ABC News ran a story on the growing number of prosecutions for private citizens videotaping police misconduct. The main story highlighted in the article was a guy who had a helmet mounted video camera, which taped a plain-clothes police officer swerving in front of the motorcyclist, slamming on his brakes, and jumping out with his gun in hand.
Was the officer disciplined for this act of cowboyism? I don’t think so. Instead the motorcyclist is being prosecuted for videotaping the officer without his consent. The state police in Maryland actually busted into the guy’s house, searched it, and confiscated his computer and hard drive, and then indicted him for a felony violation of Maryland’s wiretapping laws.
Okay, arrest the guy for reckless driving. I don’t have any problem with that. But give me a break. This is a bunch of garbage. Our only means of protecting ourselves from cowboy cops is the video camera. Almost every police prosecution that you see was forced due to the cop’s actions being caught on tape. The cops know this, and they try their best to keep citizens from filming them. The newspapers are full of people being arrested for “obstruction” or whatever, for filming cops.
The motorcyclist had a camera on his helmet. He didn’t know that this cowboy was going to jump out at him waving his gun. I am assuming cops in Maryland have dash mounted video cameras (although I am sure they are not on when it suits them not to be on). Does that mean that every cop in Maryland with a dash cam is guilty of felony violations of Maryland wiretapping laws? Don’t hold your breath for those prosecutions.
Obviously there is a double standard out there. And people are getting tired of it. I had a client who videotaped police shooting tear gas through his windows and them busting in with gas masks, AR-15,s and taser guns, then tasing him, and probably ended with them dragging him out of the picture. What happened to the video? It was confiscated by the police and never returned. When I was finally able to see it, it conveniently “ended” before the gas grenades were shot into the house.
Gestapo tactics. The ironic thing is, you see this sort of stuff from cops in suburbia, or other areas where there is very little real crime. Just ask a real cop who has worked in the trenches – NYPD, LAPD, Charlotte PD, Atlanta PD, who deal with all sorts of crap and scumbags – they rarely engage in cowboyism, they have enough to worry about.