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The Courts

$57,000 Payout For Woman Charged With Wiretapping After Filming Cops 216

mpicpp sends this news from Ars: 'A local New Hampshire police department agreed Thursday to pay a woman who was arrested and charged with wiretapping $57,000 to settle her civil rights lawsuit. The deal comes a week after a federal appeals court ruled that the public has a "First Amendment" right to film cops. The plaintiff in the case, Carla Gericke, was arrested on wiretapping allegations in 2010 for filming her friend being pulled over by the Weare Police Department during a late-night traffic stop. Although Gericke was never brought to trial, she sued, alleging that her arrest constituted retaliatory prosecution in breach of her constitutional rights. The department, without admitting wrongdoing, settled Thursday in a move that the woman's attorney speculated would deter future police "retaliation." ... The First US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) in Gericke's case last week that she was "exercising a clearly established First Amendment right when she attempted to film the traffic stop in the absence of a police order to stop filming or leave the area."
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$57,000 Payout For Woman Charged With Wiretapping After Filming Cops

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  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @09:36AM (#47185903)

    "exercising a clearly established First Amendment right when she attempted to film the traffic stop in the absence of a police order to stop filming or leave the area."

    So a simple "stop filming" or "go away" from the police, and THEN they can arrest you.

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @09:39AM (#47185915) Homepage

    "But could you explain, officer, why you requested the woman to stop filming for apparently no reason, shortly before she alleges that you beat her?"

    And I think the requirements are a bit higher than "asked you to", more along the lines of officially ordering you to, for a given purpose, because you're creating a nuisance or otherwise interfering.

    It's not to say that they can't still stop you filming, but it all becomes a lot more suspicious when you use a police ability normally reserved for acts of horror or where you could tip a suicidal person over the edge to stop you filming what they claim is just a legitimate traffic stop.

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @09:57AM (#47185961)
    However, carving out that bit of scope was deliberate. Even though it was not part of the case they explicitly mentioned that it would not be covered, so implicitly they are indeed saying that if an officer had asked her to stop it would not be a 1st amendment violation.
  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @11:26AM (#47186311) Homepage

    "And I'm not talking about filming victims or suspects in a sensitive situation."

    So, apart from the exclusions you consciously made....

    The fact is that police being recorded by devices themselves - no, there should be no exception, with adequate oversight and HARSH penalties for even a minute on-duty without video record once they are in place.

    But being recorded by the public - sorry, sometimes the police have to step in and say "go away". Whether to calm a riot and disperse you (notice one of these phrases is not "stop filming" but "go away"). Or to stop someone finding out their son's dead by some moron on YouTube uploading his murder.

    But, over and above that, every time you treat the police like the enemy, some people in the police will treat you like the enemy too. I'm all for the police being made to record their actions, if nothing else than to cover their own backside when something like this happens. But to have a dozen people crowded around every arrest of a drunk on a Saturday night trying to film it - that's just inflaming a situation and making their job harder.

    If you feel that YOU need to film a police officer, there's something inherently wrong with policing that filming won't fix. But if you want police to film themselves and be required to produce that in evidence upon a court order and with appropriate moderation to ensure it's necessary - that's an entirely different matter.

    The last thing some cop on the late-shift pinning a nutter who's trying to kill him to the floor outside a pub needs is twenty people all clamouring in his face to get "the shot", uploading it to YouTube with their own commentary that misses off all of the previous chase and tags it as just "police brutality". But that does not mean he shouldn't have a camera on his person that he suffers sanctions for if there's no account for why it stopped recording.

  • by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl@excit e . com> on Saturday June 07, 2014 @02:05PM (#47186899) Journal

    While switching trains, I once saw the police arresting someone at the train stop. They were becoming very aggressive and seemed about to become violent with the man they were arresting, despite the fact that he was not threatening them in any way.

    I took out my cell phone and began filming. Very shortly after, one of the officers pointed at me and said something (not audible, he was too far away), but all of a sudden, their behavior became very professional, and the arrest proceeded without incident.

    If I were in the same situation, I hope someone would do the same. There is no reason police should not be accountable for their behavior while performing their duties. After all, isn't it they who so often say "If there's nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear"? What would be wrong with a video of police officers doing their job properly? If anything, that would protect them if they were later accused of doing something wrong. The only ones with anything to fear from a video recording are those who intend on doing something wrong, and that's the exact time we need them being taped.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.