Connecticut

ACLU: Connecticut State Troopers Caught On Tape Fabricating Charges Against Protester

"Gotta cover our ass."

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One Friday evening last September, Connecticut resident Michael Picard was doing what he usually does: standing on a strip of grass by an Interstate onramp and protesting the government.

Picard, a local privacy activist, often protests police DUI checkpoints, which he believes are unconstitutional and a waste of money. That night he was holding a sign warning motorists of a DUI checkpoint farther up the road. Picard, like any good protester these days, also had a camera to document his interactions with police.

What he ended capturing on video is now at the center of a civil rights lawsuit filed Monday on Picard's behalf by the Connecticut ACLU against three state troopers, whom Picard claims illegally seized his camera and then conspired to fabricate charges against him. Unbeknownst to the officers, though, the camera was still recording.

Watch the video:

According the lawsuit, Connecticut state trooper John Barone confronted Picard, saying he had received complaints from passing motorists that Picard, who also open-carries a handgun, was waving his gun in the air. (The ACLU says there were never any such complaints and that Picard kept his gun holstered at all times.) After claiming it was illegal for Picard to film him, Barone snatched the camera and put it on the roof of his police cruiser while he and other officers discussed what charges to hit Picard with.

"You want to punch a number on this either way?" Barone asked one of his supervising officers, police slang for opening an investigation and entering a case number. "Gotta cover our ass."

"We could hit him with reckless use of the highway by a pedestrian and creating a public disturbance," Sgt. John Jacobi suggested.

"And then we claim in backup we had multiple people who stopped to complain," Master Sgt. Patrick Torneo added later in the conversation. "They didn't want to stay and offer a statement, so we took our own course of action."

The officers ticketed Picard, returned his camera and gun, and told him to protest in another location. It took Picard more than a year to get the criminal charges against him dismissed.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU says the three state troopers retaliated against Picard, violating his First Amendment rights to protest and film the government, as well as his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

"Community members like me have a right to film government officials doing their jobs in public, and we should be able to protest without fearing political retribution from law enforcement," Picard said in a statement. "As an advocate for free speech, I'm deeply disappointed that these police officers ignored my rights, particularly because two of the troopers involved were supervisors who should be setting an example for others. By seeking to hold these three police officers accountable, I hope that I can prevent the same thing from happening to someone else."

A spokesperson for the Connecticut State Police said the issue was subject to an ongoing investigation and declined to comment.

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59 responses to “ACLU: Connecticut State Troopers Caught On Tape Fabricating Charges Against Protester

  1. But what ethnicity is Picard? That’s the important question.

      1. Michael “captain” Picard

    1. A French Englishman.

      1. Moreof an english frenchman

    1. More grist for Trump’s debate mill.

      1. No No No. According to ABC Evening News with David Muir, it’s TRUMPS foundation that has problems. For example making charitable contributions to settle lawsuits against trump’s businesses. Possible violations of The Law.

        It was actually comical how biased they are. Trying to inoculate Hillary from charges that her foundation is a sham. And the amounts…..the figures in last nights Trump story added up to a few hundred grand. Hillary gets that for one speech.

      2. Prediction: he won’t mention it during the debates.

  2. H/T to stalwart H&R commenter Tonio

    Tonio|9.20.16 @ 4:49PM|#

    Police Accidentally Record Themselves Conspiring to Fabricate Criminal Charges Against Protester

    1. Brave, handsome, and above all, modest.

    2. Pfft, probably just got it from Balko.

    3. Hat tipping yourself?

      Have some dignity man.

      1. Dignity? Here? LOL.

        The back-story is that in all my years of commenting here, I don’t believe I’ve ever received a hat tip. But I certainly got a reaction when I complimented Virginia Postrel.

      2. That’s not even a euphemism. C’mon man, try a little.

  3. Wheres the wood chipper?

    1. The truck towing it got stopped for a broken taillight.

  4. A spokesperson for the Connecticut State Police said the issue was subject to an ongoing investigation and declined to comment.

    Those ceaseless and secret investigations are a godsend to policeman privacy.

    1. In fact, according to the ACLU on this, there was no internal investigation because the State Police kept claiming that they had to interview Picard without his lawyer present.

      http://bit.ly/2cWYhZk

  5. And nothing else happened.

    CB

    1. We have cops on video murdering people in broad daylight, and nothing happens. Getting them on video tape fabricating charges for fucks and giggles serves only to confirm what we already know: cops are fine with criminals in their ranks. Not merely fine with, but delighted by and protective of criminals in their ranks.

      Once murder is free of charge, everything else just becomes a lark.

      1. As I said yesterday, the videos have not and will not change anything. A good portion of our fellow citizens fully support the “Obey or Die” rule.

        Face this reality and despair.

        1. Yeah, but sadly, there sure seems to be a lot of “Obey and Die” lately.

          1. Cake and death?

      2. The purpose of government is to commit crimes with the approval of the public. They’re just vigilantes with better PR and more bureaucracy.

  6. In the lawsuit, the ACLU says the three state troopers retaliated against Picard, violating his First Amendment rights to protest and film the government, as well as his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

    What about filing false charges, filing a false report, perjury, abuse of power, and whatever other criminal actions the police officers committed? It’s not like qualified immunity applies. They were engaging in criminal activity.

    Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    1. Why do you people claim there’s a double standard. There’s no double standard with cops!

      h2h

      1. Maybe he shouldn’t be protesting on the highway if he didn’t want false charges.

  7. I suspect the outcome will be further training. From now on officers will be required to delete any video that is made of them. Failure to do so will result in termination, because video of police engaging in criminal activity endangers officer safety.

    1. No, the determination thought up by our brilliant TOP.MEN will be that the fine officers just need more training. And then nothing else will happen.

    2. I think everyone who has been convicted based on the testimony of these cops may have a legitimate basis for an appeal.

      I also think that IF IF IF these cops were caught on tape lying, collaborating on manufactured testimony, etc. that any prosecutor withholding that information from a jury in any future trial in which they testified should be more than enough for a mistrial.

      If this is so, their testimony will always be in doubt forever more. If their very presence on the case were enough to establish reasonable doubt, then what good are they in making arrests? What good is their testimony?

      1. “I also think that IF IF IF these cops”

        Look, there’s no need to mock the president here.

        1. I try to take it easy on Reason.

          They hate it when commenters put them in a situation where someone might sue them or a commenter for defamation. It’s expensive.

          And everyone’s innocent until proven guilty, right?

          Even cops.

          1. And everyone’s innocent until proven guilty, right?

            Um, no. Only cops are held to that standard. Everyone else is guilty. Sometimes lawyers get them off, but they’re still considered to be guilty.

            1. Particularly if you change a diaper in Arizona.

      2. So much this! If I were an attorney in CT and one of these officers was involved in a case, I’d go after his credibility with vigor.

    3. If they can’t even stop a camera phone recording, how can they stop their bodycams recording when they need to? SO much training is needed here.

  8. “Connecticut state trooper John Barone confronted Picard, saying he had received complaints from passing motorists that Picard, who also open-carries a handgun, was waving his gun in the air.”

    I have an ex-girlfriend. She wasn’t very good at the whole accountability thing either. Sometimes she’d make up implausible cookie monster stories like that. I didn’t steal the cookies–it was a cookie monster!

    Yeah, so there the cookie monster was, standing by the side of the road, warning people of an upcoming DUI checkpoint, like he always does, waving his gun in the air?

    That they imagine you’re going to accept a story like that should be personally insulting to a juror. No one should need a camera roiling to see through that fairy-tale. A blind man should be able to see through a story like that.

    1. If he’s crazy enough to warn people that there is a DUI checkpoint ahead, film the police, and stand up for his rights, then he’s most certainly crazy enough to wave a gun in the air! I mean, he like quotes the Constitution and stuff! Only crazy people do that!

      1. Then why is he being charged with a crime?

        Why didn’t they take him in for a psychiatric evaluation?

        1. I mean from a jury’s point of view. The guy is obviously a bit crazy, so the officers’ testilies must be true.

          1. Because the police are professionals who keep us safe. Why would I believe some nut who walks around with a gun.

          2. Having seen many many many jury trials, they are far more competent and far less accepting of police bullshit than some people seem to think.

    2. “Picard, who also open-carries a handgun, was waving his gun in the air.”

      That phone could have been a gun, an officer can never be safe enough unless they just start shooting towards anything that ‘might’ be a gun. The guy is lucky to be alive.

    3. Perception is the filter through which we view reality. In theory this works quite well, but then so does communism. All men are idealists and view the world through rose-tinted glasses; the left-hand lens being called Experience and the right Bias, both sides being so wound up in who we are that the whole is called Ego. Ordinary pink spectacles they are to others but to our own selves perception is the validation and summation of our existence. Thus will a man choose perception over reality if the latter disagrees with the former. To an intellectual, this is irony – to a bastard, this is opportunity.

  9. In New Hampshire you know what happens to cops caught lying ? Their name goes on a list.
    Based on a court case it’s called the Laurie List. Officers whose credibility may be in doubt because of previous behaviour (like committing perjury). And it’s not an actual list that you could look at, it’s a note in their personnel file.

    1. I believe the list is available to judges and prosecutors. Not sure if it’s available to defense attorneys.

      1. Prosecutors have argued they have no responsibility to make defense attorneys aware that an officer in on the list, despite their duty to provide exculpatory evidence to the defense. So if you are a defense attorney, you have to find out if they are on the list. The state isn’t going to tell you.

  10. This train car smells like ass. You know what else stinks?

    1. Really? You’re gonna leave that here?

      Your mother

      1. Sorry. The correct answer is Hitler.

  11. Unbeknownst to the officers, though, the camera was still recording.

    Clearly Connecticut police need more training. If he’d been properly trained, he would have known to “accidentally” destroy the phone.

  12. From the police point of view I can see this as a legitimate discussion.

    They know he is guilty of a crime and must be stopped. The conversation is about “what crime are we going to charge him with”. They have several options, they are just not sure. The bit about “we had witnesses who didn’t want to hang out” could be factual … there might have been a couple of motorists who drove through and said “hey, there’s some dude back there with a sign warning people”.

    It is actually a nice peek behind the scenes of the sort of banal corruption that exists in all bureaucracies.

  13. Picard fucked with the wrong street gang.

    1. There are FOUR street lights!

  14. Why are communities/states run by Democrats so morally and ethically corrupt?

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