by Derek Gilna
Journalist Michael Picard, who has previously recorded instances of police misconduct, was arrested by Connecticut state troopers on September 11, 2015, while he lawfully open carried a firearm and recorded their activities at a DUI checkpoint on his cell phone. However, after they confiscated his phone, the troopers continued to record, while conspiring to contrive a crime for which they could arrest the journalist.
According to Trooper First Class John Barone, Sergeant John Jacobi, and Trooper Jeff Jalbert, Picard was accused of recklessly displaying his firearm and endangering people. However, the facts show that he was holding a sign and recording, and never touched his gun during the entire incident.
The officers were upset that Picard was recording their activities on public property, which was completely legal, and that they could not intimidate him to stop filming, forcing them to take his property to assert their non-existent authority, and then contrive false charges to cover their misconduct.
Despite inadvertently recording evidence of their own ill-conceived cover-up, the troopers were cleared by their own department's internal affairs division.. Police union attorney Mark Dumas said, " They were exonerated. The trooper did nothing wrong. They were doing their jobs, and they do an excellent job."
Needless to say, Picard's attorney, Joseph Sastre, who along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the officers civilly, was not impressed: "We all should be so lucky to be in charge of investigating ourselves," he said. "The State Police internal affairs report has no bearing on our civil case It's not even based on a complaint by my client. The state police command initiated the internal 'investigation' themselves after the story broke."
"Months after Michael's arrest," he continued, "that they concluded the investigation by exonerating themselves should surprise nobody. We never made a citizen's complaint. Because we never had any faith in them to conduct a legitimate internal affair investigation. A police department's internal affairs report cannot be use as evidence in a court of law for good reasons. First and foremost, because they can be initiated and conducted for completely self-serving reasons."
"The evidence clearly shows that these police officers violated Mr. Picard's rights," Sastre noted. "we are confident that the court will agree, and we hope that it will send a strong message to police and the public alike that enforcing the law means respecting free speech, not trampling on it." Given the compelling evidence clearly proving police misconduct, this should prove a very interesting case.
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