ACLU lawsuit leads to changes how a Minnesota police department handles citizens filming officers
ROBBINSDALE, Minn. – A church secretary was cited for filming officers, but now it's that police department that's paying up.
Amy Koopman started livestreaming on Facebook when she saw Robbinsdale officers pointing guns at two Black men in August of 2018. That stream landed her in legal trouble, but the story doesn't end there.
"Three squad cars with three officers out of their cars, guns drawn on what I could see at the time was one Black man," Koopman said.
The seminary graduate says she recorded the activity, fearful of the potential outcome.
"Because what was in my mind [was] Philando Castile," Koopman said.
In that case, Castile's girlfriend streamed live on Facebook during a 2016 traffic stop where St. Anthony police shot and killed the cafeteria supervisor.
Koopman says she continued to talk with officers at a distance. After putting her phone away, officers cited her with obstruction, later dismissed by a judge.
The ACLU took on her case and sued civilly. The settlement awards Koopman $70,000. But there was a bigger drive behind it all.
Robbinsdale police must adopt policies including recognizing people have the right to record police, and it bars officers from taking action against those who do. Officers who fail to follow the policy will be subject to discipline. And they must go through training on constitutional rights and obstruction laws.
"These policy changes preserve and protect my right and all citizens' rights to hold them to account," Koopman said.
Tim Sandvik, city manager for city of Robbinsdale, gave this statement to WCCO: "The settlement ends the possibility of additional, prolonged litigation and was reached in the best interest of the parties involved. The Robbinsdale Police Department's policy manual is currently being revised, and training has been scheduled for all officers."