Police in Massachusetts are at it again:
FALL RIVER (CBS) – A Fall River man says he was recording a police officer who was out of control, but instead, he was arrested and his cell phone was seized.
Now the video he recorded is gone. Police say he erased it, even though they were the ones holding the phone.
George Thompson says last January he was just sitting on his front porch, watching a Fall River police officer working a paid detail. Thompson says the officer was on his phone and was swearing very loud.
That’s when Thompson pulled out his phone. Thompson says Officer Tom Barboza then rushed him and arrested him, charging him with unlawful wiretapping.
Note: "sitting on front porch." This guy is on his own property, not in public. He's not interfering with anything or anyone. But apparently, Officer Barboza didn't want to be recorded talking however he was talking to whoever he was talking to.
But in Massachusetts it’s perfectly legal to record video and audio of a public official, including police, as long as they are performing their duties and the recording isn’t hidden.
Even that is Constitutionally questionable. If the person doing the recording is also the suspect being questioned, they may very well have a Due Process Right to record police, even secretly.
“I think we all have our basic rights and I think people should not record others secretly or surreptitiously,” Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine told WPRI.
Oh really? Because police do that to people all the time. That's why police departments are full of special interrogation rooms with hidden cameras.
Thompson claims that two days after his arrest, his phone, which was locked up at the police station, somehow had all of the video erased.
Funny how that happens.
“If a Fall River police officer erased that video, he’s fired,” Chief Racine said. “And I would suspect the district attorney would take out charges.”
George Thompson is not buying it. “They’re investigating themselves and there’s a code of blue and everybody knows that,” Thompson says.
Nothing will happen. There's no evidence who did or didn't erase the video and no one will confess to anything. It's too bad that Mr. Thompson wasn't using my iphone app or the ACLU app or Eye Got You Covered. If so, the video would be stored away safely out of police reach.