Lawsuit Alleges Boston Police Falsely Arrested and Beat Teenager for Recording Officers with his Cell Phone

The firm filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of Maury Paulino, alleging that four Boston police officers falsely arrested him and used brutality against him because he recorded the officers’ activity with his cell phone. The lawsuit states that although Mr. Paulino’s recording was legal, the officers punched, kneed, and pepper-sprayed him in the face, then charged him with violating the wiretapping statute.

On November 18, 2009, Mr. Paulino (19 at the time) was outside the B2 station after bailing out a friend. Mr. Paulino saw officers mistreating his friend, so he began to record the incident with his phone. Mr. Paulino did not interfere with the officers’ actions, but the officers decided to arrest him and brought him to the ground. Officer Seth Richard punched Mr. Paulino in the face three times, kneed him in the face, and sprayed him with pepper spray. Officers Nicolas Onishuk, Richard Davis and James Moore assisted or stood by without preventing this unreasonable force.

The officers brought criminal charges against Mr. Paulino, including the charge of violating the Massachusetts wiretapping statute. He was found not guilty at trial. In another recent lawsuit, Glik v. Cunniffe, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that the First Amendment protects the right to record police officers in public spaces performing their official duties. Since Boston police officers should have known that it is unlawful to arrest people for recording police performing their official duties in public, Mr. Paulino’s lawsuit also includes a claim against the City of Boston for failing to supervise and discipline officers for their pattern of unlawful arrests.

“I was recording the police officers to make sure they didn’t hurt my friend. I didn’t expect the police officers would arrest and hit me for recording them,” says Mr. Paulino.

Click here to see a copy of Mr. Paulino’s complaint.

Here is the video that Mr. Paulino recorded shortly before his own arrest.

Here is a news story about Mr. Paulino's case:

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