APD Settles Lawsuit Over Cops Stealing Activist's Camera, Trying to Destroy Footage of Drug Raid

For immediate release

Atlanta police officers illegally seized a camera from activists who were filming a drug raid, and sought to destroy the footage. That's the basis of the complaint Copwatch of East Atlanta made against the Atlanta Police Department, and now the department has offered a settlement to avoid a lawsuit.

"All we were doing was filming the police in a public place, very calmly and peacefully. And their response was to grab me, push me around and steal my camera," said Marlon Kautz, a member of Copwatch.

Officer C.J. Lee Forbids Filming


On January 16 2011, two individuals were riding bicycles on Custer Ave near Moreland Ave in Dekalb County. They were pulled over at around 11:50pm by Dekalb County Police Officer C.J. Lee (Badge #2291) who asked them what they were doing riding there at night. The bicyclists declined to answer questions and asked if they were free to go. The officer then appeared annoyed and exited his car (car #10011). At this point one of the bicyclists began video recording with his cell phone. The officer said he did not want to be filmed.

Report to CALEA on APD Misconduct

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) is a private organization which has positioned itself as a certification body for local police departments. In the past, the Atlanta Police Department has sought and received CALEA Accreditation. Now, the APD is up for review, and CALEA is seeking comments from the public on their practices.

Some CALEA standards include:

"Strengthen an agency's accountability, both within the agency and the community, through a continuum of standards that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities."

APD officers refuse to identify themselves while conducting roadblock


Four APD officers were conducting a roadblock.

Two APD officers refused to identify themselves to copwatch volunteers. The male officer, when asked "are you refusing to identify yourself?" explicitly indicated "yep". The female officer when asked the same questions turned her head and walked away without acknowledging the request.

The male officer drove away in vehicle numbered 29309.

The female officer drove away in vehicle numbered 29312, License plate GV09598.

Police Harass Food Not Bombs in Hurt Park


Food Not Bombs was serving their weekly meal in Hurt Park, Atlanta, on August 18th 2010, when a Georgia State University police officer, who later identified himself as Sgt Simms, began harassing a man for lying on the grass. Copwatchers who were present began to film the incident. Two other officers, Lt Brinkley and Sgt Mack, arrived on the scene and demanded to know who was serving food and whether they had a permit to feed in the park. The activists were ordered to leave the park and Sgt Mack threatened to "dispose" of the food if they refused.


Get email announcements about Copwatch:

Report Incident

Online Report Form
or call (678) 390-0393