A Massachusetts man who recorded video footage of a profane cop was arrested and jailed, even though state law explicitly permits the recording of public officials.
The video evidence was taken into police custody and mysteriously destroyed, according to local news.
George Thompson, a 51-year-old citizen of Fall River, Mass., was sitting on his front porch when he noticed Officer Thomas Barboza sitting in a patrol car and having a heated, profane cell phone conversation. Thompson began recording the officer’s call using his own cell phone. When Barboza noticed, he approached Thompson.
Thompson freely admitted that he was filming Baboza — something that state law explicitly permits. But Barboza arrested him anyway, according to WPRI.
“You fucking welfare bum, I’m arresting you,” said Barboza, according to Thompson.
Thompson was charged with unlawful wiretapping and resisting arrest, and spent one night in jail.
Thompson said the footage from his cell phone would absolutely acquit him. Unfortunately, the footage was wiped from the phone at some unknown point in time, according to the police department.
Police Chief Daniel Racine has launched an investigation to determine who deleted the footage, and said the guilty party will face justice.
“If a Fall River police officer erased that video, he’s fired and I would suspect the district attorney would take out charges,” said Racine in a statement.
Thompson had complained about Barboza before. The officer regularly parks on the street and conducts profane phone conversation within earshot of other people–something Thompson doesn’t like.
“I said to him, ‘Why don’t you cool it with the language there?’” said Thompson. “He says, ‘Why don’t you shut the [expletive] up and mind your own [expletive] business?’”
Photography Is Not A Crime, a blog about civil liberties, commended Thompson for standing up to the police, but chastised him for telling the cops his phone password so that they could delete the footage.
“Huge mistake on Thompson’s part to provide them the password,” wrote PINAC. “Why even have a password if you’re going to hand it to the same thieves that stole it from you?”