Ademo Freeman (whose legal name is Adam Mueller), the founder of the police accountability group Cop Block, has settled a lawsuit with the town of Greenfield and the Greenfield Police Department over his 2010 arrest for recording police. (Disclosure: Ademo and Pete Eyre, who is also mentioned in this story, are both friends of mine.)
In a post on Cop Block on Saturday, Ademo explained that he had reached a settlement with the Greenfield police, but that he was not at liberty to discuss the terms.
"I cannot announce the terms of such settlement. Just know that this chapter of my life is over," he wrote.
Ademo's lawsuit concerned a 2010 incident in which he was arrested for recording police at the Franklin County House of Corrections in Greenfield.
On July 1, Ademo and Pete Eyre drove from New Hampshire to the jail, where they attempted to bail a friend out of jail. Ademo and Pete, who have worked together on documentary projects such the Motorhome Diaries and Liberty on Tour, brought their videos cameras with them to document their trip.
Ademo and Pete were initially told by employees in the jail lobby that they could not record. They refused to shut their cameras off and were eventually able to speak to a supervisor told them they could stay and conduct their business.
They did not have their driver’s licenses or sufficient money to post bail on hand, so they left the jail to get money out of an ATM and retrieve their licenses from their RV, which was parked a away from the jail.
When they returned to the jail, they were again told that they could not record. A police officer, Sergeant Todd M. Dodge, entered the jail and told them that they would have to shut their cameras off or leave. They asked to speak to Dodge outside the jail.
Outside, Ademo and Pete were eventually arrested by Dodge and two jail employees. They were both charged with wiretapping, trespassing, and resisting arrest. Pete faced additional charges, which were dismissed by the prosecutor before trial.
After they were arrested, the police searched their RV. Ademo and Pete said the police told them to turn over the keys to the vehicle and threatened to break a window to gain entry if the keys were not provided to them. After the RV was searched, it was towed to an impound lot.
Ademo and Pete said their pants were taken away from them and were forced to sleep in freezing cells without blankets or toilet paper. They were not given the opportunity to make phone calls or bail themselves out of jail. They were released from jail and arraigned the following day.
They were eventually given a joint trial at which they defended themselves pro se. A jury acquitted them of all charges.
The lawsuit also mentions an incident during which Ademo was issued a jaywalking citation by Greenfield police while passing out flyers to raise awareness about his case. According to the lawsuit, the citation was issued in retaliation for Ademo exercising his First Amendment rights.
The lawsuit names Todd M. Dodge and other unspecified Greenfield police officers as defendants. The lawsuit also names the town of Greenfield as a defendant for failing to properly train its police force and hold them accountable for misconduct.
In his Cop Block post, Ademo expressed dissatisfaction with how the justice system handled his case:
Was justice served? No, of course not, the settlement doesn’t make what happened to me right or even whole for that matter. Those involved in this from the other end barely faced any repercussion from their actions either. Probably just the headache Pete and I gave them for a year at the most... I fully acknowledge the world we live in and wish more than anything we could have a system that provides actual justice, but until than, slave world justice it is.
Pete, who is an outspoken, self-described voluntaryist, told me last year that he made the decision to not be involved with the lawsuit. “My rationale is that I don’t want to grant legitimacy to institutions founded on coercion,” he said.
The settlement with Ademo is the second by Greenfield police in recent months. In December, the police reached a confidential settlement with Oliver Rich, who alleged that police pulled him over, tasered him in the groin, and refused to take him to the hospital.
The incident with Ademo and Pete was not the first time the Greenfield police invoked a spurious wiretapping against someone for recording them. In 2007, Greenfield police charged Emily Peyton with wiretapping after she recorded the arrest of an antiwar protester. The charges were later dropped.