Michael Picard has made a hobby of driving through police DUI checkpoints and uploading dashcam footage to YouTube as a way to protest the set-ups and educate people about their rights. He just never imagined he'd catch officers fabricating charges against him, per a civil suit. Picard, 27, of East Hartford, Conn., says he was recording officers from a traffic island at a DUI checkpoint on Sept. 11, 2015, when state trooper John Barone approached him and said someone had complained about a man pointing a gun at people. Picard, who had a pistol on his hip, says Barone then took his gun, permit, and—after knocking it out of his hand first—his camera, reports the Washington Post. Unbeknownst to Barone, the camera was still rolling.
"You want me to punch a number on this either way? We gotta cover our ass," Barone is heard asking troopers Patrick Torneo and John Jacobi after Picard's permit comes back valid, per Courthouse News. They then discuss charging Picard with reckless use of the highway and creating a public disturbance. "And then we claim that in backup, we had multiple people, they didn’t want to stay and give us a statement," Torneo says, per the suit. The charges were eventually dropped, but Picard says his rights were violated. The interaction was "unbelievable" and "shows that police and prosecutors in Connecticut should not be in charge of policing themselves," says an ACLU rep. The Connecticut State Police Unions say the lawsuit is "frivolous and will ultimately be dismissed." (Read more Connecticut stories.)