Police officers accidentally recorded themselves making up charges against a protester in Connecticut, claims a lawsuit.
Three Connecticut state troopers are accused of violating the constitutional rights of Michael Picard -- a known campaigner who regularly appears at DUI checkpoints.
The video shows state trooper John Barone approach Picard and tell him he has no right to film the scene or the officers in West Hartford on September 11, 2015.
He snatches the recording device, confiscates the protester's pistol (which he has a permit for) and marches back to a police vehicle where he chats with another officer and appears to conspire against Picard.
Master sergeant Patrick Torneo is heard saying,
Have that Hartford lieutenant call me, I want to see if he's got any grudges.
Referring to a code in the police data base, Barone replies,
You want me to punch a number on this either way? Gotta cover our ass.
Sergeant John Jacobi then suggests,
He was on the highway portion? So we can hit him with reckless use of highway by a pedestrian and creating a public disturbance, and whatever he said. That's a ticket for two terms, yeah. It's 53a -- 53 -- 181, something like that. Crap! I mean, we can hit him with creating a public disturbance.
I think we can do simple trespass, we do reckless use of the highway and creating a public disturbance. All three are tickets -- we'll throw three charges on the ticket.
Picard, who posts videos on YouTube about DUI checkpoint rights, was hit with all three tickets and the charges were later dismissed in court.
Troopers John Barone, Patrick Torneo and John Jacobi are all named in the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut lawsuit.
Dan Barrett, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut, said,
Police should be focused on public safety, not punishing protesters and those who film public employees working on a public street As the video shows, these police officers were more concerned with thwarting Mr. Picard's free speech and covering their tracks than upholding the law.
Connecticut State Police have yet to comment on the lawsuit.
Citations: Business Insider