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A Florida appeals court has ruled against a Black mother who was arrested in 2009 for filming police as they detained her son.
“She obstructed their investigation and processing of her son’s detention,” judges Melanie May and Edward of the 4th District Court of Appeals wrote in a 2-1 decision.
The mother, Tasha Ford, had sued the city of Boynton Beach after the 2009 incident. Back then, police detained her son after he snuck into a movie theatre without a ticket. After the officers called Ms Ford to pick him up, she arrived with her cell phone recording the scene. After arguing with the officers on video, she was arrested.
Judges May and Edward ruled on Wednesday that that arrest was reasonable.
A third judge, Martha Warner, dissented from the ruling, pointing out that “had the individual who recorded George Floyd saying to the officers ‘I can’t breathe’ been in Florida, (she) would have been guilty of a crime.”
Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who killed Mr Floyd, was convicted of murder this year. The phone video of Mr Floyd’s death, recorded by the bystander Darnella Frazier, was a crucial piece of evidence at the trial.
The Boynton Police Department praised Wednesday’s ruling.
“The City of Boynton Beach is pleased with the appellate court’s measured decision,” the department said in a statement. “The decision confirms that Boynton Beach police officers acted in accordance with Florida law. We note that the court found probable cause for the plaintiff’s arrest for obstruction without violence.”
Ms Ford’s lawyer disagreed, saying he and his client were “disappointed” with the court’s decision.
“She was basically arrested for being a concerned mother and for filming the police, which is her First Amendment right,” attorney Samuel Alexander told WPTV. “We agree with Judge Warner’s strong dissent that under the well-established law in Florida there was no probable cause for arrest. We are considering our next steps.”
This is the second of Ms Ford’s two lawsuits stemming from the incident to fail in court. The other, a federal lawsuit arguing that police violated her civil rights, was dismissed.
“When can’t I record you for my protection?” Ms Ford asked The Palm Beach Post in 2010 as she launched the lawsuit. “If they’re not doing anything wrong, why should they care?”