ROCHESTER, NEW YORK – The case against a Rochester woman arrested while videotaping police has been dismissed.
Early Monday afternoon, demonstrators rallied outside the Hall of Justice in support of Emily Good, the city woman who was arrested while videotaping police officers during a traffic stop on May 12 in front of her 19th Ward home.
Good kept recording police officers while standing in her front yard even though an officer ordered her several times go inside. She was charged with obstructing of governmental administration. Since then, the video from that night has made it onto news shows across the country.
Good’s attorney, Stephanie Stare, had asked for the charges to be dismissed. In court today, the District Attorney’s office says based on a review of the evidence, there was no legal basis to go forward. The charge was withdrawn and the judge dismissed the case.
Several of Good’s supporters who filled the small courtroom quietly cheered as the case was dismissed. They hugged her outside the courtroom and Good said “I think there are weaknesses in the brotherhood of the police, and they are not above the law.”
Good was asked if she would do it over again. “Yes, I would do it again. And I would encourage other people to do the same thing. Carry a camera. Stand your ground. Go to the seen of flashing lights and observe what’s going on. Keep a safe distance.”
News 10 NBC’s Ray Levato asked “Do you think there is racial profiling going on?” Good answered, “Everyday. Everyday. Absolutely.”
KaeLyn Rich, a spokeswoman for the Rochester office of the New York Civil Liberties Union afterwards called city police actions “a disgusting disregard for an individual’s First Amendment rights to videotape in public spaces. I hope we can repair the relationship between the community and the police by holding police accountable, and making sure police officers are getting the training they need to respect people’s constitutional rights.”
Supporter Rev. Willie Harvey of the Peace baptist Church said “the police did the wrong thing.”
City activist Howard Eagle, a spokesman for a Rochester anti-racism movement said “This case really is about racial profiling. That’s the reason why Emily Good grabbed her camera in the first place and began to record the activity of the police. She suspected that a young black man was being racially profiled.”
A joint statement issued by Mayor Tom Richards, City Council President Lovely Warren and Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard says they support the decision of the District Attorney’s Office to dismiss the charges against Good.
The statement says whatever the specific circumstances that led to Good’s arrest, they see no purpose in pursuing the criminal charges.
The statement continues, “We believe that the incident that led to Ms. Good’s arrest and the subsequent ticketing for parking violations of vehicles belonging to members of an organization associated with Ms. Good raise issues with respect to the conduct of Rochester Police Officers that require an internal review. A review into both matters has been initiated.”
“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. As routine as a traffic stop may appear, it has proven over time to be a potentially dangerous activity for police. Nonetheless, police must conduct themselves with appropriate respect for the rights of those involved or who are observing their actions.”
“There is a mandated legal process that governs our internal response when police officer behavior is called into question. We must respect this process and that may be frustrating to those who may have already made up their mind about the outcome. We have confidence that the review will be fair and impartial and invite Ms. Good and anyone else with firsthand information to participate. We will withhold our judgment until the review is completed.”
“Whatever the outcome of the internal review, 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. It is also not the policy or practice of the Department to selectively enforce laws in response to the activities of a group or individual. This has always been the case and it is being reinforced within the Department, so that it will be abundantly clear to everyone.”