Our cover story this week dissected how the San Francisco police department teamed up with truTV's "Bait Car" to film a car theft sting here in San Francisco. Some of the people caught in the sting told SF Weekly they're flirting with the idea of suing the police or the TV network.
Well, they're certainly not alone. In an interesting case filed in federal court in Southern California this week, Deidria Nicholson of La Mesa is suing the San Diego Police Department for allegedly inviting three TV crews along while searching her apartment and car. Nicholson alleges the cops violated her fourth amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The case is very similar to the 1999 landmark case, Hanlon v. Berger,
in which the Supreme Court ruled that allowing the media along to
record federal officers executing a warrant was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Photographers and reporters from CNN
had accompanied federal wildlife agents while executing a search warrant on the
Montana ranch of a suspected poacher.
days before the San Diego police executed the search warrant. The San
Diego police got an anonymous call saying the suspect looked like
Nicholson. The suit says the only similarity between the two women is
that they are both "heavy-set black women."
Still, the police allegedly invited three camera crews along while they
arrested Nicholson, and searched her apartment and car. The suit claims
the footage aired for days and led to Nicholson having to go into
protective custody at Las Colinas Detention Center. The district
five days later at an arraignment, when the prosecutors saw Nicholson
didn't look like the woman caught in surveillance footage, according to the suit.
Nicholson is seeking punitive damages for arrest without probable cause,
detention without probable cause, and infliction of emotional distress, among a bevy of other complaints.
Hat tip: Courthouse News