Police caught on camera trying to trump up charges against protester

As part of a lawsuit by the ACLU of Connecticut against state police, astonishing video has surfaced of officers struggling to fabricate charges to pin on a protester after they arrested him and illegally seized his camera—which, unbeknownst to them, was still recording.

On Sept. 11, 2015, Connecticut police arrested Michael Picard, a privacy and open-carry activist, when they spotted him on a highway traffic island near a DUI checkpoint holding a sign that said, “Cops ahead, remain silent.” The officers illegally confiscated Picard’s pistol and SLR-style camera, the ACLU contends, and the footage depicts them beset by panic when they realize Picard has a valid permit for the gun.

“Gotta cover our ass,” says one officer. Another offers suggestions for criminal charges that might stick. “Crap! I mean, we can hit him with creating a public disturbance,” another officer says, while the third suggests that they claim that bystanders didn’t want to offer statements, which supposedly forced them to take action.

All criminal charges against Picard were eventually dismissed, and the ACLU has filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court, contending that they violated Picard’s First and Fourth Amendment rights. Watch the troubling video below.