Last spring, Jason Disisto and some friends were hanging out in front of a restaurant in Washington Heights when an NYPD officer named Jonathan Munoz came up to one of Disisto’s female friends and started to frisk and paw her. Munoz stuck his hand in the woman’s sweater and took her by the wrist.
Disisto then grabbed his friend’s cell phone to record the incident. Another officer, Edwin Flores, charged at Disitso to prevent from filming. Video footage shows Munoz and Flores attempting to wrestle the phone of Disisto’s hand and then cuffing him. The two officers arrested Disisto and put him in a police car, throwing the cellphone out of the car window.
In Munoz’s incident report, he claims that Disisto lunged at him and that’s why he was arrested. Three angles of the incident show that Disisto did not lunge. The criminals charges against Disisto were later dropped.
According to NBC 4, dozens of New Yorkers filed complaints last year charging that NYPD officers physically lashed out at citizens for attempting to film police confrontation, despite the fact that it is fully legal to film the police.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that monitors polices misconduct, is currently investigating 27 claims from 2014 (including Disisto’s) that accuse the NYPD officers of acting inappropriately to being recorded. Disisto is suing Munoz, Florez, and a third unidentified officer, as well as the NYPD. His suit asserts that the department has a “de facto policy” of “making retaliatory arrests against people who lawfully photograph, document or record police activity.”