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Khaliah Fitchette was going to downtown Newark with friends on a New Jersey Transit bus after school on March 22, 2010. When the bus rolled down a hill, a man fell from his seat and into the aisle, creating a scene. The driver pulled over and called Newark Police for assistance, and Fitchette, who began recording the incident on her cellphone. When two officers boarded, one officer ordered Fitchette to turn off her phone to prevent any videos from appearing online. Fitchette refused; she didn't want to miss any incoming calls.
Police handcuffed Fitchette and deleted the video from her cellphone, ignoring her pleas to call her mother. They held her for more than an hour before releasing her to her mother. Almost a year after the ordeal, she sued the Newark Police Department.
After the lawsuit was filed, Newark Police issued a training memorandum that affirms the rights of citizens to record police officers performing their duties and makes clear that officers cannot confiscate, delete, or demand to view a citizen’s photos or video without a warrant. The memorandum was issued in November 2011, as Fitchette’s lawsuit was pending.
The department will train officers on the new policy.