You may recall that Farago posted that video of the policeman stopping the motorcyclist in, Why You Should Never Make A Cop Angry or Nervous. Well, posting the video on Youtube sure made the cops angry – and nervous.
The ACLU has taken up the case of the motorcyclist. Not only does the group contend he had every right to record the stop, but they say they plan to argue that state police charged him only to retaliate for posting the humiliating video on YouTube. Police told me they charged him after the video appeared only because that’s how they discovered the stop had been taped. … That trial is scheduled in Harford County on June 1.
During the Monica Lewinsky affair, there was talk of charging Linda Tripp under Maryland’s wiretap law. They didn’t, but this is obviously a much bigger case . . .
In the Baltimore Sun’s Crime Beat blog, Peter Hermann discusses whether it is legal in MD to film/record the police. At issue was both the motorcyclist video and a video of a tussle between police and a fan at the Preakness (which is held only a few miles from here at Pimlico racecourse).
“Statements that a person knowingly exposes to the public are not made with a reasonable expectation of privacy and therefore are not protected as ‘oral communications’ under the state and federal wiretap laws.” . . .
But aside from the law, I hear complaints all the time for from people who say they were told to stop filming police officers or told to stop photographing crime scenes. One explanation that is routinely given is that the person is interfering with the investigation. That certainly can be true, but it doesn’t seem that way in the Preakness case.
With everyone carrying cameras (try and buy a phone without one) and the news beast’s insatiable desire for the raw footage, efforts to quash public recordings of police actions seem futile. And while some cops might like to fly under the radar, the increasing move towards TASER’s AXON helmet-cam system highlights the fact that video and accountability go hand in hand. Anyway, thank God they didn’t shoot the messenger.