A federal lawsuit brought for the unlawful arrest of a man who filmed a police raid of his house has been settled for $275,000.
Alfredo Valentin was arrested by Manchester, New Hampshire police after he lawfully recorded the raid of his home in 2015. He was charged with violating a New Hampshire wiretapping law. He was fired from his job of 11 years because of his arrest and waited eight months for criminal prosecution before the case was dropped.
Because no law, including the wiretapping law, prohibited Valentin from videotaping the police, he retained attorney Richard Lehmann, who partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union, and sued the city. Lehmann said that Valentin couldn’t find a job because “the first thing anyone sees is he’s been arrested.”
The case settled in September 2017. Valentin agreed to accept $275,000, and the City of Manchester admitted no wrongdoing. Alderman Keith Hirschmann said that the settlement was only approved upon the advice of an attorney, who said the lawsuit could not be won. “We took her advice,” Hirschmann said. “I didn’t want to pay a dime.” That, despite the fact that city law enforcement personnel arrested a man for engaging in a lawful act and significantly damaged his reputation and financial well-being.
Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of the New Hampshire ACLU, said that the settlement sends a message to police. “The police need to understand that individuals who are recording their work without interference have a constitutional right to do so and it is not cause for their arrest,” Bissonnette said.
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