DURHAM, NC (June 18, 2014) –National Press Photographers Association member Philip Datz yesterday won a major settlement from the Suffolk County Police Department in a civil rights suit stemming from Datz’s arrest while filming law enforcement activity on a public street.
Under the terms of the settlement, Suffolk County agreed to pay Datz $200,000, implement a new training program (including a training video), and create a Police-Media Relations Committee.
The NPPA, attorneys from the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine (DWT), and the New York Civil Liberties Union worked with Datz, a freelance videographer, to file a federal lawsuit after Suffolk County prosecutors dropped charges resulting from his 2011 arrest.
In July of 2011 Datz was filming police activity from a public sidewalk when Suffolk County Police Sergeant Michael Milton confronted him (video), demanding he leave the area immediately. Datz was wearing his press credentials at the time and was standing near several other onlookers, who were not asked to leave. Although no police lines had been established, Datz complied and then drove a block away. He was filming from there when Sergeant Milton came speeding up in his police cruiser, placed Datz under arrest for obstruction of governmental administration, and seized his camera and videotape.
Read more about the case and the settlement in NPPA’s Advocacy Blog, online here.