NJ Teen Videotapes Confrontation with Police Officer, Family Sues – Valid Lawsuit? [POLL/VIDEO]
The question here is simple: do you this police officer was being overaggressive in handling one 15 year old kid who was taping the confrontation he was having with the cop?
Overall, do you have a right to tape a confrontation you’re about to have with a police officer?
It would depend on the circumstances, of course, but in this scenario, a teen and some friends from Hanover Township were walking through a local park just after dusk…according to them, not realizing that there was a curfew at the park, when a plainclothes police officer in a black unmarked cruiser came upon them.
15 year old Austin DeCaro followed the police officers orders, save one, to turn off his camcorder which he carries with him at all times.
"He got out of a car and said, 'All of you get on the curb,' and none of us knew what to do, so I flipped on my camera," said Austin DeCaro, a teenage videographer,
"I saw this random guy telling us to sit on the curb and I didn't know if he was a cop or not. I decided I should record it."
"I gave him my name and he realized I had a camera and he said, 'turn that off.'" DeCaro said.
"Turn that video camera off right now or it's going to be mine, forever," the officer said on the video.
"Why?" DeCaro is heard asking.
"And I asked why, and he tackled me to the ground, handcuffed me, threw my camera, and arrested me," DeCaro said.
The camera, down on the ground, still recorded the sound.
"Why are you being so mean?" DeCaro is heard saying on the video.
"Were you resisting, were you mouthing off, were you being rude, anything like that?" Eyewitness News Investigative reporter Sarah Wallace asked.
"I told him he was mean after, but that was after I got tackled," DeCaro said.
"Now, you're going to get charged, now your parents are going to come," the officer said on the video.
"For what, for having a video camera on?" DeCaro asked.
DeCaro's parents were stunned.
"They were going to charge him with obstruction, vandalism, being in the park after dark," said Anthony DeCaro, Austin's father.
Then, the videotape was shown to the chief.
"They dropped all the charges except for being in the park," Anthony DeCaro said.
"And I'm sure glad my son was rolling the video camera or he would have had a whole mess of charges that were just lies," said Lois DeCaro, Austin's mother.
The police department declined to comment because the DeCaro family has now filed a lawsuit.
And with that, can you say “cha-ching!?”
Officer overreacting to a kid with a video camera charging him with practically every crime imaginable.
You may be thinking “punk kid”…why not just follow the advice of the cop…but don’t you feel the cop overreacted…and more importantly, do you feel the family has grounds for a lawsuit?
According to Bryan Konoski, the DeCaro family's attorney, the fact that Austin was taping the entire confrontation enraged the cop.
"And this officer didn't like it and he jumped on Austin in response. That's illegal, inappropriate, and the excessive use of force."
Do you feel the DeCaro family has a valid lawsuit against the Hanover Township Police Department?