Man arrested for videotaping wins $210,000 jury award
MASSACHUSETTS–A federal District Court jury in Boston in mid- September awarded $210,000 to a cable television producer who was arrested for refusing to stop videotaping discussions after a town hall meeting.
The town of Pembroke must pay Richard Iacobucci $75,000 in compensatory damages and $135,000 in punitive damages under the verdict.
Iacobucci claimed that police violated his Fourth Amendment rights and caused him emotional distress when a police sergeant pushed his video camera into his face in an attempt to get him to stop taping. Additional charges against other police officers and members of the Town of Pembroke Historic District Commission were dismissed by a federal District Court in April.
The case arose out of a confrontation between Iacobucci and some members of the Town of Pembroke Historic District Commission at a town council meeting in March 1991. According to Iacobucci, he was arrested the night of the meeting and charged with interfering in a public meeting and being a disorderly person.
At that meeting, he was asked to move the video camera he was using from one side of the room to another. Iacobucci refused, saying if he did, he would not capture facial views of the board members. Officials eventually called the police, and after Iacobucci refused the police officers’ requests to stop taping, they left and he taped the rest of the meeting.
According to Iacobucci, after the meeting, he saw Commission members talking in the hall with an individual who had been scheduled to speak at the meeting about commercial development plans. Iacobucci began recording their conversation. He refused to stop when they asked, saying he had a right as a journalist to record the meeting. A police sergeant arrived at the scene and asked Iacobucci to stop taping, but he refused. He was arrested, his camera was confiscated, and the tape was erased while he was in jail. (Iacobucci v. Town of Pembroke; Media Counsel: pro se)