Des Moines Residents Will Shell Out $125,000 To Man Whose Phone Was Illegally Seized By Cops He Was Recording

In May 2018, Des Moines resident and radio producer Daniel Robbins was recording illegally parked cars near the police station. Some of these illegally parked cars were driven by police officers. Detective Brad Youngblut, on his way towards his (possibly illegally parked) vehicle noticed Robbins and decided to start hassling him.

This hassling continued for about 12 minutes. By the end of it, Robbins was surrounded by police officers and no longer had possession of his cell phone and camera. The excuse given for this seizure was… well, no real excuse was given until the Youngblut and the officers were sued. This is what was said at the time:

Detective Youngblut suggested that the officers “just make a suspicious activity case . . . [and] confiscate the camera until we have a reason for what we’re doing.”

Just making some shit up, basically. Once sued, the detective claimed reported car vandalism in the area, as well as a murder of a couple of cops somewhere else in the country by a person filming them, was all the justification he needed to stop Robbins and seize his recording equipment. Also: loitering.

What was left unexplained to any court’s satisfaction was why Robbins’ property was seized and why it took the Des Moines PD 12 days to return it to him. The Eighth Circuit Appeals Court said Robbins’ Fourth Amendment allegations were credible, reversing the granting of immunity to officers by the lower court.