Claim: Woman arrested, camera destroyed after recording Baltimore police

A Baltimore woman claims in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court that city police destroyed her camera and arrested her because she was recording officers who she observed beating someone else.

The lawsuit, first reported last month by WBAL-TV when it was filed in Circuit Court, seeks $150,000. The plaintiff, Makia Smith, said that on March 8, 2012, she was driving on Harford Road when she witnessed officers beating a young man, according to the complaint. She said she took out her camera phone and started recording.

Smith, 31, said an officer ran over, reached into her car and grabbed her phone, and smashed it under his foot. She said three other officers then came to the car and pulled her out by her hair and placed her under arrest, the lawsuit says.

She was taken to Central Booking, where she was charged with second-degree assault, resisting arrest, failing to display a license, disobeying a lawful order, and obstructing a roadway. WBAL-TV reported that the charges were dropped when the arresting officer failed to appear in court.  

Police declined to comment on pending litigation. 

The department is still locked in court with a man who said his camera images were deleted by officers at the 2010 Preakness, a case that has seen the Justice Department jump in to assert the right to record officers in their public duties.

Baltimore Police have drafted new general orders addressing the issue, though the Justice Department said they did not go far enough. In March, the judge overseeing the case said police were conducting a "witch hunt" against the plaintiff, Christopher Sharp.

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