The city of Boston recently settled a federal civil rights suit in which the city will pay Simon Glik $170,000 for damages and legal fees. In 2007 Glik used his cellular phone to videotape Boston police officers arresting a man on Boston Common. The Boston police then arrested Glik and he was charged with illegal wiretapping, aiding the escape of a prisoner, and disturbing the peace. After a Boston Municipal Court judge dismissed the criminal charges, Glik filed a civil rights suit with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union against the city of Boston and the arresting officers in federal court. In Glik v. Cunniffe 655 F.3d 78 (2011), the First Circuit held that the First Amendment protects the right to record police carrying out their duties in a public place. Glik’s attorney, David Milton, explains that the case is highly important because there have been a number of incidents in recent years involving citizens who were arrested for recording police officers performing their official duties in public. Milton notes, “As we see all around the country and world, images captured from people’s cellphones can have a remarkably important effect on public debate of public information. It is ultimately a tool of democracy.” In addition, the case will likely cause more police departments to instruct their officers on how to handle situations involving individuals who videotape police officers performing their official duties. For example, the city of Boston has developed a training video based on facts similar to the Glik case.
City of Boston Settles Police Videotaping Suit