A Washington D.C. man has sued two police officers for seizing his smartphone with which he photographed a police officer engaging in allegedly “aggressive conduct toward members of the public” after another officer hit a man on a motorbike with a squad car. His smartphone eventually was returned, but was allegedly missing its memory card.
“Citizen journalism” is on the rise due to easy access to recording equipment afforded by smartphones combined with the ability to instantly broadcast observations via social media. Courts have recognized this trend and protected individuals’ rights to record matters of public interests like law enforcement officers in action. Still, those attending protests or other events where they are likely to record police officers should take precautions. Particularly during mass arrests, officers may not be able to separate bystanders and journalists from rioters. Some helpful measures include backing up the phone’s memory and labeling phones and memory cards with the owner’s name and contact information and, if applicable, an indication that the owner is a member of the media. Continue reading