The WFSB photographer being investigated for using a drone at the site of a Hartford Police investigation has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the department.
According to The Hartford Courant, the lawsuit, filed by Pedro Rivera, alleges Hartford Police violated the fourth amendment rights of the CBS affiliate’s employee after officers detained him, demanded he stop flying his drone and made him leave the area.
Rivera was flying his drone over the site of a fatal crash in which the bodies were still in the vehicle. WFSB has denied it owns or uses drones.
Lt. Brian Foley, commander of the department’s major crimes division, called Rivera’s employer and requested that he be disciplined, the lawsuit alleges. Rivera was suspended for a week without pay as a result and suffered economic loss, it claims. Rivera is employed as a photographer and an editor at WFSB, the lawsuit states.
Foley and Sgt. Edward Yergeau are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
A police report of the incident states that officers and supervisors at the scene of the crash on the 2000 block of Main Street noticed the drone, which was equipped with a camera, hovering over the site.
Rivera, 29, told the officers he works for WFSB but that he was not working that day and that the drone was his personal property. He also said that he feeds video back to WFSB as part of his work for the station, the report states.
At the time, police said they were concerned that a drone flying over the investigation site would compromise the integrity of the scene and the victim’s privacy.
The FAA prohibits the use of drones for commercial purposes and is investigating the incident.