Avi Adelman is a free man.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit informed Adelman on Tuesday that the agency is dropping criminal trespassing charges. Adelman, a self-described citizen journalist and well-known gadfly, was arrested by DART police while photographing an incident at Rosa Parks Plaza, a transit hub in downtown Dallas.
“A review of the arrest revealed that it was not consistent with DART Police policies and directives and therefore the case will not be filed with the Dallas County District Attorney,” read the letter, which DART spokesman Morgan Lyons forwarded to the media on Monday. “Although the officer’s actions appear to be within her authority, they are not in line with department directives concerning photography on DART property. A formal review of all aspects of the incident is underway.”
DART was initially dismissive of Adelman’s claim of wrongful arrest. “We have reviewed the exchange and believe the officers acted properly,” Lyons wrote in an email last week. “Dallas Fire Rescue asked him to move. He refused. Paramedics asked us to ask him to move several times. He failed to comply, and that’s why he was arrested. Photography is allowed in our public spaces but we also expect people to comply with the instructions of a police officer. This is especially true when paramedics tell us the actions of a photographer affect their ability to provide care.”
Dallas Fire-Rescue, however, disputed DART’s assertion that paramedics asked Adelman to move. “At no point were any requests made to ask Mr. Adelman to leave the scene and/or stop taking pictures,“ spokesman Jason Evans told Fox 4. “In addition, there were no requests made to [DART] officers to ask him to leave the scene and/or stop taking pictures.”
The officer’s actions, which Adelman recorded on his camera, also seemed to run counter to First Amendment case law. The right of citizens to photograph police actions on public property is fairly well-established.
Adelman, paraphrasing his lawyer, described DART’s missive today as “the best cover-your-ass letter he’s ever seen from a governmental agency.” Adelman said he will be discussing any future action on First Amendment issues with his attorneys.