Court Rules Americans Have The Right to Film Police in Public

US citizens have the right to film police performing their duties, a three-judge panel of judges from the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled, overturning a Philadelphia court decision against two people who filmed on-duty police.

Writing the opening opinion for Friday’s ruling was Judge Thomas Ambro, who cited the famous Rodney King case from 1991, when Los Angeles police were filmed beating King. Judge Ambro said that “filming police on the job was rare then, but common now.”

“These recordings have both exposed police misconduct and exonerated officers from errant charges,” he said. Ambro added that “this increase in the observation, recording and sharing of police activity has contributed greatly to our national discussion of proper policing.”

This latest judgement overturns the year-old controversial ruling from the lower US district court level in Philadelphia. Last year, Judge Mark Kearney found no free speech violations in two instances of citizens recording police officers. The incidents in question relate to Amanda Geraci who was pushed to the ground by an officer in 2012 after attempting to take photos during an anti-fracking protest, and Richard Fields, who was arrested in 2013 after filming police as they broke up a college party.

Kearney’s ruling had declared that since neither Garaci nor Fields offered a reason for filming, they did not have the First Amendment right to do so, according to court documents from 2016.

The Philadelphia Police Department, however, already had a memorandum for officers that instructed them to not interfere if a citizen is filming them on the job.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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