Man Arrested in Retaliation for Filming Cops Files Federal Lawsuit
TUESDAY, JULY 05, 2016

The Legal Aid Society and Proskauer Rose LLP are filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of Ruben An, who was arrested on July 28, 2014, in retaliation for filming officers on a sidewalk in Lower Manhattan. Surveillance video from a nearby building, along with Mr. An's cellphone recording, are both attached to the lawsuit as exhibits. The video clearly shows that Mr. An was arrested, as other New Yorkers have been, in retaliation for recording police officers. After fighting his charges in criminal court for a full year, he was acquitted of all charges.

Cellphones have become nearly ubiquitous among American adults. According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project, as of summer 2015, 92% of adults in the United States own a cell phone and 68% own a smartphone. The NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board, in its latest report, highlighted the "profound" impact cell phone recordings have had in holding police accountable for misconduct, especially force. This impact became especially clear following the death of Eric Garner and the important role a cell phone recording played in clearly portraying how police force caused his death.

This lawsuit alleges that the NYPD has maintained a widespread practice and custom of permitting NYPD officers to interfere with the First Amendment rights of individuals who, without interfering with police activity, records or attempts to record such activity in public places. The lawsuit cites recent examples of this, including examples that occurred long after the NYPD distributed a "Finest" message to its officers warning officers that such activity violated the First Amendment.

Mr. An seeks a declaration from the court that he has a right to record public police activity under the First Amendment and that the officers' actions here violated that right. He also seeks an injunction against the NYPD from continuing to retaliate against New Yorkers for recording public police conduct. In order to ensure the Court reaches the key First Amendment issue presented, Mr. An does not seek damages.