NY photographer wins $30,000 in wrongful arrest case

Carlos Miller

NY photographer wins $30,000 in wrongful arrest case

It was exactly a year ago that Robert Taylor was arrested for photographing trains in the New York City subway system and charged with “unauthorized photography.”

It came as a shock to Taylor, to say the least, who works for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and knew exactly the rules and regulations when it comes to photographing trains.

He even had the gall to pull up the rules on his cell phone to show the officers, specifically 1050.9 (c) of the MTA Rules of Conduct

Photography, filming or video recording in any facility or conveyance is permitted except that ancillary equipment such as lights, reflectors or tripods may not be used. Members of the press holding valid identification issued by the New York City Police Department are hereby authorized to use necessary ancillary equipment. All photographic activity must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this Part.

But that, of course, just proved he was guilty of contempt of cop.

So the cops handcuffed him, threw him in the back of a cruiser and transported him to a local precinct where he was locked in a cell and charged with “disobeying a lawful order” and “unreasonable noise” along with the unauthorized photography charge.

Thanks to their browbeating response, Taylor is now $30,000 richer. Taylor told Photography is Not a Crime that he will probably use the money to make a down payment on a house.

But has the legal settlement made a difference in how photographers are treated within the nation’s largest subway system?

Not even close.

As a Fox news team interviewed Taylor this week at the same station where he was arrested, a man who identified himself as a “transit supervisor” told the news videographer that he was not allowed to film inside the station.

He even went as far as placing his hand over the lens, as you will see in the above video. As if that has ever worked.

Taylor first reported on his arrest on Subchat, a site where rail fans congregate. From there it was picked up by New York City rail fan and photography rights activist Jim Poulos, who operates the War on Photography blog.

And from there it was reported on Photography is Not a Crime, where it got picked up by The New York Times and Gothamist (both who linked to the PINAC story).

It was also through PINAC that Taylor got hooked up with attorney Gerald Cohen, the same attorney who helped Duane Kerzick win a five-figure settlement against Amtrak.

Kerzic, you may recall, was arrested in December 2008 for photographing an Amtrak train while participating in an Amtrak photo contest.

Irony obviously never fails to manifest itself in these cases.


War on Photography