Lawsuit claims Wheat Ridge police arrested man after he recorded traffic stop

Posted at 3:50 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 21:21:16-04

A man is suing the Wheat Ridge Police Department, claiming officers arrested him after he made a video of a traffic stop.  

In June 2015, Elijah Wesbrock walked up to a traffic stop and decided to “record his observations without in any way interfering with or impeding the officers in their traffic stop,” according to the lawsuit. 

Wesbrock’s video shows officers approached him and asked what he was doing, then asked for his identification. The video also shows police shined a bright blinking light in Wesbrock’s direction as he refused to give his identification. He and the officers continued “unpleasant exchanges” until the officers drove away, according to the lawsuit.

Watch the full, unedited video embedded in the player below or by clicking here.

After police left, Wesbrock crossed the street, at which point the officers “did a U-turn and came back to Plaintiff claiming that they now had reasonable suspicion to obtain his identification as he had just committed the offense of jaywalking.”

The video shows police telling Wesbrock to turn off the camera so they could arrest him. According to the lawsuit, police then handcuffed Wesbrock and gave him a summons for jaywalking.

“The Wheat Ridge Police Department needs to train their officers -- take a little bit off the firing range, put a little bit more into constitutional law, teach them what the First Amendment is all about," said attorney David Lane, who is representing Wesbrock in his suit. "Citizens have a right to videotape police action."

According to the lawsuit, Wesbrock's jaywalking summons was dismissed because he crossed the street legally.

A Wheat Ridge Police Department spokesperson said the agency cannot comment on pending litigation. But the day after the video was posted to YouTube, the department posted on Facebook: 

The video of Wesbrock's encounter with Wheat Ridge police is posted on a YouTube account that includes videos of similar encounters with law enforcement in Arizona. The video captions refer to the practice of recording police as "audits" and encourage viewers to know their rights.