Reno man files lawsuit after being arrested for filming police
RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A Reno man is attempting to file a lawsuit against the Reno Police Department after he was unlawfully arrested.
On the evening of August 22, Walter England was walking through downtown Reno on the corner of West 2nd and N Virginia, where he spent several minutes filming a police investigation. England approached two Reno Police vehicles. The first vehicle was occupied by officer Gautier. Gautier and England exchange hellos and England moves on to the next car. He then stopped at the passenger side window of the second car with his phone present, recording officer Hoyt.
“Can I help you with something?” Hoyt asked. England continued recording while asking the officer what was going on with the crime scene. Hoyt asked England to step away from his vehicle and advised he was on a personal call.
“This is our vehicle, the city’s vehicle,” responded England.
According to England, the officer told the person on the call that he would call them back, then suddenly jumped out of the vehicle and approached England where he said he was interfering with the investigation. Continuing to keep his phone between himself and Officer Hoyt, England asked how he was interfering when he was then arrested without cause. The whole event was caught on camera.
England is the founder of the YouTube channel Sacramento Crimewatch where he takes video surveilling law enforcement personnel and other public servants. He says he’s out all the time making content.
“Abuse from the officers is always happening. So, we’re out recording to make sure that doesn’t happen,” England says.
The right to film police officers conducting their work in public view has been argued in courts across the country as a First Amendment issue for years. Under Nevada law (NRS 171.1233), the public has the right to film police officers as long as the person filming is on public property and not obstructing the investigation.
This isn’t an isolated event either, the same thing happened while England was out filming for Sacramento Crimewatch on September 18, making that two unlawful arrests within a month.
“I don’t feel safe at all,” England says.
Charges were never filed and a court date was never set, but the arrest prompted England to file a lawsuit, alleging he was falsely arrested. England wants to set an example that his arrests are not ok and if it’s happening to him, he feels, there’s more like him out there.
The Reno Police Department has yet to give a response.
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