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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Yet another lawsuit filed against the APD

Earlier this year, the city settled for $40 grand with members of the police watchdog group Cop Watch of East Atlanta, who'd threatened to file suit when in April 2010, Atlanta police officers confiscated a camera they'd been using to document police activity and deleted its contents. The settlement also required that the APD make changes to its standard operating procedures and retrain officers to ensure they understand that it's within a citizen's rights to photograph and record them.

Well, despite the apparent mea culpa, the city has refused to settle an older, very similar incident in which police confiscated a camera from a woman who was recording them and then deleted the camera's contents. Today, attorney Dan Grossman — of Eagle raid-fame — and attorneys with the Southern Center for Human Rights filed a civil rights suit on the woman's behalf.

Here's a synopsis of what happened ...

Felecia Anderson is a 24-year-old woman who lived in the West End at the time of the incident. On October 14, 2009, Ms. Anderson observed APD’s now-disbanded RED DOG unit, raiding her neighbor’s house. Ms. Anderson and others came out of their homes in response to the police activity, and noticed police officers repeatedly kicking and dragging a man while he was laying handcuffed on the ground. Ms. Anderson went home to retrieve her camera and returned moments later to film the incident as she stood on public sidewalk across the street from where the man was being beaten. Right away, several officers began to shout at Ms. Anderson and demand that she stop recording. She stopped filming the officers and walked back to her house. One of the officers charged up behind her and demanded that she give him her camera. Taken aback by the behavior of the police officer, Ms. Anderson dropped her camera and the officer seized it. She was ordered to step off of the sidewalk into the middle of the street and produce her identification.

The officers then arrested Anderson for, among other things, for walking in the middle of the street. She's seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

It's been an active week for the APD, at least litigiously.

A federal lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by five men who claim to have been improperly strip searched and groped in public by Atlanta police officers. And, on Monday, City Council approved a $120,000 settlement with eight more Eagle raid victims; the city has thus far refused to settle with an additional ten people present the night of the botched raid.

All of the suits were filed by attorney Grossman, who told the AJC earlier this week, “For years people just assumed you can’t fight City Hall and you can’t fight the police department. You can almost call it a pent up demand for justice by people who have been abused by the police.”

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