ACLU, Baltimore police reach $25K settlement for man who recorded officers at Preakness

As part of a settlement with a man who was prevented from videotaping an arrest and the ACLU, the Baltimore Police Department will no longer prevent people from taking videos of its officers.

It started with a cell phone video of an arrest made at the Preakness back in May of 2010

Christopher Sharp was at the Preakness that day when city police officers were arresting a female friend. 

The officers seized sharp's camera -- and even deleted some videos of him and his only child.

The ACLU got involved with the case, believing Sharp's civil rights had been violated.

At a news conference on Wednesday, City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he agreed.

“We're getting it wrong, and we have been getting it wrong. Today we proudly renew our commitment go constitutional policing,” he said.

Batts was not the commissioner in 2010 when the incident happened; he said the department's new policy is clear:  “The citizens have the right to film us. They have the right to videotape us. They have a right to watch us.”

“Commissioner Batts being here today, that means a lot to me. It really does; it shows his character,” Sharp said.

Sharp also said the Baltimore County Police Department's response to an incident last month in Towson, in which a man was prevented from taking video of officers, shows that attitudes are changing.

"Their immediate response was that it was not OK for the police officer to do what he did,” Sharp said.  “Three or four years ago I don't think they would have answered that question the same way.”

Christopher Sharp and the ACLP reached a settlement with the city police department, leading to the policy change.  Along with a written apology, sharp got a $25,000 settlement.

“This was not about the money,” he said.  “This was about making change, and that's what we've done.”

The commissioner said allowing people to record their activities will now be part of police officers' training.  He also said if an officer violates the policy other officers are now required to report it.

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