In every state, filming police officers is perfectly lawful. However, police officers often overstep their power and arrest, abuse, and assault innocent persons for the constitutionally permitted act of photographing their actions in public. As the following New Orleans case demonstrates, police officers would go to tremendous and often violent measures to avoid being videotaped, even assaulting and fraudulently detaining an innocent man.
Jacobi Cage had done nothing wrong, committed no crime, and was only photographing police officers who had just broken up a brawl during a parade on the night he was detained and assaulted by police. Innocence, on the other hand, did not constitute a defence.
Cage was recording when he was instructed to move aside by an unnamed officer. Cage listened to the deputy and took a few steps back, but this was evidently insufficient for Det. Nicholas Broussard, who was so incensed by Cage's First Amendment privilege that he knocked the phone out of Cage's hand, sending it flying behind him.
Broussard gave Cage the bird and went away after attacking him and trashing his belongings for good measure. While it is legal to flip the bird, we have witnessed officers arrest individuals for it on several occasions. However, Broussard's blue brothers opted to overlook his bird-flipping and were only aware when Cage reciprocated the gesture.
While Cage is giving Broussard the middle finger, his blue brothers' attack. Sgt. Keith Dowling of the JPSO takes Cage by the shirt and drags him over the mesh barrier, slamming him face-first onto the pavement.
Cops then swarm Cage like a pack of wolves, punching, kicking, and kneeing him — all in the name of filming.
"The cops immediately apprehended me and began hitting me," Cage said. "I was suffering from a split lip. My nose was asymmetrical. They reinjured my rotator cuff, which was damaged in football. I had the distinct impression that they were ready to yank my arm off."
Downing would later allege in the arrest report that Cage launched a punch at the officer, forcing him to assault and arrest him. Additionally, Downing omitted to add that his partner cop smacked Cage's phone out of his hand. However, unlike Downing, the video does not lie.
Cage had no knowledge that the video of his detention existed until after he was detained and eventually freed from jail – facing six months in prison for striking an officer. His word was sufficient against the crooked officer.
As reported on Nola.com:
Cage was freed with a summons after several hours in the parish prison. That night, he came home feeling enraged and powerless. Cage, a graduate of Destrehan High School, had never been involved in a court dispute before. Now, he faced up to six months in prison.
As he laid in bed that night, Cage came across a video on Twitter titled: Man merely filming was beaten and detained for nothing.
Cage pressed play. He stated he started to weep out of relief and disbelief as he watched the 38-second footage, which has been seen over 284,000 times.
Although the footage would demonstrate Cage's innocence, the police department was unconcerned. They continued with the lawsuit. According to Cage's attorney, Stephen Haedicke, the Sheriff's Office continued to try to use the criminal prosecution as leverage to coerce Cage into accepting a lesser settlement in a lawsuit launched by Cage. Regrettably, it succeeded.
It would take the district attorney two years to eventually dismiss the charges. And then, 10 months later, in October, Cage's case would be resolved for a meagre $40,000 in damages. When questioned by Nola.com whether justice had been served, Cage said emphatically, "No."
A guy who was only filming was assaulted and detained for no reason.
— Chubbs (@chubbs504) February 14, 2019