Virginia Man Arrested For Recording Cops Plans Lawsuit

Carlos Miller

A Virginia man who was arrested for photographing cops had his charges dropped last month.

Now he is planning on suing the Norfolk Police Department.

And because of that, we can’t see the video that got him arrested.

Lawyers are funny like that. Many don’t believe in the power of a viral video to help their case.

So we’ll just have to depend on The Virginian-Pilot’s description of the video that led to Alton Robinson’s arrest last April as he was video recording a New Black Panther march.

Robinson began filming a Sgt. Phillip Dixon who was sitting inside an unmarked car. And who also happened to be holding a video camera.

Dixon got out, walked to Robinson and asked, “Why are you recording me, sir? I’m not giving you permission to record me.”
He asked who Robinson was, and Robinson gave his name.
“Mr. Robinson, I know you very well,” said Dixon, who told him he was only allowed to record the march. “If you’re going to place my photograph on Facebook… I am telling you that there will be repercussions.”
Officer DeAndre Hyman told Robinson, “It’s against the law to record without a permit.”
As Robinson protested, Hyman grabbed his camera and put it face-down on a car, where it continued to record audio of the confrontation. Police wrote Robinson a summons charging him with unlawful filming, he said. He was arrested after he refused to sign it.

The article states that a magistrate had enough sense to not grant police the charge of unlawful filming.

But the magistrate wasn’t about to let Robinson go unpunished, charging him with unlawfully refusing to give his name and disorderly conduct.  The magistrate also wrote that Robinson “tried to incite ‘New Black Panthers.’ “

Robinson is black. I wonder if he was white would he have been accused of trying to incite the New Black Panthers.

I sent an email yesterday to Patrick Wilson, the reporter who wrote the story, asking about the video and he said he tried his best to convince Robinson to release the video, but his lawyer wouldn’t budge.

But Wilson assured he would keep on top of the story, so hopefully we’ll eventually see it.

For now, we’ll have to settle for a video Robinson shot in 2007 of officers detaining, then releasing a man with Robinson criticizing them.


War on Photography