Life isn’t easy for photojournalists and it’s made all the much more difficult by authorities and civilians alike who barely understand most laws around photography – especially in public spaces.
Avi Adelman recently won a settlement from the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system, also known as DART, after he was arrested for photographing paramedics trying to rescue a person having a drug overdose.
The settlement sum was for $USD 345k which is both fairly hefty and should serve as a pretty expensive lesson in a photographer’s rights in public spaces.
The incident that Adelman was photographing occurred in February 2016 and he was charged with criminal trespass by a DART officer after being asked to stop photographing the paramedics while they attempted their rescue.
The criminal trespass charge comes from Adelman’s lack of a DART pass and, further, his being on “private” property owned by the transit system.
The charges were dropped against Adelman and the officer involved was disciplined but he moved forward separately with a lawsuit against the transit system which resulted in the settlement discussed above.
While a range of arguments were offered, judges agreed with Adelman’s side of things and, rather than face a protracted court battle, DART decided to settle the case instead.
Adelman said in a statement about the settlement: “I was arrested – and spent a day in jail – on a bogus ‘throw-down’ charge of criminal trespass for one reason only: To stop me from taking photographs of paramedics treating a patient in public view on public property, which is a lawful activity and not a HIPAA violation…The subjective personal opinions of LEO personnel should never be allowed to interfere with lawful and protected First Amendment activities.”
You can watch a video of the arrest by clicking here.
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