Huntington man filed federal lawsuit against Huntington Police, - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Huntington man filed federal lawsuit against Huntington Police, City of Huntington

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September 29, 2011, Huntington Police pulled a vehicle over and started searching it.  Joseph Pniewski of Huntington captures it all on tape.

"Sir, could I ask what you are doing?" asks on of the officers.  "I'm recording what's going on for the purpose of community response," said Pniewski.

He said he's a freelance investigative journalist.  He adds the purpose of the video he shot last September is to further document what he says are questionable practices by Huntington Police. 

"We are conducting something and we don't want people involved in this area so I'm going to have to ask you to move around the corner," said the officer to Pniewski

However, Pniewski moves back and continues recording.

"Sir did you hear what I said?  It's a safety reason.  I don't know who you are.  You may have a gun on you. You may have a knife on you," said the officer.

Pniewski is later arrested and charged with obstructing.  He has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Huntington and three police officers, seeking an undisclosed amount of money and a First Amendment policy regarding the rights of citizens during encounters with police.  Pniewski would not comment on the lawsuit, but his attorney Courtney Craig says they intend to let the tape speak for itself and let the chips fall where they may with the jury. 

Huntington City Attorney Scott McClure says he hasn't been served a copy of the complaint.  He would not comment on camera but said the matter would be referred to the city's insurance company who will defend it. 

After Pniewski was taken into custody officers seized his camera and erased the footage.  A computer technician was able to retrieve it.  The obstructing charge was later dropped by a special prosecutor in this case.


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