Ordinary citizens have the right to record police officers when they are performing their duties in public, according a statement of interest the Obama Administration filed on behalf of Mannie Garcia. Further, officers use discretionary charges such as disorderly conduct, loitering, disturbing the peace, and resisting arrest too often to retaliate against individuals exercising their First Amendment rights.
In June 2011, Mannie Garcia, a photojournalist, was in suburbs of Maryland and witnessed police for Montgomery County police arresting “two young Hispanic men.” Worrying that the police were using excessive force, according to Garcia, he photographed the brutality he was witnessing.
Once aware of Mr. Garcia’s presence, Garcia says, Maryland County Officer Christopher Malouf came to Garcia. Garcia informed Malouf that he was a journalist and that the object in his hands was a camera. After this, according to Garcia, the officer placed him in a choke hold and dragged him to the police car; he then proceeded to verbally and physically abuse Garcia. Garcia alleges that before the incursion ended the memory card from his camera was taken by the officer.
Garcia was charged with disorderly conduct and in December 2011 was found to be not guilty for the charge. Due to the failure of the police department to discipline the officers involved, Garcia has filed a civil lawsuit against Montgomery County.