PITTSBURGH – The Point Marion Police Department has paid $65,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania on behalf of a Fayette County man who was arrested in 2012 for using his cell phone to audio-record a police officer.
“We hope that this case helps educate other police departments about the right of citizens to record and observe police officers on the job,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Recording police is a check on the extraordinary power they have in our society.”
The suit alleged that the Point Marion Police Department filed retaliatory charges against Gregory Rizer after he complained to the mayor about the officer, who confiscated his cell phone and detained him for recording the officer's aggressive questioning of his disabled friend. The charge was withdrawn by the district attorney and the cell phone was returned - without the recording.
Rizer was charged with violating the state wiretapping law, which forbids audio recording without the consent of all parties involved. According to the lawsuit, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the state's Wiretap Act does not apply if the person being recorded does not have a reasonable "expectation of privacy."
“Rizer’s experience shows what happens when police officers try to shield their conduct from public scrutiny,” said Glen Downey, one of Rizer’s attorneys. “No one should be subjected to retaliation for simply documenting a police officer’s public acts.”
Read more about the case, including the original complaint, at: /our-work/legal/legaldocket/rize-v-lukart/