Can I Take a Picture of Police Making an Arrest?

Can I take a picture of Police Making an Arrest?

For certain the answer is yes. The issue is what will the police officers do to you once they see you taking the picture, and what remedy you have against the police? There are two separate actions the police can take that may be actionable. If they assault you and/or break your camera. If they can arrest you for something.

If the police assault you, you have a claim for excessive force against the officers.

If the police arrest you, you have a claim for malicious prosecution.

In either instance, you may have a Monell Claim, that the police are failing to train their officers that people can photograph them arresting people.

I would guess the most common claim for these cases is some type of malicious prosecution where the plaintiff is being charged with disorderly conduct and winds up beating the case. The problem is that for a disorderly conduct only, the case is probably not worth much money. However, an Order from a judge directing the police to better train the officers on photographs and a cash award would be a very good outcome.


police brutality case

What makes a good police brutality case?

Potential clients always ask me, “What makes a good police brutality case?” Damages. Good damages makes a good police brutality case.

I have clients all the time tell me about some of the most outrageous police conduct. Then I ask, “what is your worst injury?” The answer to that question that controls how much your case is worth.

I recently had a potential client tell me how the police beat her until she was almost unconscious. They struck her multiple times while she was cuffed, etc. She went to the hospital. I asked her, “what was the single worst injury you suffered?” Her reply, “I had bruises all over my body and the doctor gave me an advil.” That case isn’t so great because there is no way the police officers beat her the way she claimed and she only has those injuries. If the police really hit her that many times, her injuries would be far more severe. In her case, damages can be used to make out liability. Without the injuries, the other side will defend liability based on damages. Not such a great case.

In another case, a potential client told me that he got into an argument with a police officer and the officer hit him one time in the face with a closed fist, then tased him while he was on the ground. The officer arrest him for disorderly conduct, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest. The client was in a coma and had four broken bones. The criminal case was withdrawn by the DAs office. That is a good police brutality case.

What I have written is not the end all be all. There are many situations where my client has no physical injury at all and they have a great cases. We have been very successful on false imprisonment and malicious prosecution cases where there is no physical injury at all. Look at the conduct of the police officer and analyze the result.

Malicious Prosecution

Malicious Prosecution in 42 USC 1983 Cases

What do I have to show to be successful for Malicious Prosecution in 42 USC 1983 Cases?

In these cases, the following elements must all be proved by the Plaintiff: (1) prosecution for a criminal offense; (2) instigated without probable cause; (3) with malice; (4) under a valid warrant, accusation or summons; (5) which has terminated favorably to the plaintiff; and (6) has damaged the plaintiff.

The standard may seem like a heavy burden to prove, but its not. You basically have to beat your criminal case entirely and show that you can real damages as a result of the arrest or prosecution.

An example is where you are on probation for something somewhat serious and you were fully compliant with probation and had no technical or direct violations of your probation. You are arrested for something that you did not do and charged and prosecuted. You were having an argument with an off duty cop over a parking space, and he called his fellow police officers–they arrested you for assaulting them. After the new arrest, the probation officer decides to put a detainer on you because of the new arrest. You are then held in custody on the detainer until the new open case is resolved. You didn’t do anything wrong, so you decide to demand your right to a jury trial. Because you want a jury trial, it takes a year for you to go to trial. You sit in jail for the entire year because of the detainer that was lodged against you because of your arrest. You go to trial and you are found not guilty. The day after the not guilty verdict, you are released from custody.

In the above example, you have a malicious prosecution claim. You were prosecuted for a criminal offense, there was no probable cause, the officer arrested you with malice, it was a real arrest, you won, and you sat in jail for a year.