With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, Michael Picard is suing three state police officers for allegedly giving him false charges and taking his camera without a warrant at a police checkpoint in 2015.
The complaint, filed on Sept. 15, 2016, reads, “Picard was protesting near a police DUI checkpoint in West Hartford. Barone approached him under the pretext of public complaints and confiscated Picard’s legally-carried pistol and pistol permit.” The troopers, John Barone, Patrick Torneo, and John Jacobi, took Picard’s camera after claiming that filming the police was illegal. Much to the dismay of the troopers, the camera was still rolling when they were discussing what courses of action to take.
“With the camera rolling, the officers proceeded to: call a Hartford police officer to see if he or she had any “grudges” against Picard; open an investigation of him in the police database; and discuss a separate protest that he had organized at the state capitol. After Barone announced “we gotta cover our a**,” either Torneo or Jacobi stated “let’s give him something,” and the three settled on fabricating two criminal infraction tickets that they issued to Picard. Torneo drove away with Picard’s camera on top of his cruiser, upon which the camera fell onto the hood of the car, Torneo stopped, and Jacobi returned the camera to Picard.”
Picard stated that what the three troopers did that night was an infringement on his free speech.
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“As an advocate for free speech, I’m deeply disappointed that these police officers ignored my rights, particularly because two of the troopers involved were supervisors who should be setting an example for others,” he said.
“As the video shows, these police officers were more concerned with thwarting Mr. Picard’s free speech and covering their tracks than upholding the law,” said ACLU-CT legal director Dan Barrett, who will be representing Picard in the lawsuit.
Watch the full video below.