LAFAYETTE, LA (WAFB) - The Lafayette Police Department will now train officers on First Amendment rights, particularly the public's right to photograph officers while they're on job, as part of a lawsuit settlement, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana announced in a statement on Friday. The settlement also required the police department to pay the woman's attorney fees.
The settlement stems from a lawsuit the ACLU of Louisiana filed in March on behalf of a Lafayette mother who was threatened with arrest after she photographed a Lafayette police patrol unit.
Chelline Carter took a picture of her son sitting in the back of the police car following his arrest. The arresting officer, Shannon Brasseux, took Carter's phone and deleted the photo without a warrant or consent, according to the ACLU. Cater was also threatened with arrest.
"People have a constitutional right to take photographs of things in public spaces – and that includes the police and other government officials," Jane Johnson, Interim Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said in a news release.
"Chelline Carter had every right to photograph her son in the back of a police vehicle, and the First Amendment training Lafayette police officers are receiving is a credit to her courage and resolve. The ACLU of Louisiana will continue to hold law enforcement officials accountable for respecting the rights of the public, including the right to film and photograph the police."
Th First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to peacefully protest, and freedom to petition the government. The public's right to take photographs and record things that "are plainly visible in public spaces – including police and other government officials carrying out their duties," under the First Amendment, according to the ACLU of Louisiana.