Snohomish Settles With UW Prof After Police Detained Her for Taking Photos of Power Lines

UW Art Professor Shirley Scheier's project of photographing power lines raised the eyebrows of Snohomish police, so they frisked her, handcuffed her, searched her car, and detained her for 44 minutes. Now Snohomish will be paying her $8,000.

Scheier's story was written up when it happened back in 2007, but her lawsuit stretched until now. The settlement was aided by Judge John Coughenhour's refusal to grant Snohomish's motion to dismiss the suit. In so ruling, he wrote, "An individual's fundamental Fourth Amendment right to be free from 'unreasonable searches and seizures' does not dissipate merely because of generalized, unsubstantiated suspicions of terrorist activity."

Scheier was represented by ACLU volunteer attorneys; the ACLU also won $8,000 for Bogdon Mohora, who was arrested and jailed for photographing SPD officers making an arrest. Other notable, similar cases: Ian Spiers was harassed by SPD, the Dept. of Homeland Security, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for taking pics at the Ballard Locks, and Alex Williams had his memory cards mistakenly taken (and then returned) by an overzealous King County deputy for taking pictures in the Metro Bus Tunnel.

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