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Cop Seeks Wiretapping Charges For Woman Who Videotaped Beating 662

An anonymous reader writes "A police officer who was disciplined for his role in the beating of a Massachusetts man (many broken bones in his face and permanent partial blindness) is looking to bring criminal wiretapping charges against the woman who caught much of the incident on video. The officer received a 45-day suspension for the beating. He does not appear to deny anything that happened in the video, but he apparently thinks it shouldn't have been filmed."
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Cop Seeks Wiretapping Charges For Woman Who Videotaped Beating

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  • by intellitech ( 1912116 ) * on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:09PM (#37101226)

    The full video being available in the second link, but it looks it's being taken on a public street, where police officers should have no expectation of privacy.

    On another note, the individual referred to in the summary (identified in the stub-of-an-article as Michael Sedergren), was not the guy who beat Jones senseless, but in my personal opinion, he's just as dirty, and should have been fired, too.


    “They’re really just trying to intimidate and silence her, but whether she’s charged or not (the tape) can still be used in court,” said attorney Shawn P. Allyn, who represents Jones in a civil rights lawsuit against the police in U.S. District Court.

    Case and point. Guy is a complete dirtbag.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There's no such phrase as "case and point". What you're thinking of is "case in point", and providing a direct quote from an article covering the case already under consideration isn't, in fact, a case in point. It's just a quote.

    • by kwiqsilver ( 585008 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:26PM (#37101402)

      but in my personal opinion, he's just as dirty, and should have been fired, too.

      Fired? Cops don't get fired for beating and killing peons like you and me. They get a paid vacation...I mean disciplinary leave.
      Cops aren't there to protect us from criminals (and as courts have repeatedly said, they're under no obligation to do so). They're there to protect the government class from its greatest foe: us, and to ensure that the other tax feeders can continue to suck us dry without fear that we'll resist. Once you understand the premise, it makes more sense.
      William Grigg [] writes frequently about the constant abuse of power (and physical abuse of innocents) by the cops.

      • by itchythebear ( 2198688 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @09:55PM (#37102090)

        I would like to point out that the cop who did the actual beating was fired and is facing criminal charges. The cop who is filing the complaint (and who received the 45 day suspension) is one of the officers who stood by and watched.

      • This is a textbook example of "I knew it all along" porn. Once you understand the premise of mistaking the accessory who received a mild suspension for the perpetrator who was fired and is now facing criminal charges, it makes more sense.

        The human social order is a more complex beast than a toddler's mine/yours calculus can circumscribe. Of course in any stable society the power elite is protected by the power apparatus, it's practically a chicken and egg problem: which came first, the elite, or that whi

        • I want add that taxation is a smokescreen issue, a public outcry which the power brokers incite to serve their own interests.

          Better regulation could have averted the recent bail-out of the luxury yachts by the work-a-day SUVs. It had nothing to do with the tax code. The power brokers do their magic tricks by inciting a mass protest on the western front when they are up to tricks on the eastern front.

          I mean really, railing about taxation in modern society (it goes up, it goes down) is about the stupidest

    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:33PM (#37101470) Homepage Journal

      He'll win, easily.

      It's illegal to record audio of people without their express permission in Massachusetts []. Period. Doesn't matter where.

      About the only exception is if it's blatantly obvious that you're being recorded, which has been taken to mean "news team" - in other words, an absolutely gigantic, impossible-to-miss camera, or a large microphone, like TV reporters carry with the station logo on it.

      Otherwise, it's "wire tapping."

      Ridiculous? You bet. Going to change? Hah!

      Incidentally, as far as I know, you're allowed to take video of people in public places. Just not the audio.

      • Can the government record you without permission?
      • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:54PM (#37101654)

        Ridiculous? You bet. Going to change? Hah!

        Well, not with that attitude. Unjust laws usually look like they'll never change up until they do. Acting like we're stuck with them forever is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        • Unjust laws usually look like they'll never change up until they do.

          Problem is, this is one of those laws that people think are unjust when used against them, but think makes perfect sense when used in their favor. "If someone wants to record me, they hella better get my permissions first, doesn't matter where or what the circumstances are!" But at the same time, "If I want to record someone else in a public place, then I should be able to record them!" The problem per se isn't that the law is unjust, t

    • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:46PM (#37101576)

      This idiot cop's name is Jeffrey Asher, and his Facebook page is here: [] - NO KIDDING!

      Such an appropriate "screen name"...

    • by sustik ( 90111 )

      "...on a public street, where police officers should have no expectation of privacy."

      I am sure you did not mean it that way, but it sounds as if the beating happens at the precinct in
      an interrogation room then the officer has expectation of privacy. Quite the opposite.
      All police actions should be filmed to protect the rights of ALL parties involved.

  • Seems like no matter how many injustices we hear like this, we never to anything to put a stop to it. He'll be back on the job and busting heads again in no time. And we'll let him.

    • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:24PM (#37101386)

      Mostly because of the following appeal to emotion type argument:

      "The police face dangerous people every day, and need to be able to respond to percieved threats accordingly. Enforcing more strict controls over police escallation of violence places our public servants (The people who protect us from violent offenders) at risk. You dont want to be responsible for letting criminals run loose because you prevented the police from reacting, do you?"

      This argument bears a superficial resemblence to the "Support our TRUUPES!" argument:

      "Our men and women in uniform fight to protect our freedoms from dangerous terrorists overseas. If you dont support our men and women in the armed forces, you are selling out our country, and are complicit in the terrorist's cause."

      Both provide "Enforcement" agencies with Carte Blanc to do pretty much watever they feel like, because if you disagree with the tactics or reasons for their activities, "You are a criminal/terrorist sympathizer."

      No self-respecting politician with any hope of being re-elected will act on either agency in any fashion besides a stern wrist slapping, because of the danger of violating the de-facto taboo that these appeals to emotion invoke, regardless of how desperately these entities actually need such corrective action. (This is why the GITMO prisoner torture was downplayed, and why "Wiretapping" charges keep getting lodged against citizens reporting and recording instances of police wrongdoing.)

      Additionally, the egregious activities of these agencies work hand-in-hand with power hungry parent entities (City, State, and Federal governments), because slowly escellating violence against both foriegn and domestic entities desensitizes the public, and allows for greater abuses of power at higher levels without causing moral panic or alarm.

      Without some form of mass moral outrage against these practices, and I mean *RIGHT NOW*, there will be no going back and this country will continue to fast-track toward a police-state.

      • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

        Obama was crucified for merely making the offhand statement that the police acted stupidly in arresting a man in his own home on suspicion of being a burglar. What do you think would happen to anyone who actually tried to push for real change? There's no hope for turning back at this point.

        • Obama was guilty of commenting on police affairs while black. I doubt very much that there would have been the sort of uproar had it not been for the fact that both the President and the man being arrested are black.

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:41PM (#37101526)
        What they don't realize is that they reap what they sow. The police live under the assumptions that there are two kinds of people: Cops and criminals. The only gray area is for family of cops and other government employees. But if the cop doesn't know you, then you are a criminal, and they will treat you the same as someone they just saw beat someone to death. Because they treat everyone with a complete lack of respect, they earn the same treatment from everyone else, and that leads to their job being more dangerous. If they were nice to everyone at all times, then they'd earn some respect and their job would be easier and safer. But that's hard. It's mentally easier to separate everything to an "us vs them" battle. And so, that's what we get. That doesn't serve us as well as a "protect and serve" force, but no one cares enough to try to change it.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:57PM (#37101674)

        Interrogation room
        Cop: *pushes a blank piece of paper to the man sitting in the chair
        Innocent Person: "What's this? You want me to write a confession?"
        Cop: "No, those are your rights."

      • "The police face dangerous people every day, and need to be able to respond to percieved threats accordingly. Enforcing more strict controls over police escallation of violence places our public servants (The people who protect us from violent offenders) at risk. You dont want to be responsible for letting criminals run loose because you prevented the police from reacting, do you?"

        "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear from surveillance." If the police aren't doing anything wrong, then they should have no objection to their actions being recorded. It's the same argument that law enforcement agencies keep trying to shove down our throats, and objecting when it gets turned around so that they're the ones with the cameras pointed at them just reveals the depth of their hypocrisy.

    • One cop involved, sounds like the one who was hitting him with a flashlight, was fired. [] The other two had disciplinary action taken against them, suspension without pay. They would be extraordinarily dumb, even for cops [], to try it again.

      Needless to say, that doesn't make up for it, it's still an injustice, and shouldn't have happened in the first place, they need to stop hiring the scum of the earth to uphold the law, but don't let rampant cynicism get the best of you.
  • I am still fuzzy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:10PM (#37101240)

    on how wiretapping is the same as recording video.

    • Yeah, seriously. Doesn't wiretapping usually involve, you know, a wire being tapped? Recording video is wiretapping in the same way that copyright infringement falls under the mandate of the DHS.

      But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

      Just sayin'.

    • Unfortunately, it's because laws often define the words used in them. Literally define them. Usually those definitions are pretty much what you expect, but that's how you get a law called the so-and-so wiretapping act where the definition of wiretapping could include videotaping someone without consent.

      Don't construe this response to be support of this obvious abuse of power. It's clearly exactly that.

    • I believe the rule is that if you're recording audio anywhere without permission it's "wiretapping". Recording just video doesn't quite have the same problem, or at least it didn't.

      After all, bugging someone's house isn't much different from wiretapping.
  • by Morphine007 ( 207082 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:10PM (#37101246)

    He does not appear to deny anything that happened in the video, but he apparently thinks it shouldn't have been filmed.

    Too bad... fuck 'em.

    • but, If the tables were turned and some one video taped a gang beating up a cop.......
      the videographer in question would be considered heroic, lauded by the police and generally there would be no mention of wiretapping and many statements made about how this state (county,country, etc.) needs more civic minded people like this......

      just saying

      • I don't know about that. I think there would be comments about "Coward! Why did you not use your camera to beat the evildoers off of the blue knight!?!"
  • This guy tells me we need a Darwin Award category.

    "Idiots Who Lose Their Job Because of Supreme Incompetence".

    • by Roogna ( 9643 )

      If only he'd lost his job, but apparently according to the summary anyway, he only lost it for 45 days...
      Which I suppose would provide the Darwin Award category to the citizens who are supposed to be protected by Police, not beat by them, of "There is no justice."

      • RTFA. The cop who registered the complaint wasn't the one who did the beating. That guy was fired. He did, however, stand by and watch it happen. He should've lost his job for it, but he wasn't the guy busting heads.
    • Well, the actual darwin awards do: if you've killed yourself through stupidity, you also lose your job...
  • What has happened to law enforcement in this country that too many of them have started acting like there's no such thing as accountability?

    Charging someone for videotaping police never stands up in court, so it's just another example that we're not dealing with the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    Pick me for that jury, or just let one person like me on there and this case is over.

    • Sadly, hung juries [] are no longer permitted these days. Directed verdicts [] seem to be the order of the day, and if the judge finds out you're the lone holdout, you'll just be removed and replaced with someone more malleable. If you try to do anything about it, like talking to the media, you'll find yourself charged with contempt of court. []

      Our judiciary is far too corrupt for mere juries to fix...

    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

      We just need states to either take the initiative and outright declare public video taping of public employees legal, or a case to make it to the SCOTUS so that we can finally put an end to these stories, which are getting more and more frequent (for obvious reasons).

      Even when this gets thrown out, people will still be intimidated by the hassle involved, and that's the ultimate reason they do this sort of thing... it doesn't matter if it gets thrown out, it causes enough problems to be a deterrent.

    • What has happened to law enforcement in this country that too many of them have started acting like there's no such thing as accountability?

      They haven't started acting like it, they've always thought there wasn't any. And until recently, there wasn't much. Ubiquitous video cameras and the internet have changed things, and they don't like it any more than the RIAA.

  • fair is fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:20PM (#37101342)

    The officer received a 45-day suspension for the beating

    What do you think would happen to me if I beat a police officer enough to cause "many broken bones in his face and permanent partial blindness"?

    • It Depends. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jeko ( 179919 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @09:00PM (#37101694)

      How much money do you have? If it's billions, then your security detail defended you against a lone rogue officer who violated department policy, and the City offers it's apologies and takes this matter very, very seriously.

      If all you did was study hard, work hard and then follow the rules after you served your Country honorably, then criminal lowlifes like you will not be tolerated or coddled...


  • I don't know the etiquette for reposting ideas [], but we need a "National Record the Police in Public Day". If nothing else, this would force the issue to be dealt with. Anyone interested should contact this guy. []
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:23PM (#37101378) Journal
    If you film somebody being beaten, then wait until after the trial and the cop(s) has/have testified. THEN release it ANONYMOUSLY to the press. Quit telling police who to go after. Here in America we have the corrupt neo-cons/tea*, the corrupt DAs and the corrupt police that support these kinds of actions. Most importantly, that gets not just the beating but the lying under oath that the perp AND the supporting police will do.

    It is time to take back our nation from these bastards. Out them, but do not give them a target. BTW, assume that the corrupt DA and police union disallow those films. That is ok. The victim can still sue the cop CIVILLY and get the bastards pensions. Do a few of those and watch how quickly cops change their attitude.
    • Why only release it after the trial? By all means stay anonymous, but for the sake of the victim, at least supply a copy to their attorney.

      • Re:Why wait? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @09:00PM (#37101696) Journal
        NO. Big mistake.
        Let the courts convict the man, but follow the case CLOSELY.
        It is not just that a cop commits a crime. It is all the ones around that person who will lie FOR THEM that is just as much, if not worse. I have little doubt that when given a chance, many cops will lie to protect their friend. WIth this approach, you take down all of these cops. The victim will be righted, and more importantly, will be to sue these cops, and the municipality that did this for lying.

        Look, our problem today is that we are turning into a corrupt nation. We did not use to be. We really were one of the good guys. But for the last 30 years, we have become a corrupt nation. Our cops are no better than Nixon, reagan, Clinton, and W, who are all criminal (reagan multiple times over). Any cop that lies on the stand is just as bad as the one that is thumping somebody. So, if you allow 4 cops top lie to support their buddy, then all 5 will be gone. At the least, that can be used in future trials against them to show that they are corrupted cops. Pretty much destroys those ppl.
        • Re:Why wait? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @09:20PM (#37101838)

          So you want to cause an innocent man to be convicted to further your own personal agenda against cops ...

          How exactly is that different than what they do? Because you think you're on 'the good side' ... as you let someone else suffer ... not you, someone else.


        • Submitting the evidence to the prosecutor anonymously before the trial takes place is the best solution. Withholding evidence is not only a felony, but really stupid if you want to see these types put away. The prosecutor will figure out how to use it most effectively to take him down, whether that means catching him in a lie or some other method.
    • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @09:07PM (#37101760) Journal

      "Here in America we have the corrupt neo-cons/tea*, the corrupt DAs and the corrupt police that support these kinds of actions"

      I can't tell you distressing and frankly offensive I found this sentence to be.

      As politically conservative as they come, and a proud Taxed Enough Already activist, I deeply believe in the bedrock value of the "Rule of Law" and insist that the U.S Constitution be recognized and upheld as the highest law of the land at all levels of government.

      Police Officers who cannot embrace or be trusted with the truth (like a video of their own actions) should find themselves permanently unemployable in any law enforcement capacity as they clearly have forgotten that in their roles as Police Officers, they are servants and protectors of the People, not overlords.

      • I confess to not knowing what the Tea party stance is on civil liberties and law enforcement. As another poster pointed out, the fact that tea partiers come from the political right means there are a lot of brands of social conservatives and neocons mixed in there. Social conservatives pay lip service to rule of law and respect for authority but want to use torture if it works. I'm not saying you believe that, but "rule of law" turns out to be nebulous in modern politics.

        If you can separate the general a

    • by Marrow ( 195242 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @10:28PM (#37102370)

      How is one to know whether your video recorder or phone has put sub-protocol information on the recording that identifies you. Ok, even if its a camera, it can put the serial number of the camera there. And if you bought it with a CC, then they can relate the two. Or , if you post other video of your camping trip or whatever, they could relate two recordings.
      If recording the audio is a crime, then one should strip the audio before giving the recording to anyone. This would block the seizure of the tape as evidence that the recording itself was a crime.

  • "One of four police officers disciplined for the incident on Nov. 27, 2009, Michael Sedergren, has filed an application for a criminal complaint against videographer Tyrisha Greene. Sedergren, who was suspended for 45 days, claims it was illegal for Greene to videotape him without his consent."

    I've seen the "Cops" TV program. Do the police get the suspects consent to film them?
    • Yes, every time. But the cops, while doing their jobs, shouldn't have any expectation of privacy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Cops should have full time recording of audio and video of them, and if it *goes missing* then consider it a felony with a minimum 20 year sentence, with no chance of parole, no appeals, no questions asked - the officer who tried to turn off the recorder, the chief who let something happen, the IT geek who did the erasure - all 3 of em - same penalty.

        Then we'll see how many accidental erasures *cough bullshit cough* happen.

  • Think about that next time you demand more "privacy" laws.

    • It's more an issue of lazy lawmakers than intent. When you don't clearly evaluate the repercussions of a new law, you end up with crap like 18 year-olds with 10 year prison sentences for having sex with 15 year-olds.

      But, that's a sign of the times and not that "politicians are stupid." Bad guys frequently have their rights and due process violated because people don't think bad guys deserve the same justice as the good guys.

  • I've heard so many stories like this lately. Isn't it about time that we pass a law that makes it unambiguously legal to record police officers in the course of their duty no matter what. It sounds like at least a step toward answering the age-old question Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? [].
  • by ScooterComputer ( 10306 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:32PM (#37101454)

    I think it is time for another Amendment to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights discusses a great amount about the OUTPUT of citizens, but little regarding the INPUT...mostly because at the time of the founding it was impossible to -record- such things. The only means was to write about experiences, what someone heard, saw, smelled, tasted, or felt. However that equation has been altered greatly in the past 150 years, starting with photography. Yet the citizenry's right to secure backup of the human sensory system (or electronic record that corresponds to the human sensory system) has not been recognized accordingly.
    Photographers are still fighting photo bans, and dealing with unconstitutional charges that result. And that is for the oldest form of "record keeping"! There are still outright bans on audio in many states, though video--due to its similarity to still photography--is in a somewhat legal limbo.

    This is going to require an Amendment to fundamentally enumerate and incorporate the human right to record the environment. That should not extend to electrical interception (true wiretapping) or electronically-assisted interception (unidirectional microphones and telephoto lenses), but simply to the environment as presented to the human in place, at human levels of perception. Although "photos can lie", human beings should not be hamstrung to the subjective judgement of character (he said, she said) when significantly more accurate measurements are available. If the citizen has a 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination, they should certainly have a right to provide individualized proof of innocence!

  • ...toss all cases like this to the curb with a thorough lecture of all parties who have the audacity to bring charges for this! This should have been denounced long ago as totally without merit and a gross abuse of the system.
    • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

      Tossing out the case and giving a lecture will never make them stop. They'll just keep trying, and occasionally get lucky with an authoritarian judge. The right way to handle this is disbarment for any prosecutor who files such clearly retaliatory charges. Just watch how fast this bullshit stops after a few DAs find themselves on the streets.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      The cop asking for the prosecution should be tossed in jail for 30 days for contempt of court. The DA should be fired and disbarred. The judge that didn't do either of those when the case was filed should be fired and disbarred.
  • As the legal definition of a wiretap seems to hinge on covertly recording communications, I wonder how a silent video would fare. As the law seems to permit taking pictures in public places, and taking video without sound is essentially just taking a bunch of pictures very rapidly, it would be reasonable to assume that such a device doesn't fall under the definition of a wiretap.

    This would, of course, side step the real issue, but it could be an interesting case nonetheless for bringing about a ruling o
  • the key word there is not "cop", it's "asshole". the beating in the video is a clear case of police brutality. this suit is just a case of a stupid jerk being a stupid jerk. And in all likelihood it will not turn out well for him.

  • The law states that its intention is to aid in reducing organized crime. In this case, the actions of the police fit the law's definition of organized crime very well!
  • Stupid Summary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by itchythebear ( 2198688 ) on Monday August 15, 2011 @10:10PM (#37102214)

    Damn you horribly biased, agenda pushing slashdot summary writers!

    The officer received a 45-day suspension for the beating..

    No no no no nooooo. The officer who did the beating was fired and is facing criminal charges. It is one of the officers who stood by and watched that got the 45 day suspension.

    Just for the record, I think this wiretapping charge is bullshit and I think all the cops involved should be punished appropriately. But the summary makes it seem like a cop only got a 45 day suspension for assault with a deadly weapon, which is incorrect and borderline flame bait.

    • Say, if a normal person stands around with their friend as they beat on someone, isn't that an accessory charge?

  • Bad c(r)op (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bursch-X ( 458146 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @12:15AM (#37103098)
    There are good cops! It's really policemen like this who give the other 5% a bad name.
  • New Rights (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spaceman375 ( 780812 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @08:21AM (#37105658)
    The right to bear arms was put into the constitution specifically to protect the people from a corrupt government, militia, or police force. Now we need a new right, specifically the right to bear cameras (and full protections on what we record, including the right to share it.) Sure, there's some details to work out; no recording classified stuff, etc., but anywhere a police action occurs, the public should have the right to record it, and to use that recording as they see fit.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10