According to the lawsuit, Watchulonis complied but Bentley detained him before Cantin arrested him for criminal trespassing.
“The most disturbing part of my detention was being brazenly lied to and threatened by senior APD officers in front of more than a dozen junior officers with body cams recording,” Watchulonis said in a statement. “It was a dark classroom lesson in how to violate a journalist’s rights.”
The training center site has been the scene of violent protests, and the fatal shooting by police of a protester who they allege fired first at officers, wounding one.
Watchulonis is seeking financial damages and an order for police not to interfere with lawfully recording police activities.
Cantin allegedly told Watchulonis: “Anybody that parks in that park is one of your little forest people.” More than an hour later later, the unnamed officer arrived wearing plain clothes and carrying a notepad and asked if Watchulonis was involved with Defend the Forest, the lawsuit says.
A number of protesters who have identified with the Defend the Forest movement have been arrested on weighty domestic terrorism charges that can carry a sentence of decades in federal prison.
“I am going to ask you to delete all the footage that you have today since it has been obtained illegally to begin with — and depending on how the rest of this interview goes will determine whether or not you are going to be arrested,” the unnamed offer allegedly said.
The lawsuit states that when Watchulonis said “he would not delete images or show the officers his footage, the unnamed officers said: `Let’s go ahead and seize it.’”
The lawsuit says the officer later suggested that they issue Watchulonis a citation and give him back his photography equipment.
A city spokesman declined to comment on pending litigation.