June 30th, 2011
By: Jesse Solomon
Prosecutors dismissed a charge Monday against a community activist who was arrested while filming a police encounter with her iPod camera because she was concerned it was initiated by racial profiling.
“I’m feeling vindicated, I’m feeling energetic” Emily Good, 28, of Rochester, New York, said of the decision to have the charge dropped.
Good had been charged with obstruction of governmental administration when she began videotaping the interrogation of a black man by three white officers in front of her house on May 12, she said.
“Based upon the evidence, we could not make out the elements of the crime charged,” Monroe County First Assistant District Attorney Sandra Doorley said.
Good said she intends to file a civil suit.
In a joint statement, Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards, City Council President Lovely A. Warren and Police Chief James Sheppard commended the decision to drop the charges against Good and said an internal review is being conducted into the incident.
“Police officers must be able to cope with a high degree of stress while performing oftentimes dangerous duties, relying on their training and experience to guide their behavior,” the statement said. “We want to make clear that it is not the policy or practice of the Rochester Police Department to prevent citizens from observing its activities — including photographing or videotaping — as long as it does not interfere with the safe conduct of those activities,” the statement said.
Additionally, the statement said an internal review would be conducted into a separate incident in which tickets were given “for parking violations of vehicles belonging to members of an organization associated with Ms. Good.”
According to Good, the statement refers to an episode on June 23, when police carrying rulers showed up outside a meeting at a community center supporting her and began issuing tickets to cars parked more than 12 inches from the curb.
Both incidents “raise issues with respect to the conduct of Rochester police officers that require an internal review,” the statement said.
In the May 12 video, provided to CNN, Good can be heard telling officers “this is my front yard. I’m just recording what you’re doing, it’s my right.”
One of the three officers responds by telling Good, “I don’t feel safe with you standing behind me, so I’m going to ask you to go into your house.”
Though the officer repeatedly orders Good to return to her house, she refuses.
“It’s my right to be in my yard and I’m sorry you don’t feel safe. All I have is a camera. … I have no weapons,” Good says on the recording.
About two minutes into the video, a police officer can be heard saying, “You know what, you’re going to go to jail,” and then proceeds to arrest Good.