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David Morse, Photojournalist, Settles Lawsuit With UC Berkeley Over Unlawful Arrest

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The University of California, Berkeley has settled a lawsuit with a photojournalist, paying him $162,500 after he claimed that campus police unlawfully arrested him and confiscated his camera during a student protest in 2009.

Though university spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said that police acted appropriately, the settlement states that UC Berkeley police will be trained to handle journalists differently in the future. Attorneys for the photojournalist, David Morse, 43, disclosed the settlement on Monday.

Morse is an independent photojournalist who volunteers for the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center.

In 2009, he was photographing a protest outside of Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s office where students were rioting against budget cuts and increases in tuition. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the crowd grew incensed, throwing lit torches and flower pots through the windows at the chancellor’s house.

Campus police reportedly saw Morse taking a picture and demanded his camera. Morse was then arrested on six counts, including suspicion of rioting, attempted burglary, vandalism and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.

Morse spent the night at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, and was released on $132,000 bail the next day.

Though police originally obtained a search warrant to use the confiscated photos, Alamenda County Superior Judge invalidated the warrant in 2010.

"From now on, it's going to be clear to all of them that they can no longer engage in this type of activity where they target a journalist or anyone else who is taking pictures," said Morse’s attorney Terry Gross.

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