Phillips v. City of Newark

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the Seton Hall Law School Center for Social Justice filed a lawsuit on March 28, 2011, against the Newark Police Department on behalf of Khaliah Fitchette, who was illegally detained and searched after she refused to turn off a cellphone she used to record video footage of Newark police officers. On March 22, 2010, Fitchette was riding a New Jersey Transit bus downtown when a man slid off his seat and onto the floor. The bus pulled over and two Newark Police officers boarded. One police officer noticed Fitchette using her cellphone to record the incident and ordered her to turn it off. Fitchette, who was 16 years old at the time, refused to turn off the phone. The officer grabbed Fitchette by the wrist and pulled her off the bus. Fitchette was handcuffed and placed in the patrol car. During the ride to a juvenile detention and then an adult detention facility, the otherpolice officer erased the cellphone recording. After the officers realized they had no basis to arrest or charge Fitchette, they brought her to her mother's workplace in Newark. In the Fall of 2012 the ACLU-NJ settled this case with the city of Newark. In addition to the settlement, Police Director Samuel A. DeMaio has 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.

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