A North Carolina woman is demanding answers after being arrested for photographing an officer arresting a man on her property. Rebecca Price, from Long View, NC., was on her property when she photographed officer Douglas Marlowe conducting an arrest of a man who damaged a fence on her property. According to Marlowe, Price was resisting by “not complying with the officer’s commands to stop taking photos and refusing to give the officer her cell phone for evidence.”
A magistrate issued an arrest warrant for Price at the request of Marlowe. The language of the warrant also indicates that Price was resisting officers. Apparently that magistrate believed taking the photographs was criminal and merited arrest signing off on the warrant.
When asked about the behavior of the magistrate in the case, Chief District Court Judge Buford Cherry, who supervises magistrates, refrained from throwing the magistrate under the bus. The judge did not comment whether the magistrate’s actions were appropriate or not.
The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts spokesperson towed the line with the chief district judge declining to comment on the magistrate’s actions. The spokeswoman did not confirm that officials acted properly in ordering Price’s arrest on the basis of her exercising her First Amendment right to take photos.
The charge against the woman was later dropped in November after coming across the district attorney’s desk. DA David Learner dismissed the charges against Price writing on the ruling that Price’s conduct was not a crime.
Long View Police Department’s chief, Michael Winters, did not accept any responsibility or admit any culpability. The chief avoided speaking to the press directly in regards to the case deferring to a statement that he released. Winters did admit over the phone that Price’s actions were not criminal but did not provide reasoning for the arrest warrant.
Despite Winter’s reported admission that Price’s actions were legal Price alleges a different conversation was had between the pair.
“What really upsets me is the fact that the Chief just laughed it off,” she said.
Price added that she has yet to receive an apology from the police department.
Federal appeals courts across the country have ruled that citizens have a First Amendment right to capture video of police officers in a public setting.