I reached out to the young lady in question in police abuse woman for filming (above) – here’s our discussion:
When were you first approached by the HPD Officer?
I was approached by the HPD Officer as I was turning on my camera. It was after the street theater performance had ended. He had pulled up in a cruiser a minute or so earlier, as we were walking down the sidewalk to regroup at our meeting point before going home. One of my friends (not in costume) had been filming during our street theater performance; I asked her to film, but she was too nervous, so I took the camera instead.
How many activists were with you at the time of your interaction/arrest with the HPD?
There were 6 or 7 activists around me at the time of the interaction. Several more were about a block behind, distributing flyers. But we were in Downtown Hartford on Main Street near one of the central bus stations, so there were probably a couple hundred people who witnessed the whole thing.
Do you believe you were singled out because you were recording? Was anyone else detained by the HPD Officer?
I was definitely singled out because I was recording. Possibly also because I was dressed as a French Maid, holding a feather duster, and taller than the arresting officer, telling him that I had a right to film public servants on public property. Nobody else was arrested or detained. My lawyer later told me that the only way the police officer could justify my arrest would be to say I was “threatening.” I thought that was kind of funny.
Do you know who the individual with the flashlight in the recording was?
The individual with the flashlight was a security guard from the bank. He followed us down the street after we left to go home. I don’t know if he wanted to play cop, or had an authority complex, or what. He said he was an ex-marine, so maybe something terrible happened to him to make him do/say what he did/said. As we were walking down Main Street, he kept yelling that he could see my vagina. Then, when the police came, he pointed his flashlight at me. Total sicko.
It appears in the video that the individuals with the flashlight singled you out. Why do you think this was?
At first thought, it’s probably because I was the tallest and most provocatively dressed – the most attention-grabbing of the group. Other than that, I’m not quite sure. There were at least a dozen participants.
You were charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing?
Those were my charges. The disorderly conduct was for filming, and the trespassing was retroactive and arbitrary (as we left when asked, as possible… we couldn’t all exit through one door at the same time). I wasn’t even the last one out of the bank. I don’t have a copy of the police report, but my lawyer told me that the officer wrote that I resisted arrest, which is totally false; a ton of witnesses can back me up on that.
How many court appearances did you have?
I had 5 court appearances total (two in community, three in criminal) between the months of April and September of 2012. I submitted the video as evidence. The case never went to trial by jury. I also didn’t have to stand up and make a plea. Most of what went on at court took place in the rooms behind the courtroom between my lawyer and the judge. I was just sitting around waiting. It seemed kind of fishy. I think they just wanted to sweep my case under the rug after they saw the video.
What is the current disposition of your criminal case?
There are no more court dates. My record has been wiped. The bruises from the handcuffs/ankle shackles have healed.
Lindsey did her own write-up of her experience here.
Experiences like Lindsey’s are the reason sites like Copblock, PINAC, etc. exist, and are quite important for accountability with Law Enforcement. Without accountability, experiences like Lindsey’s will continue.
Lindsey was part of a group of activists and was singled out because she was taller, dressed in a French Maid costume, and openly chose to record her interaction with Hartford Police. This officer had no probable cause that Lindsey had committed a crime, nor reasonable suspicion that she was about to.
The charges – disorderly conduct, trespassing, and resisting arrest – were all dismissed. What this shows is an overreach by law enforcement officers in upholding and enforcing the law – this was personal. Law enforcement officers must be held to account for their actions, good, bad, or indifferent, or situations like these will continue to proliferate.
This conclusion is warranted by the fact Ms. Wainwright had to endure five court appearances (two Community Court, three Criminal Court) over a period of five months, in order to have all charges dismissed. This was a waste of the public’s taxes and the time of all individuals involved. Why did this occur? The Hartford Police officer in question did not want to be recorded.
Had the LEO in question acknowledged Lindsey’s right to record her interactions with public officials, had an open conversation upon arrival, diffused the situation and listened, this experience would not have occurred.
Reach out to Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra (860) 757-9311, Constituent Services (860-757-9500), and Police Chief James C. Rovella, Chief (860) 757-4000, firstname.lastname@example.org, to ascertain accountability in this matter.