Three state troopers in Connecticut are being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut after video footage revealed them conspiring to fabricate evidence against a protester.
The ACLU-CT alleges that John Barone, Patrick Torneo and John Jacobi violated the Constitutional rights of Michael Picard. In September of 2015, Picard protested in West Hartford near a police DUI checkpoint.
Picard was then approached by Barone, who seized Picard’s legally-carried firearm and his permit to carry. Picard had a camera out and Barone told him that it was illegal to film police and confiscated the camera.
When Barone went back to Torneo’s police cruiser, the camera was still recording. The troopers were heard looking into Picard’s background to see if he had any prior issues on his record. After they came up short, Barone said, “we gotta cover our a**.”
Then, either Torneo or Jacobi responded with “let’s give him something” and the trio fabricated two criminal infractions that they issued to Picard. Eventually, Picard’s camera was returned to him by Jacobi.
In July, Connecticut Superior Court dismissed the criminal charges against Picard. ACLU-CT legal director Dan Barrett believes that Picard’s first and fourth amendment rights were violated during the altercation. Barrett is representing Picard in the lawsuit.
“Police should be focused on public safety, not punishing protesters and those who film public employees working on a public street,” said Barrett. “As the video shows, these police officers were more concerned with thwarting Mr. Picard’s free speech and covering their tracks than upholding the law.”
As someone who has protested several times, Picard is extremely disappointed in the actions taken by the Connecticut police.
“As an advocate for free speech, I’m deeply disappointed that these police officers ignored my rights, particularly because two of the troopers involved were supervisors who should be setting an example for others,” Picard said. “By seeking to hold these three police officers accountable, I hope that I can prevent the same thing from happening to someone else.”
You can watch the video recorded from Torneo’s cruiser below.
(Photo: Andrew Brookes/Getty Images)