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Boston Pays Out $170,000 To Man Arrested For Recording Police 270

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-than-a-strongly-worded-letter dept.
Ian Lamont writes "The City of Boston has reached a $170,000 settlement with Simon Glik, who was arrested by Boston Police in 2007 after using his mobile phone to record police arresting another man on Boston Common. Police claimed that Glik had violated state wiretapping laws, but later dropped the charges and admitted the officers were wrong to arrest him. Glik had brought a lawsuit against the city (aided by the ACLU) because he claimed his civil rights were violated. According to today's ACLU statement: 'As part of the settlement, Glik agreed to withdraw his appeal to the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel. He had complained about the Internal Affairs Division's investigation of his complaint and the way they treated him. IAD officers made fun of Glik for filing the complaint, telling him his only remedy was filing a civil lawsuit. After the City spent years in court defending the officers' arrest of Glik as constitutional and reasonable, IAD reversed course after the First Circuit ruling and disciplined two of the officers for using "unreasonable judgment" in arresting Glik.'"
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Boston Pays Out $170,000 To Man Arrested For Recording Police

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  • I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:08PM (#39491023)
    ...that a precedent had been set in by court instead of by settlement. When one party (in this case, the government) is forced by the court to do something, it tends to have more legal weight behind it than when the party instead voluntarily takes an action.
  • lose-lose (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:09PM (#39491041)

    Boston has paid out nothing; Boston tax payers have paid out. There is no downside to law enforcement breaking the law, as they simply fall back on the (apparently) bottomless pockets of the general population. It's unlikely those involved will receive so much as a reprimand, let alone be fired. Even when officers are fired, they simply get re-employed as another location. It's a lose-lose situation for everyone but the officers.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:09PM (#39491043)

    At least this will encourage others to file similar suits, though. There's more than 1 way to skin a cat.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:14PM (#39491079)

    For 5 years of hassle to a citizen's effort to keep the government honest? I think it's a bargain compared to the payments we give out to politicians. Compare this to the millions that CEOs receive? A rounding error. This number is too small, not too large.

  • by yodleboy (982200) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:15PM (#39491089)
    ridiculous for falsely arresting someone, then dragging it through the courts for years? Anyway, it says it paid damages AND legal fees. What do you want to bet that 5 years of legal fees are about $160,000? The city got of easy.
  • by wurp (51446) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:17PM (#39491111) Homepage

    Not ridiculous. He was arrested, then spent years in court trying to get the police to do the right thing. What should he have done instead? Stopped when the time he invested became ridiculous? Then they would never change their behavior, and our rights would be even worse off than they are.

  • Re:lose-lose (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sique (173459) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:23PM (#39491173) Homepage

    Let it be a lesson to those people electing someone on a "tough on crime" ticket (which in turn means: free reign for the police to do as it likes.) They pay with their tax money for their mistake.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:23PM (#39491183)

    I just wish... ..that a precedent had been set in by court instead of by settlement

    Yes! I also wish to know which one will be chosen here: "The two officers, ... , face discipline ranging from an oral reprimand to suspension, a department spokeswoman said yesterday."
    Why do I think it will be a lot closer to the former?

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:28PM (#39491213)

    The precident is that police don't know the first fucking thing about the Constitution or your civil rights. Police can and will do whatever the fuck they want and your only recourse is to try and file a complaint about it after the fact (in the meantime, shut up and do what you're told by the officer).

    If cops actually had a clue about law, they wouldn't be cops.

  • by Dancing Propeller He (632229) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:28PM (#39491219)
    So until, the police and Internal Affairs get caught breaking the law, the law on the books isn't actually followed by the exact people who should know the law? Vigilante justice from within the police system is not a good culture to have brewing. Shouldn't anyone within the policing system that breaks the law or supports breaking the law be fired? Seems to be a conflict of interest to me.
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:38PM (#39491285) Homepage

    Not sure what this guys occupation is, but 5 years later with $170,000 isn't much to show for it. That's $34,000 a year. It's also a payout for his legal fees. Net profit??? In fact, he could still be in negative when it's all said and done.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oracleguy01 (1381327) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:39PM (#39491299)
    That is kind of what I was thinking. The officers got off very easy, they probably should have been fired. The IAD officers should be disciplined as well for their poor handling of the case. Even if the arresting officer didn't know (which is no excuse) that what Gilk was doing was legal, IAD certainly should have.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:43PM (#39491325)
    The taxpayers are also the voters. They deserve to pay until they take notice and send a message to their government.
  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:46PM (#39491369) Journal
    So, the range of punishments is from being told not to do it again, all the way up to being given some paid time off? Where do I sign up?
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:49PM (#39491379)

    Seriously, you are an idiot.

    Glik did not ask to be arrested, but he was. He asked the IAD to investigate, they told him to fuck off and file a civil suit. So he did. And by winning it and costing them $170,000 the Boston police department did what they should have done in the first fucking place - the disciplined the officers involved.

    Maybe the tax payers should pay more attention in the future to their local cops.

    I don't think the parent poster was lamenting the fact that the guy got a big payout, but that this ended up with a cash settlement instead of being played out to the end to set a legal precedent. Even if he ended up getting $170K (or more) in the end, at least it would have set a legal precedent that should make this kind of thing less likely in the future.

  • I picture (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:51PM (#39491397)

    Elmer Fudd comes out and says "Tony you been warry warry baddd".

    Seriously oral reprimand? Something like "hey dumbass you just cost us two years of your wages". The sad think is it is the public's money that is going to be used to pay this. So you pay for a police officer, he pisses on a citizens rights then you tax the public some more to pay off for the damage you did. Nice.

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:58PM (#39491459)
    They acted in a way they believed the law specified. It took 5 years of lawyers and judges wrangling for it to be conclusively decided that the law didn't specify that and the arrest was wrongful.

    If it took people who have been studying law most of their lives that long to decide, what chance does a police officer, with a comparatively small legal knowledge and a few minutes under pressure to make his mind up, have to get to the right decision? It would be more than a bit harsh to brand cops criminals when they were forced to make a decision that was beyond their capability.
  • by Stoutlimb (143245) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:00PM (#39491477)

    5 years. Way to go USA justice system. You suck.

  • Re:Amazing! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by micheas (231635) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:32PM (#39491669) Homepage Journal

    Quoting from the apeals court ruling: "The presense of probable cause is not even arguable here."

    I wouldn't want to try arguing a similar arrest was legal when the court uses language like that in it's ruling.

    The court didn't say that they didn't find the police officers arguements unconvincing, they more or less said get a clue.

    The police were told that it did not matter what their boss told them, they were still guilty of violating Gilk's first amendment rights, and could be personally sued for it. Which should put a chill in law enforecement officers making those types of arrests.

  • Re:Amazing! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by micheas (231635) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:34PM (#39491681) Homepage Journal
    The apealls court claimed that the police officers position was "not even arguable" Ouch.
  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:36PM (#39491695) Journal

    I'm just glad this suit went the right way. Cam-coders in every cell phone will have a major impact on both crime and enforcement in the future. People are getting filmed while robbing or committing other crimes right and left, which is a very good thing, and a major disincentive to commit major crimes. Note that no one is trying to make us to stop recording crimes in progress, unless it's policemen committing them. The impact this has on enforcement should be equally positive, creating a major disincentive for the police to act above the law. If this had gone the other way, it would have been a blow to freedom from government oppression.

  • by trout007 (975317) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:40PM (#39491735)

    So government employees do something wrong and the court punishes the taxpayers? How about paying that $160k out of the cops retirement fund?

    This is like when a Priest gets caught molesting a kid and the Church pays the victim with the congregations money.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) * on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:18PM (#39492069)

    But the price was not high enough for every officer on the line to get the message. They pay more for your average car crash involving a city vehicle.

    Add three more zeros to the end of that number and this practice of arresting photographers ceases everywhere in the country overnight.

    The court ruling helps. but not enough. It was only the First Circuit. We went years with GPS tracking sans warrant being legal in one circuit and illegal in another before the SCOTUS stepped in.

  • Re:Amazing! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:30PM (#39492169)
    It means that Glik is likely to get hauled in on a jaywalking charge if the light ever changes when he's partway across the road, and he'd better make sure his vehicle never ever has a bust light.
  • Re:Amazing! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by demonlapin (527802) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:52PM (#39492323) Homepage Journal

    could be personally sued for it.

    I don't see that anywhere. Revocation of qualified immunity would be an immense boon to public liberty and would drop the hammer on bad cops, but his payout appears to be coming from the city of Boston, not from the officers themselves.

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:19PM (#39492451)

    So government employees do something wrong and the court punishes the taxpayers? How about paying that $160k out of the cops retirement fund?

    This is like when a Priest gets caught molesting a kid and the Church pays the victim with the congregations money.

    The cops were working for the city. They authority they abused was derived from the city. The city -- and thus the citizenry -- is responsible for their actions.

    Now if the city thinks that it is not at fault for the actions of these employees -- that it wasn't bad management or poor training, etc., but rather something completely out of their control -- then perhaps the city should sue the officers to recover the money.

    At any rate, it is important for all employers -- cities, churches, banks, etc. -- to ensure that they hire, manage, and train the employees acting in their name to obey all relevant laws and regulations in the course of their duties. To do any less is to expose the organization to unnecessary liability. This is especially important if you issue the aforementioned employees badges, guns, foreclosure forms, or the ability to invoke eternal damnation.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:19PM (#39492453)

    You would think $17M would get attention, but I have seen cases with $7M settlements where similar abusers just yawn and say "so sue me."

    It took this guy and the ACLU a couple of years to get here, I'd feel ripped off if I only received $170K for two years of seriously disrupting my life.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:38PM (#39492575)

    Even being fired, they would have been let off too easy. At the very minimum, that $170K should have come out of the officers' assets and future earnings; not from the taxpayers.

    I'd even say that when the cops decide to make up false offenses and arrest people for them like this, the cops involved should, themselves, be facing jail time.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ae1294 (1547521) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:42PM (#39492613) Journal

    According to the article, the City of Boston had a policy allowing officers to arrest people in those circumstances. No one will get fired for following this type of policy. I'm thinking the punishment will be an informal finger wag.

    Yes they where just following orders... I wonder what other orders they follow?

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:55PM (#39492737)

    So?

    Who cares what some bureaucrat wrote in some city policy? If what Glik, and people like him, were doing was not, in fact, against the law; then the cops were 100% out of line in even speaking to him, much less arresting him. And they should be facing catastrophic civil and even criminal penalties of their own.

    How the heck does anyone figure that policy overrides the law?

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @10:09PM (#39492833)

    But the price was not high enough for every officer on the line to get the message. They pay more for your average car crash involving a city vehicle.

    Add three more zeros to the end of that number and this practice of arresting photographers ceases everywhere in the country overnight.

    How about firing everyone up the chain of command who supported them.
    Taxpayers pay for those fines, but taking away their jobs and pensions is more appropriate - after all when the police abuse their powers it generally ruins the lives of the people they do it. Turn about is fair play.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaleSwanson (910098) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @10:10PM (#39492843)

    I just wish that a precedent had been set in by court instead of by settlement.

    I wish the money had come from the pockets of those responsible, and not the tax payers.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by publiclurker (952615) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @12:25AM (#39493479)
    Nothing like sharing the consequences to make sure the honest cops keep the lesser ones in line.
  • Re:I just wish... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alranor (472986) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @12:30AM (#39493501)

    Charge the officers involved with kidnapping.

    Then you'd see them stop.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @01:02AM (#39493619)
    Maybe those "innocent" cops could spend a bit more time arresting the worst of their non-innocent colleagues or bosses.
  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @02:53AM (#39494007) Homepage

    "After the City spent years in court defending the officers' arrest of Glik..."

    I wonder how long they'd have fought if they hadn't had taxpayer money to pay the lawyers.

  • Re:I just wish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:03AM (#39494743)

    Do you support arresting everyone then? After all, they could all be planning to commit a crime in the next few minutes.

    There are rules about what the police can and can't do. Just like for everyone else. If they break those rules, they should be punished for it. If they thought the law allowed them to detain a person, but it actually didn't, then they should be treated the same as everyone else : Ignorance of the law is no defense. They should of course be offered a plea bargain, where they get reduced sentences if they testify against the person who gave them the order to arrest people taping them. And that person should be charged with conspiracy at least.

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