Maryland Judge Says It's OK To Record Traffic Stops

A Maryland motorcycle rider who recorded his confrontation with a traffic cop had the right to do so, a county judge ruled.

The Baltimore Sun reports the judge decided police aren’t protected from public observation:

“Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public,” the judge wrote. “When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation.”

Here’s a YouTube video of the incident, in which the undercover officer pulled a gun on the biker:

Motorcyclist wins taping case against state police [Baltimore Sun]
(Thanks, Kurt!)

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  1. joshua70448 says:

    Thank goodness somebody had some common sense. I still can’t believe they were going to charge this guy with wiretapping charges, since this definitely wasn’t a private conversation.

    • DariusC says:

      Kind of wondering why the heck he had a camera on his helmet?! Anyone else wonder how the heck this got caught on tape? Who does this?!

      • axhandler1 says:

        This is exactly why I purchased one of those video/voice recorders that looks like a key fob. Thank goodness I live in a one-party state.

        • Doncosmic says:

          If you’re in pubic, you have the right to videotape anyone, with or without their permission.

          • Galius Persnickety says:

            Not in Illinois…

          • dragonfire81 says:

            Uh I’m pretty sure I’d need her permission if I was in pubic at the time. :P

            • Crass says:

              So you give permission to every shop owner who puts security cameras in public to watch you? What happens if you don’t want them to record you in public?

              • ktjamm says:

                Perhaps you missed the definition of “public”. IE Not Private.

                You can’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy driving down the road, or walking on a sidewalk.

                • jiubreyn says:

                  Looks like you missed it to. Go back and reread the first comment, he made a typo and put PUBIC (no L) therefore the commenter above made a funny.

                  Get it? :D

              • 451.6 says:

                Way to miss the joke…

              • nms says:

                If someone can easily see you with their eyes as you are doing something, without intruding, I don’t see how you can be offended that a camera can see the same thing too.
                If you want to be unseen you ought to go behind a closed door in your own home

                It stuns me that you think you have a a reasonable expectation of privacy in a PUBLIC place.

          • tape says:

            tell that to Massachusetts.

            no, seriously, tell them, because the courts here don’t understand this.

      • phobos512 says:

        @DariusC, LOTS of motorsports enthusiasts have cameras on their helmets / bikes / cars / etc. It’s very common to record your exploits to share with your friends. Several companies make camera systems to do so. VHoldR’s Contour / ContourHD and GoPro’s HERO Cam series are two of the more popular systems.

        http://www.vholdr.com/

        http://www.goprocamera.com/

        • DariusC says:

          Ah! Thought he was a common biker… bikers on military installations are REQUIRED to have all that gear… not common to see someone riding without it around here.

        • Geekybiker says:

          Not just your exploits. Many folks have them to record the exploits of other motorists. Very often when a motorcycle is involved in a traffic accident it is because another motorist did something very stupid and dangerous. Recording your ride makes sure the right people get prosecuted, that you don’t have to pay your deductible for their mistakes, that you next of kin can track down the hit and run murderous cagers. I see some bicyclist doing the same thing. Mainly because when a motorcyclist or biker gets hurts the police shrug and act like the deserved it simply for choosing not to drive a car.

    • Difdi says:

      My question is, which wires did he tap?

    • Griking says:

      Hopefully there are limitations to this decision. If a driver like in this example has a camera in his helmet then that’s fine. But you just know that someone will try to take advantage of this and pull a cell phone out of their car and claim that it’s within their right to hold a camera and record their confrontation with an officer. If things like that are allowed it would only be a matter of time before someone reaching for a camera gets shot because a cop thought it was a gun.

      • Conformist138 says:

        By your argument, no one should be allowed to do anything ever again- what if the cops shoot you? About as good as “Think of the children!”

        We have to reach for our ID and registration, this is no different “Officer, I am reaching for my cell phone. Don’t shoot!”

        No need to charge motorists with wiretapping laws for attempting to use a recording device in public.

  2. theSuperman says:

    Common sense prevails! Now here comes the lawsuit.

  3. Hoss says:

    Does that arse still have a job?

    • falnfenix says:

      probably.

    • Crass says:

      Even if he did get in “trouble” the worst he would get is paid-vacation. Seriously. It isnt a crime to falsely charge someone with a crime, even when you know those charges are false. Mind blowing isn’t it.

    • Shadowfax says:

      He shouldn’t. Unmarked car. No police lights. Plainclothes. Cuts off the motorcycle and jumps out pulling a gun. If I were the biker, I would not immediately think, “Oh, cop.” I’d think “Shit, he’s gonna shoot me and steal the bike.”

      The cop is lucky the biker didn’t have a gun. Really good way to get yourself shot. Moron.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Good!! When law enforcement are no longer accountable for their actions, we will be living in a police state.

  5. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    Fantastic! I couldn’t believe that anyone would even argue that cops had a right to not be videoed when they were in public.

  6. Aaron Anderson says:

    Plain clothes, unmarked car, he’s lucky he didn’t get shot in the face. How the hell is the biker supposed to know he wasn’t getting jacked?

    • Jonbo298 says:

      That threw me off too. Not the most ideal way to get out of an undercover car with a gun…

      • Whtthfgg says:

        I assume none of you saw the trooper behind him??

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          1) Yeah, you DON’T see him until the biker turns his head. What if the biker hadn’t seen him either?

          2) The presence of a cop does not imply that everyone in the area with a gun is also a cop.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            If movies have taught me anything, is that usually in the presence of marked police with guns, there is in fact several gang members / bank robbers / terrorists in the area with larger guns.

        • Gundy says:

          the guy on the bike may not have seen the officer behind him right away as he was busy looking at an unidentified guy with a gun in front of him. at the tail end of the video the officer is getting out of the car behind them so it looks like he was a few seconds behind the biker.

        • mac-phisto says:

          if you watch the extended version w/o sound (3rd video suggestion), you can see him look behind shortly after getting off the exit (it’s at about 3:00 that he turns his head). i would assume that’s b/c he heard the sirens. what you don’t see are lights, presumably b/c this jackoff in the unmarked was in front of the trooper.

          the fact that the trooper was there makes the actions by the unmarked officer even more ridiculous. if you have a marked officer initiating a traffic stop, what possible reason would you have for getting out of your car with your gun drawn when you’re not identified as an officer?

          the actions by this officer are both unwarranted & unsafe. let the trooper do his job, sit there as backup & don’t get out of the car unless the situation gets out of hand. that’s the proper SOP.

          • jesirose says:

            Jesus, that video made me nervous just watching it. I hope the camera is not at the same angle as his head, because he’s looking down way too much. Not to mention speeding and changing lanes like a moron.

            Didn’t deserve a gun pulled on him though.

    • phobos512 says:

      EXACTLY! Where was the identification? “State police!” Yeah, my ass, BADGE PLEASE.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Yeah, my thought too. Yelling “state police” doesn’t make it so, and his whole approach toward the vehicle did NOT look like a cop walk. This fuck doesn’t deserve to flip burgers.

    • Gundy says:

      i know, the guy hops out of a car with his gun drawn. no badge, no identification other than him saying “state police”. i would have asked for his i.d. although there was a police car stopped behind him (the guy on the motorcycle). but still thats iffy as hell.

    • c_c says:

      He’s lucky the biker wasn’t a Hells Angel… or that’s probably what would’ve happened.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      That one of the things that I was thinking also when this article first posted. That cop was stupid to approach a car without authorization, a badge, or proper clothing that would identify himself in public. I would have taken the cops approach and attitude as life threatening and this guy is lucky he’s still alive.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      One more thing. I would bet that this cop was not an MP in the MIL. My buddy and I served in Baghdad together and we know that MPs turned civilian cops tend to have better judgment and common sense in these situations. Civilian cops who never had MIL experience tend to be wanna-be hero’s like they’re on TV.

    • DanRydell says:

      The state trooper who was behind him

      • c!tizen says:

        I’ve had guns pulled on me before, your eyes are on that weapon, not on your mirrors. I’m willing to bet he didn’t know that patrol car was behind him until he got off the bike and physically turned around.

        That cop is a fucking moron. He’s lucky he’s alive, that stupid crap could have gotten him and the motorcycle driver killed. He should be fired, now.

    • bitslammer says:

      Perhaps he could have looked in his rear view mirror and also seen the marked cruiser in the video? I’m all for the cameras in public places but I think the off duty cop was acting reasonably. This guy was probably riding like he just robbed a bank. I see it done often here. I was passed last month by a guy doing a 90mph wheelie on the highway. I wanted to open ,y door so damn bad and I’m a motorcycl rider myself. There are too many immature riders these days who act like they’re Evel Knievel on the road. More power to the cops for tkaing them off the road.

      • Crass says:

        Alright, fair enough. So lets for the sake of argument say the cop was completely justified in pull his weapon the cyclist. Does this also justify the retaliation that happened 2 weeks later when the cyclist posted the video online. He had his apartment search, computers seized, and was facing up to 14 years in prison.

      • Shadowfax says:

        I’ve seen the whole video. You’re right. The biker was being a jackass. Speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, etc. He needed to get pulled over and arrested.

        That said, first, it’s basic officer safety not to jump out of a civilian car wearing civilian clothes and pull a gun on someone who has no way of knowing that you’re a cop. Had the biker shot the idiot cop in the face, it would have been justifiable self defense, because the biker had every reason to believe that a civilian was about to shoot him.

        And second, arrest the biker for being a jackass in traffic. Don’t tack on bullshit wiretapping charges because you’re upset that your idiotic policework showed up on youtube.

      • spamtasticus says:

        What he did deserved traffic tickets. He was a complete fool. That said the cop is lucky he did not get shot. Back in the 90s there was a rash of carjackings that ended in dead German tourists down here in Miami. My friend and I where driving my Jeep and exiting a highway when a white BMW in front of us slowed for no apparent reason. When I slowed a car bumped us from behind. The fact that 3 guys hopped out of the car in front of us even though it was not really involved tipped me off that something was up. I grabbed my pistol from the center console and put it on my lap and had to crash the car in front of me to get it out of the way so we could get out of the off ramp. Had one of the guys that got out of that car acted like this cop I would have likely shot him. This officer needs to check his ego when he is wearing a weapon.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Again, the fact that there is a cop in the area does not prove that every other armed person in the vicinity is also a cop.

  7. Maximus Pectoralis says:

    If a guy ran out of his car toward me with a gun like that, and I was in my car, he would become roadkill very quickly…

    This is exactly why we need to be able to record police. There have been a rash of these “wiretapping” charges in areas with corrupt police but fortunately the courts realize cops can’t just make up laws on the spot, as much as they’d like to.

    • chefguru says:

      If you watch the last second of the video, there IS a police car behind him. Maybe the undercover (?) cop saw the biker doing something illegal, followed him, called it in, and waited until an actual marked car pulled him over?

  8. Thassodar says:

    I think it’s kind of disappointing that the main article this links to is just as short as this one. I wanted more information and didn’t get it. Oh well.

  9. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    The Baltimore Sun reports the judge decided police aren’t protected from public observation

    I don’t understand why they think that they are but then everyone seems to think that they are, not just cops.. It’s like that article about the photographer getting yelled at for taking pictures on the street. Everyone will agree with this ruling because it’s the cops but in that other post most people insisted that you have a right to not be recorded in public. YOU DON’T.

    • Tim says:

      Nine eleven.

      • leprechaunshawn says:

        If “nine eleven” is the excuse why ordinary citizens can’t record video or take photos in public, the terrorists have won.

        I cannot believe it took an order from a judge to declare what I would consider to be common sense. A public official should have no expectation of privacy when conducting the duties of his/her job while in public.

      • Pax says:

        thirteen, fifteen, and seventeen.

        This is fun.

        But, um … why are we doing it, again?

      • Difdi says:

        The terrorists attacked on 9/11 because they hate our freedoms (literally, freedom of religion puts us in a permanent state of war). So we’ll strip away our freedoms in the name of fighting the terrorists? You defeat someone by denying them their objectives, not by handing them every single one without a fight.

  10. RickinStHelen says:

    I sort of hope it gets appealed up so we can get a higher ruling than a county judge. I don’t want it to become like England, where you can get into trouble for photographing your own kids at a playground. It seems that we have lost our sense of proportion and reason when it comes to public space, privacy, and safety.

  11. thor79 says:

    Can’t believe this was actually being questioned. Not only was the dude in public, but he is a PUBLIC servant. Of course his actions should be recordable, that’s one of the only ways we can keep them honest.

  12. oldwiz65 says:

    Why in the world would a cop pull a gun in a situation like this? This makes no sense at all. Did the unmarked car have blue lights and siren? To me it looks like the motorcyclist is going to be killed or robbed. I live in Mass where they say it’s illegal to tape the police, but it is so unreasonable. Where would Rodney King be if someone had not taped it? The police are supposed to be there to protect us and they are supposed to be accountable for their actions. Of course this does not apply to the TSA, CIA, or the other spooks – they are accountable to no one and operate on the premise that everyone is a terrorist and should be treated as such.

  13. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    I’d pull a gun on a furry motorcycle rider too.

  14. Jeff says: "WTF could you have been thinking?" says:

    Blame the OP here. I’m thinking he probably had just tried to outrun the cops and the unmarked car joined the chase. Even without markings or lights on the unmarked car, he was obviously being followed by marked units with lights and sirens. He had no reason to fear for his life. He is very lucky he didn’t get thrown on the ground and beat severely. Isn’t that what the cops usually do to people that try to outrun them? Or maybe he did.

    • ilovemom says:

      The full video shows him slow down and stop for the police when he certainly had the chance to pull around the traffic and get away (easily). The gun was pulled to prevent this, though an 80mph speeding violation is certainly not justification for use of deadly force (I don’t think they observed his 127 mph antics, even if they did that is still not grounds for use of deadly force).

      • Negative says:

        As someone who works in law enforcement here’s my take on what possibly happened. The guy on the motorcycle might not have realized that he’d been spotted by a trooper who was attempting to pull him over, and at the speed he was traveling it might have been difficult or unsafe for the trooper to try to keep up. The trooper probably called in a high speed pursuit thinking the guy on the motorcycle had seen him and was running. The off-duty officer probably heard the high speed pursuit called in and joined in. High speed pursuits usually end in a felony arrest type situation which would justify the officer drawing his weapon.

        With that said, the charges against the guy for using a video camera are stupid.

    • Dre' says:

      Try reading, it’s informative & stuff.

    • RobSmalls says:

      You might want to read the backstory on this. He wasn’t trying to outrun any cops, there was no chase. He was recklessly showboating on the highway and the unmarked car cut him off on the exit ramp, which was when the trooper emerged, drew his gun and ordered him off the bike. The biker then posted the video of the encounter on YouTube and was arrested for wiretapping charges.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Yes, let’s blame the OP based purely on your theories that have no basis in fact or reality.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      Um, do you know what OP stands for?

    • Difdi says:

      You generally look less like an idiot (to say nothing of looking like an ass) if you RTFA before posting.

  15. Hoss says:

    The troubling part of the story (aside from a weapon being used at a stop) is that the cops raided his family’s home to retrieve the video http://www.theawl.com/2010/08/forceful-conduct-the-anthony-graber-case

  16. BlueTraveler says:

    Here is a link to the court’s opinion for those of you interested in reading it: http://www.aclu-md.org/aPress/Press2010/Court_Opinion_092710.pdf

  17. Gundy says:

    Sooo… when they pull you over and record the encounter its called evidence. But when you get pulled over and record them its called illegal wiretapping and you can be arrested for it. I guess the personal rights of the citizens to protect themselves are outweighed by the rights of the govt to prosecute you. nice.

  18. purebyu says:

    I’m curious as to if the cop was actually on duty at the time of the pull over or was he working off the clock. And is it legal for an off duty officer to enforce the law on off hours?

    • JoeDawson says:

      Off duty cops stop crimes in progress all the time. That is why they are allowed to carry a firearm whilst off the clock.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Yes, it is.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        You are completely wrong here. As others state, most jurisdictions REQUIRE law enforcement officials to act even when off-duty, which is why most have to carry their weapons at all times, when off-duty. I am stating this with certainty because I know officers from different departments who all have to carry even when off-duty.

  19. dr_drift says:

    Yay for stereotypes… Irresponsible and reckless sportbike owner pulled over by power hungry police officer.

    • Costner says:

      After viewing the full version of the video you can clearly see the bike was being chased for a while by the unmarked car. Then when the off-duty officer pulls in front of him and jumps out, the biker was backing up as if he was planning to take off. Maybe his intention wasn’t to take off, but from the perspective of the officer I can clearly see where he would think that… so I don’t really see the issue with him pulling his gun the way he did.

      If anything, him pulling the weapon was a way to protect himself in case the biker decided to accelerate and ram him or otherwise try to get away by running the guy down. In this case, I honestly don’t see any excessive force used because once the officer realized the biker wasn’t going to run, he put down the gun and it was a peaceful encounter from that point forward. He wasn’t pulled off the bike, he wasn’t shoved to the ground… it was pretty straightforward.

      Obviously the real issue here is him being able to videotape the incident which he I believe should be 100% legal (thankfully the court agreed). The fact they had to fight that in court is silly, but that is really a separate issue and has no bearing on the gun drawing incident.

      • dr_drift says:

        I worded that wrong… I didn’t mean that the cop was power hungry for stopping him or pulling his weapon. I mean the power hunger that caused the seizure of the tape and the wiretapping charges.

      • SkuldChan says:

        I dunno if you are a biker, but I am and most of us have a huge blind spot right behind us. Its not uncommon to be riding and not know there is someone following you or that there is a car directly behind you.

        • dr_drift says:

          While he never showed intent to flee the police, he was driving like a maniac on the highway and generally being a tool.

          • HighontheHill says:

            Oh, I don’t know, walking the bike backwards away from the cop was pretty suspicious to me, looked like he might be preparing to flee… Yet, unless he was suspected of a violent crime I cannot see the necessity of the cop pulling his weapon other than to intimidate the biker into giving up…. The cop should be reprimanded for brandishing his weapon unnecessarily, imho…

            That said the biker was driving in an unsafe manner: speeding, passing on the right, erratic lane changes, driving with one hand on the bars, and etc…

            This is a very important decision for society as a whole, the cops need to know that they are being watched and recorded, otherwise they will increasingly step over the line and squash our rights.

      • jvanbrecht says:

        Regardless of the stupidity of the motorcyclist and his antics, had that been me, and in a car, I would not have stopped for the under cover officer, and if I saw a gun, I would probably have run his ass over in self defense.

        I live in MD, there is a reason why police vehicles have lights. Even unmarked cars have lights and sirens to identify themselves as police when performing traffic stops (and its not just crown vics, they have mustangs, chargers, explorers and tahoe’s, every single one of them in both marked and unmarked versions have lights and sirens).

        Cars with no lights or sirens are either being used for non traffic management purposes, or are personal vehicles. This officer was not in a uniform, not in an identifiable police vehicle, and he drew a weapon before identifying himself. Yeah, I would defend myself and the result would have been me getting shot or the officer getting squished.. or both…

      • Pax says:

        There ws absolutely no cause for hte officer to draw his weapon.

        Police are not supposed to draw their weapon because someone might run away. They’re not supposed to draw the weapon unless they expect to shoot you – and we don’t (yet) live in a country where you can be shot for fleeing the police.

        Especially a non-uniformed, non-badge-displaying officer who draws his gun without provocation.

      • Gundy says:

        he was backing up to get behind the schuck he thought had just cut him off. he was backing up before the cop even was out of his car. he had no idea who was driving the car, so why would he be fleeing from them?

    • chefguru says:

      He wasn’t pulled over by a power-hungry officer. If you watch the last second of the video, you can see that he was being pulled over by an actual marked car with assistance from an unmarked car.

      If you watch the extended video, you’ll see that the “Irresponsible and reckless sportbike owner” actually was being Irresponsible and reckless. He was speeding and doing wheelies down a busy highway.

  20. dreamfish says:

    It’s called ‘sousveillance’ – watching them watching us.

  21. ap0 says:

    It took the officer over five seconds to identify himself as police after exiting the vehicle, gun drawn. Police professionalism is a thing of the past it seems.

  22. mac-phisto says:

    what phobos said, but also for protection in the event of an accident. motorcyclists are often found at fault in accidents – even when it clearly is not their fault. having a recording of the incident is an effective way to combat traffic infractions & provide evidence for a lawsuit.

    • Rachacha says:

      Except in this case where the full video show the motocycle speeding, weaving in and out of traffic and popping wheelies aka wreckless driving.

      • mac-phisto says:

        yeah, but this was supposed to be a response to dariusc’s question – “why does he have a camera on his helmet?” i was just giving a reason why some bikers wear cameras.

  23. Macgyver says:

    If you watch the whole video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7PC9cZEWCQ it show that he was speeding.
    And at around the 3 min. mark, you’ll see the guy was looking behind him.
    Now, if the cop had no sirens, then why did he look behind him.
    Then at the end of the video, you’ll see that theirs a police car behind him.

  24. Clyde Barrow says:

    God Bless this judge for his common sense and judgment.

  25. Rachacha says:

    What is not clear is whether the cop in the unmarked vehicle had lights & sires, or whether he was simply out running an errand on his personal time and ran across this wreckless driver and engaged in pursuit waiting for a marked vehicle.

    When the unmarked cop pulled in front of the motorcycle, the motorcycle immediately began backing up (I can’t blame the guy for that), until the cop identified himself as a police officer. The police officer saw the biker backing up and perceived that as a threat that the guy would run (again, I can’t blame the cop) so he pulled his gun, but never aimed it at the biker as his training taught him to do.

    I fault the cop for not identifying himself as a police officer as soon as he exited the vehicle which could have eliminated the need for him to draw his weapon (but perhaps the officer is normally uniformed, and forgot that he was not in a marked vehicle wearing a uniform, but I don’t see anything inappropriate about how he handled it or a cop on a power trip. I have noticed that when I have been stopped for speeding while in the “Griswald family truckster” with my family that the police officer always has one hand on his gun sitting in his holster ready to draw if I make any indication that I might do something wrong.

  26. smartmuffin says:

    Too many states have these laws. This issue is gonna have to go to the Supreme Court eventually…

  27. dbaker0810 says:

    @ MacGyver: “if the cop had no sirens, then why did he look behind him.”

    Ummm…perhaps to avoid becoming roadkill? Glancing behind you before a lane change on a motorcycle is not only defensive driving, but basic common sense.

    • Macgyver says:

      That was only a one lane road he was on at that time, and that’s why motorcycles have mirrors for.

      • jvanbrecht says:

        There is a huge blind spot behind the rider due to the location of the mirrors, they see the left side and right, not directly behind which the riders body blocks in the mirrors. It is very common for a motorcyclist to look directly behind him to make sure he does not get rear ended by stupid drivers, same reason I look in my rear view mirrors constantly when I am slowing down or breaking on an exit, so I can be prepared to take defensive measures in the event someone is exiting too fast, which is all too common in the VA/MD/DC area on the beltway and other highways.

      • dolemite says:

        Yeah, mirrors are pretty much useless on a bike. it’s simpler to just look over your shoulder. The mirror is usually vibrating so much, and shows you such a small area…and it’s always getting bumped so it is facing a bad direction.

  28. satoru says:

    I think most people agree that the guy on the bike was driving dangerously. The cop pulled him over and he was recording it on the very obvious camera on his helmet.

    What people are angry about is the fact that he was charged not with speeding but with a felony wiretapping charge due to a very old statue specific to Maryland. The idea being that the police can confiscate any footage they want and charge you with a pretty serious felony. There are probably some instances where this might be valid, but as the judge indicated, if you’re in the public view with no expectation of privacy, a felony wiretapping charge makes no sense.

  29. APCO25guy says:

    A citizens right to record a public official at work on the public dime is paramount to keeping our government in line. It’s refreshing to see a judge uphold these basic principles. As a side note, this is why unmarked units should NOT initiate traffic stops. It is dangerous for the officers. With the proliferation of impersonators, a citizen being stopped should have ZERO DOUBT about who is conducting the stop. Only way to ensure this is by utilizing clearly marked patrol cars, with uniformed officers. In my state, only properly marked cars can initiate a traffic stop. This ensures officer safety and leaves no doubt in the mind of the one being stopped that is the REAL THING and not some whacker with a badge on his hip he bought off the Internet and a dash light.

  30. dmuth says:

    Glad Consumerist found my picture useful!

    (For folks worried about safety, it was in a private parking lot, we had folks keeping an eye on traffic, and he was going a lot slower than he appears, mostly due to my having a crappy camera at the time)

  31. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Car should have had flashing lights, but the cop wasn’t wrong to pull his gun. The biker was backing up. This could be perceived as a prelude to ramming the cop. A person charges at you on a vehicle you are authorized to use deadly force. Not sure if a skateboard counts…

    That said, citizens should definitely be allowed to tape law enforcement. Too many dangerous cowboys out there not to. Raiding the biker’s house is bullshit.

    Bottom line is this: don’t act like enough of a douche to get pulled over and you won’t have to worry about taping anything.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Bottom line is this: don’t act like enough of a douche to get pulled over and you won’t have to worry about taping anything.

      1) You agree the cop’s actions were out of line and it’s still someone the OP’s fault? How does that work? How does the OP deserve anything beyond ticketing and/or arrest for how he was driving?

      2) Do you really think only guilty people get pulled over by the cops?

  32. dolemite says:

    OMG, this is huge. FINALLY some common sense in a decision!

  33. DanKelley98 says:

    Let’s see here: some guy gets out of a unmarked car (that doesn’t even look like the typical police “unmarked” car); claims to be a state policeman and has a gun out. I didn’t even see the dick show any ID….

  34. Lucky225 says:

    I don’t even know how this went to trial, it’s already been decided in maryland that there must be an expectation of privacy.

    State courts have interpreted the laws to protect communications only when the parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and thus, where a person in a private apartment was speaking so loudly that residents of an adjoining apartment could hear without any sound enhancing device, recording without the speaker’s consent did not violate the wiretapping law. Malpas v. Maryland, 695 A.2d 588 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1997); see also Benford v. American Broadcasting Co., 649 F. Supp. 9 (D. Md. 1986) (salesman’s presentation in stranger’s home not assumed to carry expectation of privacy).

  35. ampm99 says:

    Maryland is only one state where the courts have fixed this. Illinois and other states still use these laws to intimidate the public. This needs to be Federally restricted. Most cases don’t get the ACLU’s attention. Not wanting a criminal record, honest citizens plea bargain down to a fine. A Fine for filming police! In the 60’s there used to be front page articles talking about US Citizens in Russia being arrested because they accidentally filmed security facilities or Police in their tourist photos. Welcome to the Gulag.

  36. dougp26364 says:

    Video tapping aside, if you check out the full lenght video of this guys ride (right next to the short version of him being pulled over), it appears he was speeding and going in/out of traffic. It also shows a marked police car right behind him after the unmarked car and officer pull in front of him. Was he running? Was there a potential threat to the police? I’m sure they didn’t know at first.
    Sure he’ll get a slick lawyer to argue his case and this short clip is a slick PR move. In reality he’s a jerk on the highway risking everyone’s life.

  37. dougp26364 says:

    Watch he FULL vidoe and you’ll see he was speeding and weaving in/out of traffic. There’s also a marked car and uniformed police officer right behind him. Slick PR move from another lawyer making the police look bad when the guy on the bike has no one to blame but himself.

  38. parv says:

    Lovely.

    Now, dismissal of similar taping cases needs to happen in Illinois too.

  39. chefguru says:

    So I just watched the extended video for the above linked video clip…

    It’s VERY obvious that the motorcycle rider is speeding on the highway, and doing wheelies (both illegal).

    At one point, he passes a police officer who obviously follows him. My guess is that he was ALREADY being followed by the police officer who pulled the gun.

    I don’t agree with the cop pulling the gun, but in all fairness, when you stop a sportsbike at a congested traffic area and the biker has MORE than enough room to speed off down the shoulder, then you need to find some way to make him stop.

    I don’t agree that they should have tried to sue him for wiretapping, but he also shouldn’t have been breaking the law.

  40. Gulliver says:

    1. In what world would anybody have an expectation of privacy on the freeway? Imagine the cops beating Rodney King arresting the guy for video taping the incident
    2. Incompetent cop: He risked his life and those of the other motorists to play Clint Eastwood.
    3. He offered no proof he was a cop other than his words. Total amateur.
    4. The DA and police who brought the charges should be sanctioned. This case isn’t even close. If you are in the public square you can be videotaped. If you do not want to be taped, stay in your house. This isn’t like the guy was in a toilet, a locker room, or anywhere close to private.

  41. ianzu says:

    I don’t even understand why the filming of police officers was up for debate. What makes law enforcement so special?