Judge Sides With Trooper-Taping Motorcyclist And Freedom

Illustration for article titled Judge Sides With Trooper-Taping Motorcyclist And Freedom

A judge in Harford County, Md., on Monday threw out four charges against motorcyclist Anthony Graber for recording his traffic stop without a trooper's permission, ruling public officials should "not expect our activity to be shielded from public scrutiny."

The Maryland National Guard sergeant admitted he was speeding in April down Interstate 95 on his Honda CBR 1000RR. A man in a grey sweater jumped from his car in a traffic stop and pulled a gun on Graber, ordering him off the motorcycle. He then identified himself as a Maryland State Police trooper Joseph Uhler.

Graber was recording the stop with a camera mounted on top of his helmet. After posting the videos on YouTube, police raided the home Graber shared with his parents, taking four computers and eventually arresting him on a charge of violating Maryland's wiretapping law for recording the trooper's voice without his consent. The maximum sentence was 16 years in prison.

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In his ruling, Judge Emory Plitt Jr. noted cases such as the Rodney King beating and the spread of recording technology; he also said public officials doing their duty in public places could not shield themselves from scrutiny, saying the stop:

...took place on a public 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.

The Harford County prosecutor who filed the charges decried the ruling but didn't say whether he'd appeal. Graber told The Baltimore Sun that the ruling was "one of the best days of my life I've ever had."

He also sold his motorcycle for a $5,000 loss, adding "I don't want to ever have a motorcycle again."

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(H/t to everyone) [The Baltimore Sun]

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DISCUSSION

Cops need to be able to keep their cool, and he didn't. Also, the wiretapping law doesn't protect the people and must be changed.

Cops need to know that as public servants, they are not privy to the same privacy in carrying out their duties as they have as off-duty citizens.

It is precisely because they can so easily abuse their police power that citizens must be allowed to record their activities.

A cop's word is all fine and dandy, unless they're lying and hiding behind the unknown, which, unfortunately, happens. Recording them removes that unknown.

A police officer afraid of the truth is no police officer.