Two weeks after having his case dismissed for photographing a Nike commercial set from a public sidewalk, Taylor Hardy learned he was being charged with a felony for audio recording a telephone interview with the media spokeswoman of the Boston Police Department.
Angelene Richardson, Director of Media Relations for the Boston Police Department, claims she was unaware she was being recorded and was surprised to discover the video of their conversation on Youtube.
The video he posted online, which has received less than 100 views, begins in mid-conversation and doesn’t reveal much except that Richardson was clueless about the story that Hardy was calling about; a PINAC story in which a Boston police detective shoved a man recording him while threatening to arrest him for felony battery on a police officer.
Obviously, the 2011 landmark Glik decision, in which the Boston Police Department paid a man $170,000 after arresting him for on wiretapping charges for recording them in public, hasn’t sent the message, even though it makes it very clear that public officials can be recorded in their public capacity.
The Massachusetts wiretapping law, however, makes it illegal for people to secretly record other individuals, even if they don’t have an expectation of privacy, so that is what they are vying for here.
Here is a Facebook conversation between Taylor and I from August about whether he had secretly recorded her. Taylor is a journalism student who produced the video of myself, Joel Chandler and Jeff Gray announcing our partnership and plans to produce several more videos for us in the future.
I never bothered posting the video in the article because it didn’t provide any new information other than the public information officer was clueless to a video that was going viral, which is the customary response from a police flack.
But I see no reason why Hardy would have lied to me about having informed her when I was just looking out for his best interest.
Hardy called the detective in charge of the case today, inquiring as to whether they had recorded the entire conversation between him and Richardson, which would not only prove Hardy’s innocence, but would make the whole issue moot.
But the detective neither confirmed nor denied they had an audio recording of the conversation, which leads me to assume they probably do.
The case is reminiscent of the 2012 case of Cop Block founder Adam “Ademo Freeman” Mueller in which he was convicted and sentenced to three months in jail for calling school and police officials for an interview without informing them that he was recording.
But Mueller’s video, which he posted online in its entirety, clearly showed that Mueller had not informed them he was recording, not that he ever claimed he did.
His defense was that public officials should not have an expectation of privacy while working in the public capacity, which makes sense, except the jury didn’t see it that way.
In this case, the burden of proof lies with the Boston Police Department to prove that Hardy recorded the entire conversation without informing Richardson – who should expect to be recorded anyway as media spokesperson for the department.
But if the only evidence they have is a portion of the conversation that Hardy posted online, they really don’t have much.
The complaint that Hardy received today, posted below, states that he must attend a hearing on November 14. He spoke to a Boston attorney today who informed him that he didn’t have to show up, but that would lead to a trial.
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Hardy, however, is considering flying up there for the hearing to try and get his case dismissed without having to go to trial.
Maybe we can call or email Richardson to persuade her to drop the charges against Hardy considering she should assume all her conversations with reporters are on the record unless otherwise stated. Her listed number is (617) 343-4520.
Maybe we can build up an entire collection of recorded conversations with her. After informing her, of course.