GREENBELT, Md. (CN) – Abusive police officers arrested an “award-winning and distinguished professional photographer” and maliciously prosecuted him for filming them as they arrested two Hispanic men, costing him his White House press pass, the journalist claims in Federal Court.
Mannie Garcia sued Montgomery County, Md., Chief of Police Thomas Manger, and Officers Chris Malouf, Kevin Baxter and Michael Graves, alleging battery, false arrest and malicious prosecution.
Garcia says he and his wife were walking out of a restaurant in Wheaton, Md., when they saw police arresting two young men. Garcia claims he was concerned that the police may have been using excessive force.
Having been a member of working press for more than 25 years, he began filming, which attracted the attention of the officers.
Garcia claims he identified himself as a member of the press when Malouf approached him, and he continued to record them, which enraged the officers.
“Defendant Malouf did not like the fact that Mr. Garcia continued to record their actions with the camera, so he lost his temper, became enraged, screamed ‘That’s it!,’ and placed Mr. Garcia under arrest,” the complaint states.
“Defendant Malouf then placed a ‘choke hold’ on Mr. Garcia and dragged him across the street to his police cruiser.
“Defendant Malouf repeatedly threw Mr. Garcia to the ground.”
Police charged Garcia with disorderly conduct and breach of public peace. He says they seized his camera and returned it later, without the memory card.
“During the almost 6 months and 3 trial delays prior to the case coming to trial, the Secret Service became aware that Mr. Garcia had criminal charges pending against him and Mr. Garcia was disallowed the renewal of his White House Press Pass,” the complaint states. “The loss of his White House Press Pass prevented him from working at the White House, one of his primary work sites as a photojournalist.”
Garcia says he was found not guilty at trial, and that Montgomery County did nothing to discipline its officers for the bogus arrest, which physically and emotionally harmed him.
He seeks $500,000 in compensatory damages and punitive damages to be determined at trial.
He is represented by David Merkin with Merkin Taylor of Rockville, Md.