A federal appeals court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a fired Oklahoma police officer who sued his former department for damages after the agency released a video of the officer roughing up a suspect. The officer, Mike Denton, was fired and then reinstated with full back pay before being fired again years later after another video surfaced of him allegedly using excessive force on someone. Denton previously claimed the first video’s release was a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech and association.
The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the former officer did not prove that the release of the 2011 video by the Owasso Police Department was done in retaliation. Denton had previously e-mailed fellow union members urging them to reject a proposed collective bargaining agreement. But ultimately, the court said that Denton proffered “unsubstantiated allegations” (PDF).
The officer’s suit, however, highlights that different people can come to varying conclusions about the value of police video. This idea first came to light with the Rodney King beating, but a similar split occurred with videos in Charlotte, North Carolina and El Cajon, California just last week. In this instance, Denton likely would not have found himself in hot water at all if not for the initial video.