- Associated Press - Saturday, November 26, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri activist known for filming on-duty police officers has appealed a federal judge’s ruling that dismissed his civil rights case against police and prosecutors.

Matt Akins runs the Facebook page Citizens for Justice, where he publishes videos of police on duty and often criticizes police practices. His federal lawsuit claims his rights were violated during several encounters with law enforcement.

The Columbia resident is asking the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey’s decision to dismiss his case against the city of Columbia and five law enforcement officers, the Columbia Daily Tribune (https://bit.ly/2gex98I) reported.

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In one incident cited in the lawsuit, Akins claims he was told during a June 2010 traffic stop that him keeping a legally owned rifle on the back seat of his car could have resulted “in his summary execution by an officer that felt concerned for his safety by a firearm being in the vehicle.”

He said the officer told him a jury would acquit him in his homicide due to officer safety concerns, Akins’ attorney wrote in an 80-page brief filed last week with the appellate court.

Akin says an arrest for having a handgun in his car at a DWI checkpoint and an unlawful search after a July 2011 traffic stop also were among the violations of his rights.

Laughrey ruled in favor of the city and police in early August.

In that decision, she said “neither the public nor the media has a First Amendment right” to videotape, photograph or record open government proceedings.

Akins’ appeal also restores as defendants Boone County, prosecuting attorney Dan Knight and two of Knight’s former assistants. The prosecutors were dismissed after Laughrey ruled they were entitled to absolute immunity, which shields prosecutors from lawsuits in almost any circumstance.

Brad Letterman, attorney for the city, declined to comment. Attorneys for the county and prosecutors did not respond to a message seeking comment.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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