Photog Awarded $200K for Unlawful Arrest, Prompts the Creation of an Officer Training Program

Three years ago, in late July of 2011, freelance news photographer Philip Datz was arrested by the Suffolk County Police Department in New York for “obstruction of governmental administration” because he was recording the conclusion of a police chase from a safe distance away.

Last we told you about the case, the police were dropping the charges and officers were going to have to go through “media relations training,” but the case has gone much further than that in the intervening three years.

Datz decided to sue the police department after the incident, a case that just this week was settled for the whopping amount of $200,000, and then some.

The ‘and then some’ has to do with that ‘media relations training’ we mentioned, which has been turned into a full-fledged training program that all Suffolk County Police Department officers will have to go through in order to familiarize them with “the constitutional right of the public and press to observe, photograph and record police activity in locations open to the public.”

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The settlement was approved yesterday and, as you might expect, Datz was thrilled with the results. He’s making a ‘generous donation’ to the National Press Photographers Association defense fund, and gave the NPPA the following statement:

This settlement is a victory for the First Amendment and for the public good. When police arrest journalists just for doing their job, it creates a chilling effect that jeopardizes everyone’s ability to stay informed about important news in their community. Journalists have a duty to cover what the police are doing, and the police should follow the law and respect the First Amendment to ensure they can do that.

As PDN points out, the downside of this settlement is that the SCPD and Suffolk County admit no wrongdoing, but that’s a small point when you weigh it against the other results of the settlement.

To find out more, head over to the NPPA website by clicking here.

(via PDN)

  • Dylan Cyr

    “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, there’s nothing you can hold over my head.”


  • SeoulFood

    Sadly, this cop probably retired and doesn’t have to sit through the county funded and filmed training videos. Way to screw your fellow officers.

  • spiralphoto

    “the downside of this settlement is that the SCPD and Suffolk County admit no wrongdoing”
    I’m almost convinced this is a job requirement.

  • OtterMatt

    Hey, he’s off the streets either way. That’s a win for everyone.

  • Chris Cheek


  • Bill Lescallette


  • gorbo

    I need $200,000.

  • Mielke J Michael

    Really? Nobody else is gonna pick up the fact that there’s an error in this article? Am I going to have to be the language nazi here? Oh well, so what is the actual amount? $2,000,000 or $200,000 DL Cade? Because in the article you have written, the amount shows as 200,0000 … as far as I know that’s not an actual amount of anything. Where was your editor on this one?

  • Korios

    Police “service” at its best..

  • Dave Brosseau

    While yes, they added an extra zero in the body of the article, it’s pretty clear what the amount was. The headline specifically says 200k.

  • Lambert Schlumpf

    Yeah, but who pays the 200K in the end?

  • Greg Heller

    That cop looks like a penis with a badge — he needed to make himself feel important by bullying you in front of the other cops, and he also was having a bad hair day, didn’t want to get caught on camera on the 11:00 news. He was also pissed that you screwed up the opportunity for them to give the suspect a wood shampoo.

  • Brandon

    As a Suffolk County resident (the incident happened by my office actually), I’ll be paying part of that $200k. I am sure that Sergeant is sitting home collecting his pension by now… and with a salary of around $200k/yr for a Sgt of that many years on the force, I am sure it’s a nice one.

  • davenportbeatriz

    Allison .
    although Jessica `s article is really great… on sunday I got Mitsubishi Evo
    after bringing in $5772 this-last/5 weeks an would you believe ten grand last
    munth . without a question it is the nicest-job I’ve ever done . I started
    this five months/ago and immediately was bringin in at least $85 per hour .
    learn this here now

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  • Lambert Schlumpf

    Exactly, I don’t understand why everybody is happy, then.
    Is it because the guy got $200k that the citizenship will have to pay anyway? Reading the comments it seems that we understood it only in 2 so far. Sad.

  • woofa

    Given the population of Suffolk County this won’t even cost each taxpayer $1, for the settlement. It’s a pretty minimal sum. Yes, the downside to public workers creating a situation where a suit arises is that the taxpayers are the ones that have to pay for it.

  • woofa

    It would be big news if any public employee or agency ever admitted to any wrongdoing.

  • marcusgascon

    Parker . I can see
    what your saying… Margaret `s bl0g is impressive, last thursday I bought a
    great Porsche 911 from having made $8447 this past month an would you believe
    10 grand this past month . this is certainly the most-comfortable job I’ve
    ever had . I began this nine months/ago and pretty much immediately began to
    bring home over $77, per-hour . Learn More http://www.works77.ℂℴm

  • Michael Plumides

    I don’t want to watch the video unless it ends with a knee to the neck like on COPS… but it’s a knee to the COP’S neck.

  • jkantor267

    Admitting wrongdoing is the only thing that counts. They have insurance to pay the settlement, and the officers will get a couple of days of paid jerk-off time in the classroom – and then find ways to do what they do without getting caught.

  • Richard Ford

    He should give it all to charity or back to the govt. Way to go ripping off your fellow tax payers. It;s one thing to sue a private entity – but to sue the govt and receive absurd payment above and beyond any actual loss is ridiculous. And selfish. But good on him for fighting – now do the right thing with the money or be no better than those lousy public fund sucking cops.