On July 30, 2011, members of the Suffolk County Police Department were chasing two men, Ramon Rivera, 24, and Camilo Tatis, 33, around the tiny Long Island town of Bohemia. The men were eventually caught by police on Sycamore Street, and arrested on a variety of drug charges. Meanwhile, a press photographer and video journalist named Philip Datz showed up and started filming the aftermath of the chase. What happened next became the subject of a lengthy lawsuit, and, as the New York Civil Liberties Union announced today, a hefty settlement for the cameraman.
|A Suffolk County Police Sergeant approaches videographer Philip Datz to prevent him from filming on July 30, 2011. |
Datz worked for Stringer News Service, which sells breaking news footage to other media outlets. He had his press credentials displayed and he was standing on a public sidewalk. And even if Datz hadn't been a reporter, it's still absolutely legal to film or photograph the police in public spaces, provided you're not interfering with police activities.
Datz wasn't. Just moments after he began filming, though, a sergeant with Suffolk County's Fifth Precinct crossed the street towards him, yelling "Go away!" More »