Amherst student sues police over false arrest, smashed phone, pepper sprayed and charged for filming cops

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A University of Massachusetts Amherst student is suing the Amherst police for smashing his iPhone after charging him during a disturbance. Thomas Donovan alleges that he was assaulted and falsely arrested for filming an arrest last March.

Donovan was arrested during an annual pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebration known as the Blarney Blowout. According to Donovan’s lawsuit, the Amherst senior was filming the police officers make an arrest with his phone when he was approached by a police officer in full riot gear who tried to make him stop recording the scene. In the film, Donovan shouts at the officer that he has “freedom to fucking film” at which point the police officer sprays him with pepper spray, approaches him, and tells him that he’s going to be arrested. Donovan keeps recording, and another officer approaches him, knocks his phone out of his hand and subsequently tries to stomp it to pieces with the sole of his shoe. The phone, however, was protected by its case and managed to film the entire incident, reported local news sources.

Based on the footage, all criminal charges brought against Donovan during the altercation were dropped, and the university, which had temporarily suspended him, revoked the suspension. Jesus Arocho, Andrew Hulse and John Does One, Two and Three are named as defendants in the suit.

“The goal of the lawsuit is to obtain money damages to compensate Mr. Donovan, as well as to vindicate his first Amendment right to videotape officers in public,” David Milton, an attorney representing Donovan, told the Daily Hampshire Gazette.