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New Hampshire Man Gets Cop to Apologize After Arrest For Legal Act of Recording Him

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Great news out of New Hampshire via the law offices of Martin and Hipple:

Weare resident Bill Alleman has won a settlement in his civil suit alleging retaliatory prosecution on the part of the Weare Police Department. In July of 2011, Mr. Alleman was arrested for recording Officer Brandon Montplaisir with his mobile phone. A New Hampshire District Court judge dismissed the charges approximately four months later, noting that recording public officials is a right protected by the First Amendment. Alleman then sued the Weare Police Department for retaliatory prosecution, claiming that he was arrested and prosecuted for exercising his First Amendment rights….

Alleman even got a written apology from Weare police chief John D. Valleca:

In his apology, Chief Velleca said, "After reviewing your case and applicable case law, including the recent decision in Gericke v. Begin, we have concluded that your arrest… should not have occurred. Accordingly, we regret and apologize for your arrest and prosecution." Promising continued changes in the culture of the department, he continued, "I… provide the officers with the training and guidance that will assist them in rendering professional, intelligent, and competent police services. I will continue to educate our officers on the importance of understanding and respecting the rights of all citizens, as well as the influence new case law has on policing."

Alleman stated in a press release from his lawyers:

"I feel good about the settlement, but I feel great about the fact that our police chief has, in writing, admitted that recording the police is not a crime," said Mr. Alleman. "I really hope we've seen the end of this unlawful nonsense in New Hampshire," he added. "Public servants need to understand, finally, that they're 'at all times accountable' to the people."

I wrote about Free State Project leader Carla Gericke's similar victory over an erroneous procecution based on the belief she was shooting video of cops back in May.

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  1. Thanks to this settlement, the next time a cop illegally arrests somebody for recording them will be considered a first offense.

    Rinse. Repeat.

  2. And furthermore, unless this cop is prosecuted for kidnapping, false arrest and imprisonment and has firearm enhancer stacked on, then they shouldn’t ever be able to charge someone with a crime and say “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

    Fuck their double-standard.

    1. Yeah, while this is better than a lot of the responses we have seen, I still don’t think that “We’ll give our guys proper training” is “Great news”.

      And a picture without alt-text is the worst news.

      1. A picture without Alt Text is nut punch enough to make up for the nearly-good-news story.

  3. A fairly lame apology. Note the reference to “recent decision” and “new case law” – how could they have predicted that arresting someone for photographing them would be considered wrong, until a court pronounced on the issue!

    1. Notorious, cops apparently can’t employ deductive or inductive reasoning. They can only process written instructions. That’s why “compliance with procedure” is an absolute defense, regardless of what the criminal statutes say.

  4. The police in Weare have also started wearing lapel-mounted cameras at all times. I think this department has thoroughly learned their lesson…

    1. They’re rolling those out this summer; there’s not 100% implementation yet.

      (signed: a Weare resident)

  5. Good video and audio keeps everyone honest.

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