city basically just says "well, we'll send out a memo to the police not to assault you and violate your rights"
      • Violations
        As a result of the settlement, did the officer's get off the hook for violating his rights? That would be a pity.

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