PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A woman has filed a lawsuit claiming police unfairly arrested her for recording an incident at a North Versailles movie theater.
Melanie Carter says she started recording because she thought a group of young people were being treated unfairly and were targeted for their race.
The video went viral with more than 1 million views on social media. It’s now the basis for a federal civil rights lawsuit.
“She was taken to the ground through unjustified use of force, arrested, and then had criminal charges, false criminal charges, filed against her, which she had to fight,” civil rights attorney Alec Wright said.
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Carter began recording North Versailles Police officer Chris Kelly because she believed he was unjustly removing some African-American kids from the Phoenix Stadium movie theater.
Her attorney says everyone has the right to record police officers.
“Melanie Carter was recording a police officer performing his official functions. She wasn’t obstructing. She wasn’t interfering. But Christopher Kelly, this police officer, didn’t like that,” Wright said.
Carter was arrested on several counts, but the court threw out the charges. Since then, Carter has felt uncomfortable living in the Pittsburgh area and has moved to Philadelphia.
Her lawyer says, however, she’s strong enough to file a federal lawsuit.
“They messed with the wrong strong black woman because she had the courage to make that video public and to fight the criminal process, to do what was right and to continue on through a civil rights lawsuit,” Wright said.
There was no immediate reaction Wednesday from the North Versailles Police Department.
Wright is a member of the Timothy O’Brien law firm, a civil rights law firm in Pittsburgh.