Man vindicated for videotaping his own traffic stop
Felony wiretapping charges tossed
Maryland state police were wrong to arrest and charge a man for taping his own traffic stop and posting it on YouTube, a judge ruled earlier this week.
Motorcyclist Anthony Graber was charged with illegal wiretapping for recording plainclothes state trooper J.D. Uhler jumping from his unmarked sedan and drawing his gun -- and waiting a good five seconds before identifying himself as a police officer. The tape was shot with a conspicuous, helmet-mounted camera that captured the video and audio of the confrontation.
On Monday, a Maryland state judge stated in no uncertain terms that the felony charge never should have been filed.
“Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public,” Circuit Court Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr. wrote. “When we exercise that power in a public forum, we should not expect our activity to be shielded from public scrutiny.”
The stop took place on the side of a busy highway in full view of the public.
“Under such circumstances, I cannot, by any stretch, conclude that the troopers had any reasonable expectation of privacy in their conversation with the defendant which society would be prepared to recognize as reasonable.”
In fairness to the trooper, the video shows Graber zig zagging in and out of traffic and, at one point, popping a wheelie at what appears to be close to 100 mph. The motorcyclist paid the ticket and thought that would be the end of it.
But after he posted the video on YouTube, police raided his home, hauled away his computers and the state's attorney charged him under a law that went onto the books before cell phones even existed.
Graber is one of an increasing number of US citizens who have been criminally charged for videotaping cops as they go about their official duties in public places. He was defended by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland. ®
It's not the gun, it's the camera that got him upset ...
Police, patrolling on their own, frequently draw their weapons when it comes to stopping people, often at the end of a loudspeaker and locking their fingers behind their heads, lying on the ground, etc. in the US of A. The police often handcuff a topped person 'for their own safety' (the civilian's and not the Plod's).
I took up using a motorcycle in a very, very busy city of 12,000,000 people where the driving is simply atrocious about 5 years ago. When foreigners are involved in collisions they are invariably expected to pay irrespective of guilt, made more difficult as numerous 'witnesses' come forward to testify against the foreigner.
I fitted an Oregon Scientific waterproof minicam to my helmet, concealed in a moulded fibre glass 'lump' on my helmet; I have never been held responsible for payment of any damages by the police since using it. The traffic police love seeing my accident videos. On a few occasions I have been stopped for bribery collection, by police, for driving in a car lane as opposed to a motorcycle lane and on every occasion when the police became aware of the camera they have simply returned my money and said Go!
Seems that the Plod, in the West, think they have more rights and privileges than the public and whilst they can video anything with impunity, the Plod get very uptight when the public pulls a 'Rodney King' clip of taping the Plod doing illegal things.
I hope this motorcyclist does the 'American thing' and sues for wrongful arrest.
A child in Africa dies when you speed or pull wheelies.
"In fairness to trooper...."
Did you watch a different video?
a) There's no way in hell that cop car saw him pulling the wheelie
b) There's no way in hell the cop saw him going above 90mph.
c) Weaving? I never saw any weaving and in fairness to the rider, aside from using his mirrors he turned his head a lot to check blind spots. Maybe with the camera shaking about you thought it was weaving?
d) Did you see any flashing blue lights? Neither did I. Wouldn't you feel aggrieved if a random guy in an unmarked car cut in front of you, jumped out of his car and pulled a gun on you?
What possible excuse was there for drawing his gun?
Seems to me they tried to prosecute him because he exposed the shortcomings of one of their officers.