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Justice Dept. Sides With Man Suing Baltimore Police In Recording Suit

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore Police delete video of a controversial arrest at the Preakness from a man’s cell phone. Now, he’s suing and he’s got a powerful new ally.

Monique Griego explains what could be a deciding factor in this case.

In an unprecedented move, the Department of Justice has released an 18-page statement of interest asking a judge to side with that man who shot the video.

A woman was laying in a pool of blood as she’s arrested at Preakness.

Chris Sharp shot video of the controversial arrest by Baltimore City Police before his phone was taken.

“The way it was explained to me is that it was evidence and I had to give it to them,” Sharp, who is suing the city police department, said. “And the guy actually said, ‘That’s what you get for taping it.'”

When he got it back, the video was gone. He’s suing the police for violating his rights.

Now, the Department of Justice is asking a judge to rule in his favor.

In a statement, attorneys say: “The right to record police officers while performing duties in a public place, as well as the right to be protected from the warrantless seizure and destruction of those recordings, are not only required by the Constitution, they are consistent with our fundamental notions of liberty.”

“It’s the first time that we’re aware that they’ve spoken out about this issue,” Meredith Curtis of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said.

The ACLU says this is a cutting edge problem that needs attention.

With video cameras on nearly every new cell phone, the ACLU says it’s seeing more and more cases just like this one.

In 2010, a motorcyclist faced criminal charges for taping a state trooper during a traffic stop. The ACLU won that case.

“It’s important for police departments to get a strong message that the First Amendment matters,” Curtis said.

Baltimore City Police have developed training protocols for similar situations. But the Justice Department says that isn’t good enough.

The ACLU is asking for a comprehensive policy in the police department that addresses an individual’s rights to record police officers in public.

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