Man Who Recorded Own Arrest in East Village Files Federal Lawsuit Against NYPD

What to Know

  • Ruben An was handcuffed two years ago when an officer told him to move back from a police investigation
  • An continued to record the scene -- as he's legally allowed to do -- and was handcuffed, which he captured on cellphone video
  • Charges were later dropped, and An is now filing a federal lawsuit against the NYPD

A man who recorded his own arrest in the East Village, then succesfully fought the charges against him, is filing a federal lawsuit against the NYPD. 

Two years ago, Ruben An was standing near the scene of a police investigation and recording it with his cellphone when an officer asked him to step away.

An complied but didn't put down his phone. He could be heard saying in the video, "Officer, I'm not blocking the sidewalk." 

An stood his ground and maintained his right to record public police activity, but that wasn't enough for the NYPD officer, who told him, "I'm gonna need some identification. That's three people who had to divert around you." 

Surveillance cameras captured what happened next: the officer demanded ID, and when An did not comply, he was handcuffed. 

An's attorney said Wednesday his client wasn't obstructing pedestrians.

"He was doing absolutely nothing but recording," said Bill Silverman. 

An was charged with obstruction, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. But after a jury trial last summer, he was cleared of all charges. 

Now An is suing the NYPD, saying the incident violated his First Amendment rights. He's not asking for money, Silverman says. He's asking for change to make sure it doesn't happen again to him or anyone else. 

"He feels that if he records without the law clearly being established in New York City, then he feels he's at risk to be arrested again," said Silverman. 

"We need supervision, we need training, we need monitoring. We need some kind of serious enforcement of this rule," he added. 

The NYPD said it could not comment until it reviews the lawsuit. 

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