A few weeks ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit joined six other circuits in recognizing that the First Amendment protects the right to record the police in public as they perform their official duties. In that decision, the appellate court also held that the right was clearly established as of mid-2019, and as a result, it allowed a litigant’s §1983 claim against a police officer to move forward.
In May 2019, plaintiff Abade Irizarry, “a YouTube journalist and blogger,” was filming a traffic stop in Lakewood, Colo. Irizarry v. Yehia, __ F.4th __, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 18960, at *2 (10th Cir. July 11, 2022). Soon after Irizarry began recording, another police officer, defendant Ahmed Yehia, arrived at the scene and walked up to Irizarry, positioning himself so that he blocked Irizarry’s view of the stop. Id. Officer Yehia also shined a flashlight into Irizarry’s camera and later “blasted his air horn” and repeatedly drove his police car towards Irizarry and another journalist in a threatening manner. Id. at *2-4.