While video cameras on cell phones are hardly breaking technology, video recordings of police officers using a banned choke-hold technique have been everywhere lately. Cell phone videos have surfaced of Eric Garner of Staten Island suffering a fatal heart attack after an officer used the choke-hold and knocked him to the ground, as well as an incident in East Harlem depicting an officer using the move to restrain an individual who was later charged with turnstile-jumping, and a third video showing an officer in Brooklyn supposedly using the choke-hold on a woman who was accused of illegally grilling on the sidewalk.

The common thread with all of these videos is that they were taken by a bystander on their cell phone. When police activity is recorded by civilians, rather than the police themselves, many issues arise that may require the assistance of a knowledgable Manhattan or Brooklyn defense attorney. While common sense tells us that the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments give us the right to film and record police officers when they are performing their official duties in a public place, the officers themselves do not always see it that way. In fact, it is not uncommon for individuals to get arrested after legally recording police officers. The recording of an officer can frequently lead to an impermissible pat-down or search that can reveal illegal contraband and result in an arrest. In certain cases, the contraband can be suppressed.

Recently, in Gericke v. Begin, a Federal judge in the 1st Circuit held that “a traffic stop does not extinguish an individual’s right to film,” although there does need to be some reasonable restrictions. Also, a journalist in Suffolk County was just awarded a $200k settlement after he was improperly arrested for filming a police chase.

If you find yourself in such a similar scenario, or even if you simply have your cell phone confiscated, it is important to consult with an experienced defense attorney who understands the circumstances under which the police are authorized to conduct a search or make an arrest.

Source: details instances of officers arresting people for recording them.

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