Denver appeals court upholds right to record police

A federal appeals court based in Denver has agreed with six of the nation’s other 12 appeals courts that the First Amendment guarantee of free speech gives people the right to film police as they do their work in public.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday in the case of a YouTube journalist and blogger who claimed that a suburban Denver officer blocked him from recording a 2019 traffic stop. Citing decisions from the other courts, the 10th Circuit said the right to record police was clearly established at the time and reinstated the lawsuit of the blogger, Abade Irizarry.

A lower court had said the right wasn't clearly established at the time, preventing the officer from being sued. U.S. government lawyers intervened in the appeal to support the public’s right to record police.

The court oversees four western and two midwestern states — Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah — as well as parts of Yellowstone National Park that lie in Idaho and Montana.

The ruling comes after Arizona’s Republican governor last week signed a law that went the opposite direction, making it illegal in Arizona to knowingly video police officers 8 feet (2.5 meters) or closer without an officer’s permission.