A couple of days ago I put up a video of my interview with Patrick Jaicomo from the Institute for Justice about the Kansas newspaper raid. Now we have surveillance footage of the simultaneous raid of the newspaper owner’s home, showing the owner’s 98 year old mother confronting police officers while they were searching her home.
This is a West Virginia case – bodycam of a traffic stop for lack of an inspection sticker and warrantless arrest. This involves the Martinsburg Police Department and Patrolman Daniel Smith. The guy in the video, D.J. Beard, wants to file a lawsuit. You tell me, what do you think? Does he have a case, in your opinion? Mr. Beard was almost immediately arrested for allegedly refusing to get out of his car. Is that what the footage shows?
This is the same police department that pulled over, and arrested, Corey Lambert, as featured in another video (different officer though).
Here are the criminal case filings, including the charging documents, police report narrative, as well as the dismissal orders:
About 8 months ago I did a video on the Jacksonville, Florida traffic stop of Braxton Smith by Officer Peppers of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. After the bodycam footage hit the internet and the media, the agency received 14 complaints about the officer’s conduct, including a complaint by Mr. Smith. JSO Internal Affairs performed an investigation and the report has been released.
Here’s my original video with more of the uncensored footage.
Here’s another local TV news report on the same officer regarding the couple he was harassing over the window tint.
Here’s yet another local TV news report about him being aggressive and confrontational at traffic stops.
Police officers in Northhampton, Massachusetts, pulled a 60 year old woman over for a defective headlight. Within minutes of the traffic stop, she was violently pulled out of her car, slammed to the ground and then pepper sprayed. All criminal charges were subsequently dropped. The woman, who speaks English as a second language and had some difficulty communicating with the officers, has now hired a lawyer and is threatening to sue. Let’s go over the dash cam footage and see whether any constitutional violations occurred.
Police charged Driouech with assault and battery on a police officer, attempting to disarm a police officer, resisting arrest and refusing to identify herself, in addition to the lights violation, according to court documents. In his arrest report, Sellew alleged she tried to roll up her window and put her car in drive during the traffic stop, then resisted arrest when Sellew ordered her to step out of her car and grabbed his baton as he tried to take her down.However, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office soon dismissed all of those criminal charges against Driouech. She did admit to the broken headlight charge in court.
Here’s the raw clip with the violence:
Full RAW footage.
Yesterday, we filed two federal civil rights lawsuits against the City of Mount Hope, West Virginia and their former police officer, Aaron Shrewsbury. This small town of only about 1,000 people set up a notorious speed trap on a nearby four-lane highway. In what was apparently a cost-cutting measure, the local police chief got a disgraced and de-certified police officer, who had been previously fired for dishonesty from another department, re-certified with the state. That officer was Aaron Shrewsbury, who was finally exposed when my client, Brian Beckett, got pulled over for speeding last year while on his way home from work.
Here is where Officer Shrewsbury was decertified in 2015 for dishonesty:
Here are the details, police report, and original video from Brian’s traffic stop and arrest.
The second lawsuit alleges that Officer Shrewsbury punched another one of my client’s, Nathan Nelson, in the face with a closed fist while Nathan was handcuffed and in his custody, breaking Nathan’s jaw in two places and dislodging a tooth. Then he dumped Nathan in the back of another agency’s police cruiser.
Here are the details, police report and medical records from Nathan’s arrest.
Police officer Heather Weyker, of the St. Paul, Minnesota, Police Department, was found by the federal courts to have fabricated false charges against several dozen Somali refugees, including Hamdi Mohamud, who spent 2 years in prison for it. Hamdi is now represented by the Institute for Justice, who represents her in an almost decade-long lawsuit against Weyker, which so far has been unsuccessful. Believe it or not, Weyker is still working a six figure job at the St. Paul Police Department, despite having been adjudicated as a liar. Her attorney, Patrick Jaicomo, of the Institute for Justice, joined me to explain this insane story.
Even though the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found in 2016 that Officer Weyker had fabricated false charges against numerous individuals, the St. Paul Police Department used her in a recruiting video in 2017!
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Police arrested and detained several young people in Watertown, Wisconsin, on Saturday while they were preaching at a public drag queen event. Video circulated on social media showing multiple police officers arresting Marcus Schroeder as he was reading from the Bible. One officer was recorded aggressively pulling a microphone out of his hands and walking him away in handcuffs. Nick Proell, another young Christian, was detained and removed from the venue but later released with a warning. Is this a First Amendment violation?
It’s happened yet again. More innocent people ordered out of their cars due to police mistakenly believing the car was stolen – this time in Frisco, Texas. Police held a Black couple at gunpoint and handcuffed their son after mistyping their car’s license plate into their system, leading them to falsely believe the car the family was driving was stolen.
“We made a mistake,” Frisco Police Chief David Shilson said in the department’s later statement. “Our department will not hide from its mistakes. “Instead, we will learn from them.”
The last video I made on this issue was from Lehi, Colorado. Generally speaking, without more, police officers should not be aiming firearms at people. Reasonableness is the key. Aiming guns based on clerical entries and government policy is rarely going to be reasonable. Doing so should be based on actual perceived threats presented by the persons with whom they’re dealing.
Is there a protected First Amendment right to flip the bird, or give the middle finger, to police officers? This footage comes to us from Riverside, California from “Joshing U” on Youtube, showing his arrest, for what he claims was retaliation in response to his giving the middle finger to a California Highway Patrol officer. Back in April I did a video on the same topic, involving my client, Corey Lambert.
The protections of the First Amendment are not limited to spoken words, but rather include gestures and other expressive conduct, even if vulgar or offensive to some. For example, in Cohen v. California (1971), the Supreme Court held that an individual wearing a jacket bearing the words “F**k the Draft” in a courthouse corridor could not be prosecuted for disturbing the peace.
Consistent with this precedent, although “the gesture generally known as ‘giving the finger’ … is widely regarded as an offensive insult,” Bad Frog Brewery, Inc. v. N.Y. State Liquor Auth. , (2d Cir. 1998), it is a gesture that is generally protected by the First Amendment. See, e.g. , Cruise-Gulyas v. Minard (6th Cir. 2019) (“Any reasonable [police] officer would know that a citizen who raises her middle finger engages in speech protected by the First Amendment.”); Garcia v. City of New Hope (8th Cir. 2021) (“[Plaintiff’s] raising his middle finger at [a police officer] is a rude and offensive gesture but nonetheless, under current precedent, is a constitutionally protected speech activity.”); Batyukova v. Doege(5th Cir. 2021) (same); accord Swartz v. Insogna (2d Cir. 2013) (holding that giving the middle finger could not support arrest for disorderly conduct); see generally Ira P. Robbins, Digitus Impudicus: The Middle Finger and the Law , 41 U.C. DAVIS L. REV. 1403, 1407–08, 1434 (2008) (observing that the middle finger can express a variety of emotions—such as anger, frustration, defiance, protest, excitement—or even “possess[ ] political or artistic value”).
My client, Wendell Marcum, was arrested in his own front yard by deputies with the Brooke County Sherriff’s Department, for cursing during his interaction with them about a dog complaint. Yesterday we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in the Wheeling Division of the Northern District of West Virginia, alleging multiple violations of the Fourth Amendment, as well as the First Amendment. Can the police perform a warrantless arrest of a man standing in his own front yard, for cursing and asking them to leave his property?
The law is clearly established that an individual has a First Amendment right to express profanity during an interaction with law enforcement. See Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1972); see also Lewis v. City of New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130 (1974) (The U.S. Supreme Court reversed a conviction under a Louisiana statute that had provided that “It shall be unlawful and a breach of the peace for any person wantonly to curse or revile or to use obscene or opprobrious language toward or with reference to any member of the city police while in the actual performance of his duty.”).
The Supreme Court held in Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980) that, “absent exigent circumstances, an arrest in the home or curtilage area around the home must be accomplished by means of an arrest warrant….” In Rogers v. Pendleton, 249 F.3d 279 (4th Cir. 2001), the Fourth Circuit held that police officers must have probable cause plus either a warrant, or exigent circumstances, to perform a search or seizure within the curtilage of a person’s home, and that if asked to leave, officers are required to leave and seek a warrant.
Supreme Court jurisprudence extends heightened Fourth Amendment protections beyond just the interior of the home itself, but also to the “curtilage,” which is the “land immediately surrounding and associated with the home,” because the curtilage is “considered part of the home itself for Fourth Amendment purposes.” Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 180 (1984). The Fourth Circuit has made clear that a warrantless search of curtilage is presumed to be unreasonable. Covey v. Assessor of Ohio Cnty., 777 F.3d 186 (4th Cir. 2015).
WV law creates the possibility for a criminal charge (disorderly conduct) due to a subject’s expression of profanity where: (1) The person is in a “public place” and where he (2) Disturbs the peace of others by “violent, profane, indecent or boisterous conduct or language; and (3) is requested to desist by a law enforcement officer and doesn’t. The West Virginia Supreme Court held in 2015 that the word “others” in W. Va. Code Section 61-6-1b (“disorderly conduct”) does not include law enforcement officers, but rather than some other third party must be present and actually offended by the subject’s conduct, in order to commit the criminal offense of “disorderly conduct.” Maston v. Wagner, 781 S.E.2d 936 (W. Va. 2015).
Here’s the filed complaint: