NEVADA – A Reno resident, Walter England, is pursuing legal action against the Reno Police Department, claiming he was unlawfully arrested while exercising his First Amendment rights.
The incident occurred on the evening of August 22 when Walter England was walking through downtown Reno near the intersection of West 2nd and N Virginia. England engaged in recording a police investigation for several minutes. He approached two Reno Police vehicles, with Officer Gautier in the first vehicle. After a brief exchange with Gautier, England moved on to the second car and began recording Officer Hoyt.
During the encounter, Officer Hoyt asked if he could assist England, to which England continued recording while inquiring about the ongoing crime scene. Hoyt then requested that England step away from the vehicle, mentioning that he was on a personal call.
Engaging in a conversation, England responded, “This is our vehicle, the city’s vehicle.” According to England, Officer Hoyt abruptly exited the vehicle and approached him, claiming he was interfering with the investigation. Despite England keeping his phone between himself and Officer Hoyt, he was arrested without apparent cause. The entire incident was recorded on camera.
Walter England operates the YouTube channel “Sacramento Crimewatch,” where he records law enforcement personnel and other public servants during their duties. He is passionate about holding public servants accountable and ensuring their actions are transparent.
The right to film police officers in public view has been a subject of debate across the United States, framed as a First Amendment issue. Under Nevada law (NRS 171.1233), the public has the right to film police officers as long as they are on public property and do not obstruct ongoing investigations.
This incident is not isolated, as a similar unlawful arrest took place on September 18 while England was filming for Sacramento Crimewatch. Although no charges were filed, and no court date was set, the arrest has prompted England to file a lawsuit alleging false arrest. He hopes to set a precedent and raise awareness that such arrests are unacceptable.
As of now, the Reno Police Department has not issued a response to the lawsuit.
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