A post on Photography is Not a Crime drew my attention the other day, so I decided to dig a little deeper and see what I could find.
In the post, Alexander John Lege was reported to have been arrested for filming a police stop in Lafayette, Louisiana from about 50 feet away. The deputy sheriff, Randall Broussard, apparently didn’t like being filmed, and confronted Lege. He eventually arrested Lege for interfering.
The same YouTube channel that has that incident also has several incidents from Eunice, Louisiana, in St. Landry Parish (with parts of the town in Acadia and Evangeline Parishes), and is somewhat north by northwest of Layfeyette Parish.
In this incident, Lege (or whoever is running the camera that I’m assuming is Lege) starts to video record an officer. After just a few minutes, the officer confronts him and tells him to leave or he’ll be arrested.
In this video, he is video recording an accident investigation from a good distance away and is clearly not interfering. A Eunice police sergeant approaches him and tells him to leave the “crime” scene. Lege moves away, but the sergeant contacts him again, asks for identification, and tells Lege that there is a Supreme Court case that says Lege could be sued for video recording private citizens. Unfortunately, the sergeant only had the information half right. SCOTUS, in Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 614 (1999), ruled that police officers could not take the media with them when they served a search warrant. The lawsuit wasn’t against the media, it was against the police, and the police lost. See also Hanlon v. Berger, 526 U.S. 808, 809-10 (1999) (per curiam) (federal agents violated citizen’s rights by allowing CNN to accompany them on a search warrant). The sergeant then threatened him with arrest a final time.
Also in Eunice, on December 24, 2012, he was video recording an encounter with the local college’s housing staff and the police that involved him. The first thing that happens is the officer tells him to put the phone down and to stop recording. At approximately 12:55 in the video, Lege asks what the probable cause was to pull him over, and the officer says that he doesn’t need probable cause if the management asks him to pull him over. Well, that’s a new one on me. I was always under the impression that an officer had to have at least reasonable suspicion to pull someone over. I guess in Louisiana all that is required that Boudreaux asks an officer to stop someone and it’s OK. Finally, Lege is trespassed from his apartment (and evicted, according to the college official). While walking away, Lege flips the bird at the officer and is immediately arrested for disorderly conduct. I guess the officers there don’t understand the Free Speech clause either. Maybe someone should advise them of Swartz v. Insogna, 704 F.3d 105 (2d Cir. 2013) and the multitude of other cases that make it clear that citizens can flip off police officers.
In any event, police in the heart of Cajun country apparently have no regards for the First Amendment.
Apparently the Eunice Police have arrested him again, for video recording police. I’ll post more as I get the information.