First Amendment aside, the NYPD still regularly arrests (and in some cases, taunts) bystanders who film officers and do not interfere with police actions. One officer even lied to make his arrest of a New York Times photographer legitimate. Now civil rights attorney Norman Siegel has filed a lawsuit in federal court that would stop city employees from seeking reprisals against those who would record them in public.

"The NYPD maintains a policy, practice and custom in which officers interfere with the rights of individuals who, without interfering with police activity, are recording to attempting to record officers performing their officials duties in public," the lawsuit states, citing eight instances in which the police wrongfully arrested New Yorkers for recording them.

One of those New Yorkers, Debra Goodman, was taking a cellphone video of paramedics assisting a woman in a wheelchair on West 73rd Street and Broadway last year before a police officer intervened.

"He asked me to produce ID. I refused, because I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Goodman told CBS. “And then he grabbed my arm and handcuffed me, and told me I was under arrest.” She was held for 25 hours.

Another was Shawn Thomas, who was recording a police stop at the Crown Heights-Utica Ave 2/4/5 stop earlier this year when he was approached by an officer who pulled out his own camera and began filming Thomas. "This is my station right here," the officer tells Thomas. "Get out of this train station."

Thomas was then dragged out of the station, thrown to the ground, and arrested.

While this is the first suit of its kind in New York, similar federal complaints have been filed across the country. A federal lawsuit in Maryland garnered a letter [PDF] from the Justice Department reminding the Baltimore Police Department that "recording governmental officers engaged in public duties is a form of speech through which private individuals may gather and disseminate information of public concern, including the conduct of law enforcement officers."

The NYC Law Department's head of federal litigation told the Times that “bystanders are allowed to film police officers as long as they’re not interfering with the officers’ duties and/or police operations.”

You can read the full complaint below.

Goodman vs. NYPD