A man in Massachusetts is suing police in Amherst after he was attacked for filming officers using excessive force while making an arrest.
Thomas Donovan, a legal studies student at the University of Massachusetts, is pressing ahead with the civil rights lawsuit, alleging that his First Amendment rights were infringed.
Donovan was pepper sprayed and hit with batons by police dressed in riot gear as they cracked down on students during an annual day of St. Patrick’s Day related festivities in Amherst.
The video clearly shows that Donovan was not interfering with police making the arrest. Indeed, he was on the other side of a fence which cops had to walk around in order to assault him.
As he demanded the badge number of the officer who had pepper sprayed him, to no avail, Donovan was struck by another officer and forced to the ground, propelling the phone out of his hand.
“Arocho, assisted by Defendant Andrew Hulse, placed Mr. Donovan under arrest.” the lawsuit states. “Meanwhile, Mr. Donovan’s phone, which had landed on the ground with the camera facing up, continued to film. It captured the actions of another police officer, Defendant John Doe 3, who walked over to the phone, stood over it, then stomped on it with his boot, several times, in an unsuccessful effort to destroy it.” the filing continues.
The resulting video survived because the phone was in a shock proof hard case. It gives a chilling impression of what it is like to be stomped on by a thuggish police state storm trooper.
Donovan was arrested for “disorderly conduct” and “riot, failure to disperse,” spending up to six hours in jail without being allowed to wash the pepper spray out of his eyes.
However, the charges were dropped after it emerged that the video had survived. He was also suspended from the university because of the incident, but successfully appealed against the suspension, using the footage as evidence.
It also emerged that Officer Arocho lied in the police report, claiming that Donovan was pepper sprayed “as he began to close the distance between himself and the officers.” The video footage clearly shows no such thing occurred.
The lawsuit argues the following points:
Defendants knew that it was wrong to stop a civilian from filming police officers in public when the civilian did not interfere with police activity.
Defendants knew that it was wrong to use force against a civilian for filming police officers in public when the civilian did not interfere with police activity.
Defendants knew that it was wrong to arrest a civilian for filming police officers in public when the civilian did not interfere with police activity.
Defendants knew that it was wrong to try to destroy a civilian’s phone merely because it contained video of police officers performing their duties in public.
Had the footage not survived the jackboot stomping, Donovan may now have a criminal record and a suspension from University. As he is studying to ultimately become a state trooper, this would no doubt have severely hampered if not altogether derailed his progress.
This is the very reason why filming police is protected under the First Amendment.
Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.