Copwatch Wins Big in Atlanta | City Council Rules Video Taping not a Crime

APD won’t hinder citizens who videotape cops

Bill Rankin|The Atlanta Journal

Copwatch members are (from left) Jenell Holden, Connor Gillis, Marlon Kautz, and Vincent Castillenti. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

Faced with complaints from a citizen watchdog group, Atlanta police will stop interfering with people who videotape officers performing their duties in public, an agreement reached with the city Thursday says.

The settlement, which also calls for the city to pay $40,000 in damages, requires city council approval.

The agreement resolves a complaint filed by Marlon Kautz and Copwatch of East Atlanta, a group that films police activity with cell phones and hand-held cameras. The group has volunteers who go out on patrols and begin videotaping police activity when they come across it.

Last April, Kautz said, he pulled out his camera phone and began recording Atlanta police who were arresting a suspect in Little Five Points. Two officers approached him and said he had no right to be filming them, Kautz said. When Kautz refused to stop, one officer wrenched Kautz’s arm behind his back and yanked the camera out of his hands, he said.

“I was definitely scared,” Kautz, 27, said.

Kautz said that when he asked to get his phone back, another officer said he’d return it only after Kautz gave him the password to the phone so he could delete the footage. When Kautz refused, police confiscated the phone, he said. When police returned it, Kautz said, the video images had been deleted, altered or damaged.

Read More Here