Connecticut State Police made up charges against a young open carry activist last year.
The state eventually dismissed all charges when they heard Michael Picard’s recording of cops plotting to trump up charges against him to “cover our ass.”
Now Picard is suing Connecticut State Police with the help of the ACLU for trumping up fabricated charges against him as well as violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.
The September 2015 incident was all caught on video after State Troopers John Barone, Patrick Torneo, and John Jacobi illegally seized Picard’s camera and inadvertently left it on, all while their illegal actions were plotted. The video can be seen at the bottom of the page.
“Let’s give him something. We can hit him with creating a public disturbance. We gotta cover our ass,” Barone was recorded as saying.
Picard was in West Hartford protesting a DUI checkpoint by holding a big sign that alerted drivers. After an hour of protesting, police approached Picard and knocked the camera out of his hand, noting that Picard didn’t have a First Amendment right to record the trooper.
It was then that the troopers illegally search Picard and discovered he was open carrying a gun, which is legal in Connecticut. The troopers confiscated the camera along with the gun to run a permit check, only to find out that Picard’s gun permit is valid, all while violating the young man’s Fourth Amendment right to protection against illegal search and seizure.
“Oh crap we gotta punch a number on this guy,” a trooper can be heard saying.
“What we say is that multiple motorists stopped to complain about a guy waving a gun around, but none of them wanted to stop and make a statement.”
But then one of the troopers noticed that Picard’s camera was still on.
“Oh shit!! I think the camera is on, it says it is still recording.”
ACLU-CT legal director Dan Barrett stated the following:
“Police should be focused on public safety, not punishing protesters and those who film public employees working on a public street. As the video shows, these police officers were more concerned with thwarting Mr. Picard’s free speech and covering their tracks than upholding the law.”
Although Picard was not arrested, the troopers did however give Picard tickets for reckless use of the highway and creating a pubic disturbance, all of which were dismissed months later.