Judge acquits Va. man arrested while recording BRPD officers outside Varsity Theater

Officer grabs man's cell phone. (Source: Varsity Theater Surveillance Video)
Officer grabs man's cell phone. (Source: Varsity Theater Surveillance Video)
Officers arrest Daniel Clement. (Source: Varsity Theater Surveillance Video)
Officers arrest Daniel Clement. (Source: Varsity Theater Surveillance Video)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A judge has acquitted a Virginia man who was visiting Baton Rouge when he said he was thrown to the ground and arrested while trying to video city police officers outside Varsity Theater on Dec. 22, 2014.

Judge Lee Daniel found Daniel Clement, 24, not guilty of one misdemeanor count of entry or remaining after being forbidden and another misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace.

"The state failed to prove he did a single thing wrong," said Aidan Reynolds, an attorney for Clement.

Clement was one of several people police arrested outside the Varsity Theater near LSU. Witnesses said paramedics were first called to the scene to help a woman who had passed out after a holiday party that was being held inside. Police were then called to the scene "in reference to EMS and Fire needing assistance with a large hostile crowd making threats and not letting them do their jobs," a responding officer wrote in his probable cause report tied to Clement's arrest.

In his official report, the BRPD officer wrote that as he and other officers first arrived, they spent nearly 10 minutes trying to clear the crowd, repeatedly ordering them to leave the area. In court, the officers at the scene said Clement was intoxicated and resisted repeated requests that he leave the scene.

Clement's lawyer argued that the officers had over-reacted at the scene.

"There's one officer in particular that frankly lost his cool, lost his temper and he caused this whole thing," Reynolds explained.

Reynolds was referencing BRPD Officer Brandon Blackwell. In surveillance video of the incident, Blackwell is seen getting out mace before snatching a cell phone from Clement's hand.

"I saw a police officer push somebody and I've always been told if something like that is going on, it's important to have an objective source of data for what happened," Clement said back in 2014. "So, I pulled my phone out and I started filming."

Moments later, another officer appears to put his hand around Clement's neck before throwing him to the ground.

"I believe that some officers, particularly this one officer involved in this case, are intimidated by civilians filming them and I think that's what put him over the edge," Reynolds added.

In court, Blackwell said he took the phone simply to try to get Clement's attention. In a statement released right after the incident, BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie said he was sending Blackwell "to attend remedial training on crowd control and methods on how to de-escalate a potentially violent crowd."

BRPD and its lawyers at the district attorney's office declined a request for comment. Clement and the police could be in court soon. He has a federal lawsuit against BRPD that has been on hold until this trial wrapped up.


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