Friday, August 14, 2009

Here is a case of a clueless officer and an idiot prosecutor

getting the department and county in big trouble:
The ACLU today filed a federal lawsuit against Allegheny County and University of Pittsburgh police, alleging that officers arrested a Pittsburgh man for using his cell phone to record an interaction between officers and one of his friends.

Elijah Matheny, of the Hill District, was arrested on April 29 and charged with violating Pennsylvania wiretapping laws. Police said he recorded an incident without officers' permission
As I recall, there was a case a couple of years ago in which the Supreme Court ruled on this; they said flatly that a LE officer in public has no expectation of privacy while performing his duties, and that includes people can take pictures or video. That's settled, so this was a surprise to read:
The county is named in the suit because after the initial arrest, officers called the Allegheny County District Attorney's office to find out if charges should be pursued. The on-duty prosecutor gave the go-ahead.
Then the on-duty prosecutor was either uninformed or a fool.

Considering how many LE vehicles have cameras and voice recorders set up to tape every stop and so forth, kind of amazing how many officers get bent out of shape over someone without a badge taking pics; the only thing I can think of is that they know they don't have control of those recordings, so...


Windy Wilson said...

Here in Los Angeles many years ago, accused drunk drivers were taken to the police station and the booking process was videotaped, which videotape was brought into evidence at trial only if it showed the accused in an inebriated state. If it did not, there was some "technical problem" with the tape and it was not available for discovery or admission at trial. One bright defense attorney realized that it was not likely the PD used a brand new tape for each arrestee, and so was able to make the appropriate motions to compel the PD to admit the tape into evidence even where it did not only help the PD's case.
It's all about the control.

Firehand said...

There's been an awful lot of reports of someone arrested for something demanding "Play the tape, right here, let's watch it!" and the prosecutors saying "There was a problem with the recorder/the tape/it was damaged/it's not readable and can't be presented." All very conveniently for the officers who screwed up or broke the rules.

And I've read of a couple of cases where a lawyer back-doored the process by getting a copy of the tape before the hearing, and when the above was said announced "Really? Then how did I get this certified copy of it?"

GuardDuck said...

Not an uncommon occurance around these parts:

Spy Cams Spy Equipment said...

I agree that it just does not seem right that the police can record every thing but we the people some how are not allowed the same protection via video and audio. What country did I wake up in?