10th Circuit: Right to record police is clearly established under First Amendment

The Denver Gazette: A federal appeals court said in a ruling Monday that recording police encounters is a clearly established constitutional right in Colorado, reversing a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a journalist who claims a Lakewood officer prevented him from recording a DUI stop. 

Abade Irizarry, identified as a blogger and YouTube journalist, sued Lakewood police officer Ahmed Yehia in federal court over an incident from May 2019, saying Yehia stood in front of his camera’s lens and shined his flashlight directly at it to prevent him from recording an early-morning DUI stop. Other journalists were also at the scene, according to the lawsuit. Irizarry claimed Yehia also drove his patrol car directly at Irizarry before swerving and honking.

A magistrate dismissed Irizarry’s case, reasoning that although Irizarry had alleged a violation of his First Amendment rights based on prior restraint and retaliation, a right to record police officers had not been clearly established in the 10th Circuit at the time and so Yehia was entitled to qualified immunity.

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