Civil Liberties

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


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.