YouTube channel creator sues officer for an allegedly bogus ticket.
Salt Lake City resident Jose Ramirez-Medina, 44, has a ‘cop watch’ YouTube channel which he uses to confront officers by videotaping their actions and asking them questions. Now, he has filed the federal civil rights lawsuit against Sgt. Sean McCarthy and West Valley City accusing the officer of filing a false citation against him. Ramirez’s attorney, Karra Porter, said her client has a First Amendment right of free speech.
The lawsuit is centered around an incident that occurred on April 12, 2018, in which Ramirez was in a parking lot and, as a bystander, he filmed officers pulling over a vehicle. During the traffic stop, McCarthy shined a spotlight on Ramirez-Medina.
“Jose asked the officers to stop, but the officers continued to shine the spotlight at him. The light from the spotlight was so bright that it temporarily blinded Jose. Jose became alarmed by his state of blindness,” the lawsuit alleges, continuing, “Ramirez called 911 requesting medical assistance. He told dispatchers that he could ‘see but I see blurriness. And when I close my eyes, I see the spotlight.’”
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash
McCarthy said he was familiar with Ramirez-Medina’s YouTube channel, telling him, “I know what you’re about, sir. I’m not going to stand here and debate this and argue this with you so you can get me on camera saying something stupid, okay? The sole purpose of this YouTube page is to video police officers engaging them in confrontation. Their front-page states, ‘Cops today are nothing but dumb stupid animals, hired for their low IQs and used by the powers that be to control the masses and collect revenue for the state by legally extorting the American pout (sic) out of our hard-earned money.’”
However, Ramirez-Medina’s lawsuit contends, “The description of the channel is inaccurate, and the quote defendant McCarthy was citing was from a public comment posted by a third party.”
In a recording taken from McCarthy’s body camera, he is heard telling Ramirez-Medina, “Just so you know, I’m hijacking your call here. I’m giving him a ticket.” He takes the phone and says, “This is the fourth time I know of this week he’s called in a problem just to videotape people. It’s not against the law to videotape people, but it’s against the law to continually call.”
Then Ramirez-Medina is heard saying, “I need you to come and get me, I can’t drive right now. I’m blind. I got blinded.”
McCarthy responds, “This is the fourth time this week you’ve called 911 to report some kind of a crime to get us to wherever you’re at.”
On April 18, 2018, Ramirez was also charged with emergency reporting abuse, which is a class C misdemeanor. Porter also represented Ramirez in that case.
“West Valley City brought a criminal information against Jose for 911 abuse, knowing the allegations against him were false. When ordered by the court to supply a probable cause statement to support the Information, West Valley City quickly dropped the charges instead,” the lawsuit states, continuing, “The only reason he was cited and charged is because he runs this cop watch channel. Being retaliated against is protected by the First Amendment. (McCarthy) just had it out for Jose because he doesn’t like his YouTube channel.”
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