A Long View woman is demanding accountability from the town’s police department after she was arrested by a police officer for taking picture of the officer arresting a man who damaged a fence on her property.
Rebecca Price was arrested by officer Douglas Marlowe in August.
A magistrate issued an order for Price’s arrest at Marlowe’s request. The warrant accuses Price of resisting a public officer.
The warrant says Price resisted the officer “by not complying with officers (sic) commands to stop taking photos and refusing to give the officer her cell phone for evidence.”
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.
In Price’s case, she was on her own property when she took pictures of Marlowe.
Despite that, a Catawba County magistrate signed a warrant for Price’s arrest on the basis that she took pictures of a police officer.
Chief District Court Judge Buford Cherry, who supervises magistrates, refused to say whether the magistrate acted appropriately in signing the warrant for Price’s arrest.
A spokeswoman for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts also did not answer questions about whether court officials acted properly in ordering Price’s arrest on the basis of her exercising her First Amendment right to take photos.
The charge against Price was dropped in November after District Attorney David Learner found out about the charge. On the court paperwork dismissing the charge, Learner wrote that her conduct was not a crime.
Long View Police Chief Michael Winters refused to talk with WBTV on camera to explain why his officer charged Price with a crime for taking pictures of an arrest. But on the phone, Winters acknowledged that Price’s behavior was not criminal.
But Price said she had a different conversation with Winters.
“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.
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