Editor sues police over seizure and arrest

Posted January 25, 2008

Roberto Lima, Brazilian Voice

Newspaper editor Lima filed a civil lawsuit against police in Newark, New Jersey, accusing the department of unlawfully seizing photos at a crime scene. On September 6, 2007, Lima, editor of the Portuguese-language weekly, Brazilian Voice, and his staff discovered a dead body, reported it to the police, and then directed officers to the location of the corpse.

Upon arriving at the scene, a Newark police commander ordered the editor not to publish any photographs of the deceased, according to Lima’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark on January 23. The police commander then physically seized Lima’s camera and electronic storage card, according to the complaint. Lima offered to provide police with the original images as long as he could keep copies.

The editors and two members of his staff were escorted by police officers to a Newark police station to file police reports concerning their discovery of the corpse. At the station, police officers demanded from the journalists all original electronic and copies of images they had taken of the dead body, and, after Lima refused, arrested him, handcuffing him a bench in the police station, according to the complaint. Officers removed the handcuffs after Lima agreed to turn over all images. Officers accompanied the editor of the paper’s offices, where Lima handed over a disk containing images of the corpse. Lima was never charged with any crime. Nor was any warrant ever produced for the seizure of the images.

Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy said in a statement that he could not comment on the lawsuit, according to The Associated Press.