Police officers in Hemet, California, are facing a federal civil rights lawsuit after arresting three members of a family, including a grandmother, who filmed them in public. Video shows cops yelling vulgar abuse while roughing up three members of the family after they began filming the search of their vehicle. Reason Magazine's C.J. Ciaramella:
Cell phone videos from both women appear to show yet another instance of police retaliating and arresting people for filming them. Federal appeals courts have repeatedly upheld the First Amendment right to film the police, so long as one doesn't interfere with their duties, but cases of illegal arrests still pop up around the country.
The officer did not warn her to back up or issue any other command. After he approaches, the video goes black, followed by several minutes of Hereford screaming in pain on the ground. At one point the officer is heard yelling, "Shut the fuck up!" Her children can also be heard crying hysterically in the background.
Then the cops beat the family's dogs—chained up and harmless—as if to remind the gathered onlookers what happens to nosy neighbors. The Hemet Press–Enterprise's Brian Rokos reports that no charges were ever filed and the search turned up nothing that might be incriminating had the search not been illegal.
When the women began filming, the lawsuit says, an officer retaliated by knocking the phone from the hand of Mariah Hereford before knocking her down. A second officer then forced the phone out of Monett Hereford's hand and threw her up against Gadison's car.
Additionally, three dogs were tethered by 4-foot chains to their doghouses "outside the range of the HPD officers," the lawsuit says, yet one officer picked up one dog and threw the animal to the ground and another officer beat another dog with his baton.
The lawsuit says Gadison and Mariah Hereford were arrested and Monett Hereford was cited. No charges have been filed, according to Riverside County Superior Court records.