More than four years after arresting Simon Glik for using his cell phone to record another man's arrest, the Boston Police Department has admitted the officers who were involved used "unreasonable judgment." That conclusion, which contradicts the position the department has taken since 2007, comes five months after a federal appeals court ruled that Glik had a First Amendment right to record the arrest on the Boston Common, which he did because he thought the police were using excessive force. Superintendent Kenneth Fong, superintendent of the department's Bureau of Professional Standards, revealed the reversal in a letter to Glik last Thursday. The Boston Globe reports that the officers, Sergeant Detective John Cunniffe and Officer Peter Savalis, "face discipline ranging from an oral reprimand to suspension."
Sarah Wunsch, acting legal director of the Massachusetts ACLU, which helped Glik with his federal lawsuit against the department, tells Ars Technica "they're hanging the individual officers out to dry." Glik argues that the city failed to properly train Cunniffe and Savalis, and until now the city has insisted the officers acted reasonably, even though the charges against Glik, including an alleged violation of the state wiretap law, were dropped or dismissed. "Mr. Glik did not articulate a violation of law or the department's rules and regulations by an officer," said a February 2008 memo from the Internal Affairs Division. "Mr. Glik was advised that the proper forum for this matter was with the courts." Glik, an immigration attorney, tells the Globe:
As far as I knew my complaint was summarily dismissed….I was basically laughed out of the building….From what I understand, it takes filing a federal lawsuit in order for internal affairs to review a complaint.
I noted Glik's case in a September column about prosecuting people for recording public officials. Radley Balko reported from the front lines of "The War on Cameras" in the January 2011 issue of Reason. Reason.tv has covered the issue as well:
[Thanks to Ron Steiner for the tip.]