NORTH ST. LOUIS ( - A Dellwood woman is suing a North County Police Cooperative officer, alleging he violated her first amendment rights when he tried to stop her from recording an interaction at a gas station.

The confrontation happened in August when Sarah Townsend was at a Mobil Gas Station on West Florissant. She was talking to a man in a wheelchair when an officer arrived and said he was taking the man to jail.

Townsend said the officer tried to arrest the man for panhandling even though she says the man wasn't bothering her.

"He lives in the area, he was not begging," said Townsend.

Townsend says when she started recording with her phone, the officer took it from her and threw it in her car. When she continued recording, she says the officer turned it off, put it in his pocket and threatened to arrest her.

The lawsuit was filed by lawyers from the ACLU and the First Amendment Clinic at Washington University Law School.

The North County Police Cooperative says they are unaware of the lawsuit and added that they are looking into it.

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