The media covered police officers responding to protests in full riot gear, using tanks and pepper spray. Sources report that police in Ferguson would not allow people to film their behavior, and even allegedly took cell phones to delete footage. Some are saying that was unlawful."I think the police did more than they should have and I think that's going to be the subject of a lot of litigation going forward. I've read about people threatening or planning to sue the police for what's going on there, and you know the police have a tough job to do. I think it's a lot tougher than any of us realize in the moment when you've got a riot going on around you to know who's in that riot, who's not in that riot, what's going on around you. At the same time, despite that, I think that the police did overstep what they were allowed to do and I think there are going to be some courts that do end up deciding whether that's true or not," said David Liebow.
Liebow is a criminal defense lawyer in Rochester, Minn. He says that the laws in general surrounding this type of police behavior can be complicated. "Courts around the country have generally held that you have the right to record police when they're performing in public. That is not true necessarily everywhere with some different laws on the book that say that's illegal, but that's a general trend at least towards courts holding that as long as you are not interfering with a police officer and you are in a public place watching police perform their duties in public then you have a right to record police with a cell phone," said Liebow, "You know, even if you're filming a police officer going about their business in public, whether that's walking down the street or arresting someone, you do have a legal obligation to give them the ability to do their job. You can't get in their face with a camera whether you're a member of the press or just Joe Shmoe."
The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled on multiple occasions that it is legal to film police officers who are performing their job in a public place. Multiple investigations have been launched into the possibly unlawful police actions in Ferguson, separate from the investigations into the death of Michael Brown.