CA4: A civilian livestreaming police interaction is protected by 1A, but officer here gets QI

The First Amendment protects livestreaming interactions with police. But qualified immunity denies plaintiff’s claim. Sharpe v. Winterville Police Department, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIX 2959 (4th Cir. Feb. 7, 2023):

This case asks whether a town’s alleged policy that bans video livestreaming certain interactions with law enforcement violates the First Amendment. It also asks whether a police officer who, during a traffic stop, attempted to stop a passenger from livestreaming the encounter may be successfully sued under § 1983 for violating the passenger’s First Amendment rights.

On the first question, Defendants have thus far failed to establish that the alleged livestreaming policy is sufficiently grounded in, and tailored to, strong governmental interests to survive First Amendment scrutiny. So we vacate the district court’s order declaring the policy constitutional and remand for further proceedings. But on the second question, we affirm the district court’s order holding that qualified immunity protects the officer. When the stop occurred, it was not clearly established that the officer’s actions violated the passenger’s First Amendment rights. So qualified immunity bars that claim.

This entry was posted in Seizure. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.