Attorneys representing a Gary man who was arrested in July for recording a police officer detaining a woman say their client's First Amendment rights were violated, and they're now considering legal action.
Andre James, who was arrested for the incident in early July, posted a video on social media showing part of the encounter, and it's since been viewed tens of thousands of times. The whole incident appeared to have not been captured on video.
James said he was at a Gary gas station when a woman pulled in and began yelling "belligerently." The officer, who the Gary man claimed didn't identify himself as law enforcement - allegedly grabbed the woman's arm, and according to James, acted aggressively.
"If I wasn't out there, it probably would have been worse than what it was," he said.
During the encounter, James and the unidentified officer argued about how the officer acted while arresting the woman. At one point, the officer warns James to "back up" before he becomes "involved" in the situation.
Other officers arrive on scene a short time later, and in the following moments, the original officer takes James into custody.
At a news conference Sunday, the attorneys representing James iterated that under the U.S. Constitution, a citizen has the ability to protest the treatment of a third party by police officers.
"A Gary police officer did not appreciate that Mr. James was videotaping his actions, which would be a record as to exactly what occurred," attorney David Gladish said. "Once you go outside, you should expect... in the United States, that you're going to be videotaped."
In a post on Facebook Friday, the Gary Police Department confirmed it was aware of a video of one of its officers that has been "circling through the community."
"The events depicted in the video are already under investigation," the post read. "The officer in question was placed on leave when the Department became aware of the events. The officer will remain on leave pending the outcome of the investigation."
Gladish added that police departments have an obligation to properly train their officers to ensure that they understand the constitutional rights of citizens.
"When the officer does not realize, that in this day and age, that Mr. James had the ability to videotape the actions of the officer, to protest the actions of the officer, that falls on the Gary Police Department as well," he said.
Michael Campbell, of Campbell Law in Highland, is representing James in criminal court, seeking to get the charges thrown out. Gladish plans to represent James in a civil lawsuit.