Photojournalist Sued for Publishing Images of Undercover Officers That LAPD Mistakenly Gave Him


A photojournalist is being sued by the city of Los Angeles for publishing hundreds of images of undercover officers that were accidentally given to him by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

The city of Los Angeles sued documentary photographer and journalist Ben Camacho earlier this month after the LAPD mistakenly gave him a roster that contained photos of undercover police officers.

The Daily Beast reports that after receiving the photos, Camacho, who is a reporter for Knock LA, provided the images to the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, which published them online.

Lawyers for the city of Los Angeles are alleging that the release of names, photos, and serial numbers of more than 9,000 LAPD officers in response to a public records request and related litigation filed by Camacho was “inadvertent.”

The attorneys are suing Camacho on the grounds that his publication of the photographs of these LAPD officers who serve in undercover assignments posed a safety risk to them.

“The City seeks the return of these inadvertently produced photos to protect the lives and work of these undercover officers,” Los Angeles’ attorneys wrote.

The city of Los Angeles has also sued the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition group for posting the images and is seeking to have the officers’ photos removed from the Coalition’s website.


However, on Tuesday lawyers for Camacho filed a motion asking a judge to toss out the city’s lawsuit against him and dismiss the case as unconstitutional and retaliatory.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Camacho’s motion alleges that the litigation is a so-called SLAPP lawsuit — an improper lawsuit used by public officials as a way to censor or intimidate someone from exercising their free speech.

“Mr. Camacho did nothing wrong. He relied on the City’s statement that the Photographs included no ‘undercover’ officers,” the photojournalist’s lawsuit states.

“He had the right under the state and federal constitutions to petition the City for those records and publish them on the internet after the City gave them to him.

“The Photographs have been spread far and wide on the internet. Nothing the City or this Court can do will get those Photographs out of the public domain.”

Camacho’s attorney Susan Seage says a hearing is scheduled for August 2, but she hopes the lawsuit will be dismissed sooner.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.