LAFAYETTE, La. — In an action to protect the rights to photograph and the privacy of cellphones, the ACLU of Louisiana filed suit today on behalf of a Lafayette mother who took photographs of a Lafayette police vehicle.
After cooperating with the officer while he arrested her minor son, Chelline Carter took a picture of her son sitting in the back of the police car. The officer, Shannon Brasseaux, took her phone from her hand, accessed and searched it, and deleted the photo – all without a warrant or consent. Carter was also threatened with arrest.
“Everyone has a right to photograph what they see, including actions of the police as long as they don’t interfere,” said Marjorie R. Esman, ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director. “In addition, cellphones are by law private and can’t be searched without a warrant. Ms. Carter had every right to take and keep the photos.”
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, seeks an injunction prohibiting Lafayette police “from interfering with the rights of individuals to photograph police activities in public and also “from conducting warrantless nonconsensual searches of cellular telephones and related devices, among other things. The plaintiffs are represented by ACLU of Louisiana Staff Attorney Bruce Hamilton, and cooperating attorney Maureen Jennings. Defendants are Officer Shannon Brasseaux, City-Parish President Joel Robideaux, and the Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government.