When Police Need to be Policed: the East Hartford Police Cover-up Case

Problems in our criminal justice system are becoming a hot conversation topic, especially in light of shows like “Making a Murderer.” For most people, the idea of police planting evidence only happens in TV crime shows.

Not so fast…

As the best Connecticut criminal defense attorneys and lawyers know all too well, it actually happens more than you think. The problem is that it’s not always so easy to prove.

The East Hartford Connecticut Michael Picard Scandal & Why It’s Important to Every Single Connecticut Arrest

You may not have heard of Michael Picard’s Connecticut case. That’s because it’s one of the best kept secrets in Connecticut police misconduct history

The top criminal lawyers attorneys in Hartford Connecticut know the case well: Mr. Picard, who carried a pistol lawfully with a permit, was legally protesting in East Hartford, Connecticut. Officers took his phone, pistol, and permit – all without a warrant. After realizing Mr. Picard had done nothing illegal, they concocted and literally made up 3 bogus charges against Picard to cover themselves.

How do we know the police committed this misconduct? Unfortunately for the officers, Mr. Picard’s cell phone – which the police seized with no legal right to do so – recorded the police conspiring about making up charges.

The ACLU Comes to the Rescue

Because of the fake charges trumped up against him, Mr. Picard spent a year in and out of court before the charges were finally dismissed. That’s right, ONE YEAR OF PICARD’S CASE, spending thousands in attorney’s fees, to fight the case, even when, according to reports, Mr. Picard had video recordings of the cops lying, making up allegations, and saying they “gotta cover their ass.”

Sound unfair? That’s because it is. And, when Mr. Picard requested an internal affairs investigation against the officers involved, nothing meaningful came of it.

The American Civil Liberties Union or “ACLU” took Mr. Picard’s case. In September, the ACLU filed this lawsuit in Connecticut Federal Court, against the three East Hartford Police officers. While all eyes will be watching this Hartford Connecticut civil rights case closely, there are a few lessons to take away from this case right now…

# 1: You Can Usually Record Police Officers with Your Cell Phone / Iphone

As the best Connecticut criminal law firms can explain, just as police can record you with their body cams without your permission, you can record police with your iphones and cell phones without their permission, so long as you aren’t interfering with their ability to do their job. This means that if you are on public property, then you can take a photo of anything in plain sight, including a government official performing his or her duties.

#2: Connecticut Police Cannot Seize or Search Your Cell Phone without Probable Cause

Another popular question that the top criminal lawyers in Stamford and Greenwich Connecticut often hear is “can officers search my cell phone?” Generally speaking, no.

The United States Supreme Court recently dealt with this issue and ruled that police officers usually need a warrant before searching the contents of a cell phone. While you never want to be hostile toward an officer, you should know the difference between what is legal and what is not. It’s never comfortable to challenge a police officer, especially when multiple officers are involved, but you have rights and you have remedies in court, if those rights are violated.

#3: If You Believe Connecticut Police Violated Your Civil Rights, Contact an Experienced Criminal Lawyer.

If you are in a situation like Mr. Picard’s, consult a top Connecticut defense attorney immediately. These lawyers will carefully scrutinize your police reports and ask the tough questions. Was there an illegal search or seizure, as in Mr. Picard’s case? Were you questioned without being advised of your Miranda rights? Are there sworn statements from witnesses, or did the police just claim they talked to unnamed people or received an anonymous report?

Your top Greenwich, Darien and Wilton Connecticut criminal lawyers can file motions in court to preserve helpful evidence that might otherwise disappear, like surveillance footage or DNA evidence. With your criminal record and reputation on the line, you need an experienced Connecticut criminal law firm who cannot only fight your criminal case, but also preserve your civil rights and remedies.

Contact the Mark Sherman Law Firm Today

If you have been wrongfully arrested or issued a ticket / summons in Connecticut, don’t go it alone. As we know from Mr. Picard’s case, even cases of true innocence with proof to back it up can take a full year to fight in court. So contact a criminal law firm who will fight your charges as cost-effectively and as quickly as possible. The Mark Sherman team of attorneys is experienced in all of Connecticut’s criminal courthouses. To check out our Avvo-certified reviews from real past clients, click here. Call us today—we are available 24/7 at (203) 358-4700.