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Current Events

Videographer Arrested For Filming Police Awarded $200k In Settlement

By Hanssie on June 19th 2014

In 2011, freelance news videographer Philip Datz filmed his own arrest as he was on the scene of a police crime scene. He was standing on public property, near other bystanders, wearing a press credential and filming for a local TV broadcast, when an officer approached him and ordered him to “go away.” When Datz asked where he could stand to continue filming, the officer said, “no place,” and threatened to arrest him. Datz moved further down the street, but continued to film and was arrested and charged with “misdemeanor obstruction of governmental administration.”

[REWIND: WHEN COPS & CAMERAS CLASH: 1ST AMENDMENT ISSUE]

The case was later dismissed by prosecutors and the police commissioner ordered his department to take media relations training. Datz then sued the Suffolk County Police Department and was awarded a $200,000 settlement this week. In addition, the SCPD will provide an ongoing training program for their officers to protect “the constitutional right of the public and press to observe, photograph and record police activity in locations open to the public.”

Though the terms of the settlement include that Suffolk County and the SCPD admit to no wrongdoing, Datz is happy with the settlement, and in a statement posted by the NPPA, states,  “This settlement is a victory for the First Amendment and for the public good. When police arrest journalists just for doing their job, it creates a chilling effect that jeopardizes everyone’s ability to stay informed about important news in their community.

Here is the video, posted on NewsCenterNY’s Youtube Page:

[Via PDN]

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Glenn Batson

    That 30 year cop just cost the City probably 300k if not more.

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  2. Ariel Domingo

    Another win for the freedom to broadcast and a nice hefty amount, that shows the officer his 30 years

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  3. Keem Ibarra

    I’d be happy as hell thinking of all the near gear i’d buy with $200k.. A house even!

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  4. Michael Rasmusse

    New gear,yeah.

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  5. Jacob Jexmark

    A lot of people commenting on the money, for me that is not the important part of this story. The fact that a photographer/videographer got vindicated in this matter is a win for the whole photographic community. For the last past years there’s been a lot of stories in media about photographers being wrongfully treated on public property. There is a lot of officers out there with little to no grasp of what rights we have. Maybe this could be a beginning to better education amongst police forces on photographers rights. One can hope.

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  6. Brian Stalter

    I wonder how much his attorney walked away with and how long it took from arrest to the finalization of the judgment.

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  7. Servando Miramontes

    No reasonable explanation as to why the videographer has to leave…. Shady situation, productive outcome.

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  8. Anthony Thurston

    Wow, that is quite the payday…

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  9. Jeff Lopez

    Wow, wish that would happen to me, I could really use some new equipment.

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  10. Aggelos Loukatos

    That police officer, pretty much violated his rights, so compensation should definitely be given to him, but I find 200k a bit too much!

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    • Drew Valadez

      I would agree but we also don’t know how long or how else this effected the videographer. He was well within his constitutional right to be there and if this arrest disturbed his personal life and financial arrangements, the 200k could be justified.

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