Miami photographer found not guilty of resisting arrest while covering Occupy protest

Ars Technica | Photography Is Not a Crime | Miami New Times
Miami photojournalist Carlos Miller was acquitted Wednesday of resisting an officer, after police tried to prevent him from covering an Occupy protest in January. Timothy B. Lee reports:

After Miller’s January arrest, the police confiscated his camera and deleted some of his footage, including video documenting his encounter with the police. That may prove to be an expensive mistake. Miller was able to recover the footage, which proved helpful in winning his acquittal. He says his next step will be to file a lawsuit charging that the deletion of the footage violated his constitutional rights.

Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin testified he’d been at the scene alongside Miller, and that arresting officer Nancy Perez had told Garvin he wouldn’t be arrested. Lee writes that “An e-mail disclosed during the trial showed the police had been monitoring Miller’s Facebook page and had sent out a notice warning officers in charge of evicting the Occupy Miami protestors that Miller was planning to cover the process.”

Miller obtained that email via a Freedom of Information Act request, Tim Elfrink reported in April.

The Garvin appearance represents a rapprochement of sorts between Miller and Miami’s paper of record, which he’d complained had misrepresented his record in a February piece on the arrest (The story is now missing from the Herald’s site.)

According to the account of the trial posted on Miller’s blog, Perez claimed “that I had called her names,” Miller writes.

[B]ut when my attorney, Arnold Trevilla, asked her what kind of names, she backtracked and said it was only me telling her to get the fuck out of my shot, which is not the same as calling her names.

Miller’s lawyer “stressed that it wasn’t the job of a journalist to meekly obey police orders.”

“When you’re a journalist, your job is to investigate,” [Santiago] Lavandera told the jury. “Not to be led by your hand where the police want you to see, so they can hide what they don’t want you to see. As long as you are acting within the law, as Mr. Miller was, you have the right to demand and say, ‘no, I’m not moving, I have the right to be here. This is a public sidewalk, I have the right to be here.’”

Perez directs Miami-Dade’s media relations unit and didn’t reply to a request for comment, Francisco Alvarado writes in a Miami New Times account of Miller’s acquittal. Miller told Alvarado he “doesn’t know Garvin personally.”

The charge Miller faced is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida, and can be punished by up to a year in jail.

Previously: Photographer complains Miami Herald misrepresented his criminal record | Miami-Dade police spokeswoman arrests photojournalist

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