A Massachusetts cop who had been sitting in his car, cursing loudly into a cell phone, noticed another man appearing to video record him from his front porch, so he put his phone down and asked the man if he was, indeed, recording.
“That’s right, I’m videoing you,” confirmed George Thompson, who said he had his arm fully extended, holding his iPhone in full view.
Fall River police officer Thomas Barboza then stepped out of his car and stormed up to Thompson, arresting him on state wiretapping charges, calling him a “fucking welfare bum.”
Thompson spent the night in jail as Barboza placed the phone in the evidence room.
And then the footage mysteriously disappeared from the phone.
Well, that’s the story Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine is spinning to the local media, trying to convince them that Thompson went on iCloud and deleted the footage to prevent them from viewing it
According to WPRI:
Thompson – who spent a night in jail after the arrest – said Officer Barboza confiscated his iPhone. A review of the video would likely clear up the issue of concealment, but Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine said the iPhone was erased while it was in an evidence room at the police station. They have issued a warrant to Apple Inc. to find out how the phone was reset.
“If a Fall River police officer erased that video, he’s fired and I would suspect the district attorney would take out charges,” Racine said. “If any other individual did that, we will take out felony charges.”
An iPhone can be wiped out remotely in the event it gets lost or stolen, but Thompson denied that he did so, saying he gave his password to police so officers could retrieve the video to use in his case.
“I wanted the police to see it, I wanted everybody in the city to see it,” Thompson said.
Huge mistake on Thompson’s part to provide them the password. Why even have a password if you’re going to hand it to the same thieves that stole it from you?
But that pretty much makes it clear that police deleted the video because why would the 51-year-old man, who doesn’t seem very tech savvy, go through the trouble of erasing the footage remotely after he voluntarily provided his password?
The truth is, this was an unlawful arrest, despite the claims that Thompson was surreptitiously recording, which is a crime in Massachusetts, even in areas where people don’t have an expectation of privacy.
After all, how else did Barboza notice him recording in the first place?
But Thompson doesn’t seem to have a lot of money, so it’s obvious the cops are going to drag this out in the hopes he strikes a plea deal, which would prevent him from suing them.
However, Thompson also seems to have a lot of fight in him, even posting a sign in front of his house stating “bad cop, no donut,” so it doesn’t look as if he will be accepting any deals soon.
Thompson was also charged with resisting arrest, which we all know is the added contempt-of-cop charge they love to tack on.
But in adding that charge, he admitted that Thompson was openly holding the phone in his right hand, which indicates he was not recording surreptitiously.
“In attempting to placed [sic] the cuff on the right wrist, he resisted pulling his hands apart,” Barboza wrote. “Thompson was at the time holding his video taping phone in his right hand. I then knocked the phone from his hand and pushed him onto the porch floor.”
The landmark Glik decision out of Massachusetts specifically addresses this issue:
The Supreme Judicial Court has held that a recording is “secret” unless the subject has “actual knowledge” of the fact of recording. Commonwealth v. Jackson, 349 N.E.2d 337, 340 (Mass. 1976). It has also made clear that “actual knowledge” can be proven by “objective manifestations of knowledge” to “avoid the problems involved in speculating as to the [subject’s] subjective state of mind.” Id. at 340-41. Moreover, the court has noted that “actual knowledge” does not require that there be any explicit acknowledgment of or reference to the fact of the recording. Id. at 340 (“[T]he person recording the conversation [need not] confirm the [subject’s] apparent awareness by acknowledging the fact of the intercepting device.”).
Barboza’s actions are not surprising considering Racine’s capability to spin this story in support of the officer, whom the chief claims was suspended without pay after admitting to using foul language on the phone – a claim I would love to see verified because I’m not believing a word out of his mouth.
There are several apps out there that allow you to store your footage remotely, preventing cops from deleting it if they confiscate your phone, but I’ve been experimenting with one called Fi-Vo that automatically stores the video in your Dropbox account.