ROCKFORD, Ill. (CN) – A freelance reporter claims police in an Illinois city targeted him for filming their activity, arresting him on false charges and releasing his mugshot along with suspects arrested in a prostitution sting.
William Lund is a freelance reporter for The Rockford Scanner, a website that covers local Rockford, Ill.-area news. It relies heavily on listening to police scanners for news tips, often arriving on news scenes before first responders.
On May 2015, Lund says he learned of police activity in downtown Rockford and went to investigate on his motorized bicycle.
When he arrived at the scene, he began filming the police with his phone, but Officers Sean Welsh and Timothy Campbell told him to leave or face arrest, according to a civil rights lawsuit Lund filed Monday in Rockford federal court.
Lund complied, but was arrested anyway when he took a minute to say goodbye to some of the officers at the scene, the complaint states.
They also allegedly ticketed him for operating his motorized bicycle without a license, even though he had the statute on his person showing that he did not need a license for the vehicle.
“Plaintiff was only detained by defendant officers for photographing and documenting the police activity that was occurring on a public street, not for any of the crimes of which he was falsely charged,” Lund’s lawsuit states. “Defendants Welsh and Campbell initiated these criminal charges against plaintiff knowing there was no probable cause to support them.”
Adding insult to injury, Lund says the officers “provided their own destructive media spin of the event, by falsely representing to several media outlets that plaintiff had been arrested as part of a prostitution sting. Plaintiff’s name and booking photo were provided to the media along with the actual prostitution suspects.”
The top three Google results for a search of “William Lund Rockford” still link him to the prostitution sting he attempted to cover for the Rockford Scanner.
All charges against Lund were dropped nine months later, and the Rockford Police Department sustained his complaint against the officers, he says.
Lund seeks punitive damages for claims of false arrest, unreasonable search and seizure, First Amendment retaliation, and conspiracy. He is represented by Louis J. Meyer with Meyer & Kiss in Chicago.
The city of Rockford did not respond to a request for comment left after hours Monday.
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