Monday, June 28, 2010

Citizens Arrested for Filming Police

ANOTHER person has been arrested for trying to record police in Maryland. Yvonne Nicole Shaw was arrested by St. Mary's sheriff's deputies responding to a noise complaint last weekend at a Lexington Park neighborhood. Sheriff's Cpl. Patrick Handy wrote in a report saw her holding her cell phone "in a manner suggesting she was recording our activity" seized the phone, reviewed the camcorder contents, and "could hear my voice and the voices of the other subjects I was talking to". "She did admit to recording our encounter on her cell phone," the corporal wrote, "for the purpose of trying to show the police are harassing people." Yvonne was arrested, charged under Maryland Wiretapping Laws, and taken to a St Mary's county jail.

"I honestly did not know that I was not able to do that," Shaw said. "He just snatched my phone from me and locked me up."

Earlier this year a Maryland resident was arrested and charged under the same law for recording a traffic stop. In March of this year the cyclist, Anthoy Grabber, a 25 year old staff sergeant for the Maryland Air National Guard, was driving a motorcycle wearing a helmet mounted camera to record the ride. A plain clothed police officer in an unmarked vehicle pulled Graber over for riding at an excessive speed. The officer approached Graber with his gun in hand and did not immediately identify himself as a police officer. Graber was issued a speeding ticket, which he admits he was guilty of.

The trouble started when Graber posted the video of the incident on Youtube. On April 8, Graber was awakened by six armed police officers raiding his parents Abington, MD home where he lived with his wife and two children. Graber spent 26 hours in jail and could face up to 16 years in prison if convicted on the wiretapping laws he was charged with.

Maryland wiretapping laws were the same ones used against Linda Trip for recording a phone conversation with Monica Lewinsky regarding her relationship with President Bill Clinton. The Maryland wiretapping law requires both parties to have a Maryland requires that there be a "reasonable expectation of privacy.", which police apparently believe is the case when they are writing a ticket or making an arrest. This notion conflicts with an August 2000 legal opinion by the state's attorney general who wrote that "many encounters between uniformed police officers and citizens could hardly be characterized as 'private conversations' " and that "any driver pulled over by a uniformed officer in a traffic stop is acutely aware that his or her statements are being made to a police officer and, indeed, that they may be repeated as evidence in a courtroom."

Maryland now has hundreds of cameras watching citizens for speed and red light violations. Citizens are told "there is no expectation of privacy in public places". In addition, many police cruisers have dashboard mounted cameras for recording incidents.

APPARENTLY in Maryland, only police are entitled to the expectation of privacy in public places.