The Knuckleheads of the Day award
Today's winner is Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed and the Carlisle Pennsylvania Police Department. They get the award for the following.
Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed this morning withdrew a felony wiretapping charge against an 18-year-old Carlisle man who videotaped a police officer during a traffic stop.
Freed's announcement came a week after a story in The Patriot-News caused a storm of protest over the arrest of 18-year-old Brian Kelly.
Freed said his decision won't only affect Kelly, who could have faced a prison term if convicted. It also will serve as a policy for all police departments in the county, he said.
"When police are audio- and video-recording traffic stops with notice to the subjects, similar actions by citizens, even if done in secret, will not result in criminal charges," Freed said. "I intend to communicate this decision to all police agencies within the county so that officers on the street are better prepared to handle a similar situation should it arise again."
Kelly was charged under a Pennsylvania law that bars the audio recording of anyone's conversation without consent. Taking pictures or filming without sound in public settings is not illegal.
Kelly's father, Chris, called the withdrawal of the wiretap charge "fantastic
"That's what should have happened to begin with," he said.
Kelly said he spent 26 hours in prison after his May 24 arrest by a Carlisle officer. He was released when his mother posted her house as security for his $2,500 bail.
Similarly, Freed said there was no valid privacy expectation on the part of the Carlisle police officer in the Kelly case because that officer also was audio- and videotaping the traffic stop.
According to the police and Kelly, a pickup truck in which Kelly was riding was pulled over on West High Street for alleged traffic and equipment violations
Kelly filmed the proceedings, but was arrested after obeying the officer's order to turn off and surrendered his camera. The wiretap charge was filed after the officer consulted a deputy district attorney.
Kelly denied a claim by police that he was trying to hide the camera by cupping it in his hands.
Even in voiding the charge, Freed praised Carlisle police for their "hard work and cooperation" in the investigation of the Kelly case. He said the officer who charged Kelly acted in a "professional manner."
The police who routinely videotape people from speeders to major criminals, throw a tizzy when they themselves are recorded. Throwing in jail, and that's a professional manner according to the District Attorney. No its a sickness seen far too often by both our police and justice system.
Radley Balko writes-
As noted, police are public servants, paid with taxpayer dollars. Not only that, but they’re given extraordinary power and authority we don’t give to other public servants: They’re armed; they can make arrests; they’re allowed to break the very laws they’re paid to enforce; they can use lethal force for reasons other than self-defense; and, of course, the police are permitted to videotape us without our consent.Videotaping the police is a way of protecting our freedom from those who will abuse their authority. Authority that can take away both a person's liberty and in some cases a person's life.
It’s critical that we retain the right to record, videotape or photograph the police while they’re on duty. Not only for symbolic reasons (when agents of the state can confiscate evidence of their own wrongdoing, you’re treading on seriously perilous ground), but as an important check on police excesses. In the age of YouTube, video of police misconduct captured by private citizens can have an enormous impact.
Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed and the Carlisle Pennsylvania Police Department are today's Knuckleheads of the Day.
Hat tip- PA Pundits. Steve Verdon at OTB also comments on the taping of police.
Linked to- Big Dog, Cao, DragonLady, High Desert Wanderer, Jo, Mad Pigeon, Morewhat, Perri Nelson, Pirate's Cove, Right Voices, Right Wing Nation, Third World County, Webloggin,