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Traffic stop video on YouTube sparks debate on police use of Md. wiretap laws

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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-20-10 09:33 PM
Original message
Traffic stop video on YouTube sparks debate on police use of Md. wiretap laws
Traffic stop video on YouTube sparks debate on police use of Md. wiretap laws


In early March, Anthony Graber, a 25-year-old staff sergeant for the Maryland Air National Guard, was humming a tune while riding his two-year-old Honda motorcycle down Interstate 95, not far from his home north of Baltimore. On top of his helmet was a camera he often used to record his journeys. The camera was rolling when an unmarked gray sedan cut him off as he stopped behind several other cars along Exit 80.

From the driver's side emerged a man in a gray pullover and jeans. The man, who was wielding a gun, repeatedly yelled at Graber, ordering him to get off his bike. Only then did Maryland State Trooper Joseph D. Uhler identify himself as "state police" and holster his weapon. Graber, who'd been observed popping a wheelie while speeding, was cited for doing 80 in a 65 mph zone. Graber accepted his ticket, which he says he deserved.

A week later, on March 10, Graber posted his video of the encounter on YouTube. What followed wasn't a furor over the police officer's behavior but over Graber's use of a camera to capture the entire episode.

On April 8, Graber was awakened by six officers raiding his parents' home in Abingdon, Md., where he lived with his wife and two young children. He learned later that prosecutors had obtained a grand jury indictment alleging he had violated state wiretap laws by recording the trooper without his consent.

The case has ignited a debate over whether police are twisting a decades-old statute intended to protect people from government intrusions of privacy to, instead, keep residents from recording police activity.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...
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PM Martin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-20-10 09:41 PM
Response to Original message
1. Police are not your friends.
Edited on Sun Jun-20-10 10:00 PM by PM Martin
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RC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-20-10 10:35 PM
Response to Original message
2. It is not ileagle to photograph anything from public property, as streets and sidewalks.
Edited on Sun Jun-20-10 10:44 PM by RC
There were no wiretaps or recording of conversations of other people involved.
Counter sue for harassment.

As an amateur photographer this is my opinion and I'm sticking to it, backed up by...

Some sources:
http://www.legalandrew.com/2007/10/11/photo-law-your-ri... /

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm



If you can see it, you can shoot it

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way. Aside from sensitive government buildings (e.g., military bases), if you're on public property you can photograph anything you like, including private property. There are some limits using a zoom lens to shoot someone who has a reasonable expectation of privacy isn't covered but no one can come charging out of a business and tell you not to take photos of the building, period.

Further, they cannot demand your camera or your digital media or film. Well, they can demand it, but you are under no obligation to give it to them. In fact, only an officer of the law or court can take it from you, and then only with a court order. And if they try or threaten you? They can be charged with theft or coercion, and you may even have civil recourse. Cool. (For details, see "The Photographer's Right.")
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/andrewkantor/200...


Edit to add: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/andrewkantor/200...
Since then, I've seen an incredible amount of misinformation bandied about, and I've had a lot of questions posted on my blog that tell me people aren't getting the message. Worse, I've read accounts of photographers being harassed for perfectly legal behavior by people whose ignorance of the law ought to get them in trouble.

The most notable was the story of Neftaly Cruz, a senior at Penn State who on July 19 was not only harassed but taken into custody by Philadelphia police for obstructing an investigation. How did he do this? By taking pictures of the cops while standing on a public street.

Cruz's actions were absolutely and undoubtedly legal, and not surprisingly he was released without being charged with anything.

It's not just cops who need reeducation classes. Last week I received a note from a reader:
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Hosnon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-20-10 10:39 PM
Response to Original message
3. I absolutely hate these b.s. laws about not being able to record a state employee without consent.
Edited on Sun Jun-20-10 10:40 PM by Hosnon
What horseshit.

Shame on the attorneys for pressing charges.
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KonaKane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-20-10 10:44 PM
Response to Original message
4. I hope the cops are taken to the mat on this.
It's beyond ridiculous that a citizen is not free to record law enforcement proceedings against them. The cops certainly do the same.
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jp11 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-20-10 11:11 PM
Response to Original message
5. I know it is more complicated than this but I'd love to see someone with a
camera filming shouting "I'm filming if you get in my shot you have consented to being on tape.", with signs on their car saying 'amateur filmmaker always recording everything in sight of this car'. IF that worked on the basis I've seen in at least one story of a TV news crew being so obvious that they escape the 'wiretapping' law then everyone could keep police locked up in the station by just wearing signs saying "I'm filming the front of the police station, if you pass by you have consented to being filmed." or hauling around old VHS camcorders on their shoulders.


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Heywood J Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-20-10 11:58 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I've sometimes been tempted to try the latter.
I have an old VHS camera that's anything but unobtrusive. I've been tempted to keep it in the car with an official-looking microphone.

"We're broadcasting live from ______, where our cameras caught police using questionable force on a suspect being arrested for _____. The takedown was done in a manner that some are calling brutality..."
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Better Today Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-10 01:59 AM
Response to Original message
7. Don't the police in MD have cameras recording their stuff? I know
around here, they have video recording on the dash and audio recording on their shoulders, or just off their shoulders. Do we give them permission for that? They sure use them in court without anyone's permission of having taken them in the first place. How is this different, save for the fact of who is taking the video?
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