Maryland Man Faces 16 Years in Prison for Videotaping Cops

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

We live in a society where everybody seems to have a video camera on the cell phone in their pocket, and everybody seems to be videotaping everybody else. But there's one group that doesn't take too kindly to be videotaped -- police officers. In fact, many prosecutors around the country consider it a crime.

Anthony Graber is one such person charged with taping officers. The Maryland Air National Guard staff sergeant videotaped his March encounter with a state trooper who pulled him over for speeding on a motorcycle. Graber put the video on YouTube. (See video below.)

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The tape shows the officer cutting off Graber in an unmarked vehicle, approaching Graber in plain clothes and yelling at him while brandishing a gun -- all before identifying himself as a trooper.

Prosecutors charged him with violating wiretap laws. He faces up to 16 years in prison if he's convicted.

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Time magazine writes:

The legal argument prosecutors rely on in police video cases is thin. They say the audio aspect of the videos violates wiretap laws because, in some states, both parties to a conversation must consent to having a private conversation recorded. The hole in their argument is the word "private." A police officer arresting or questioning someone on a highway or street is not having a private conversation. He is engaging in a public act.

Even if these cases do not hold up in court, the police can do a lot of damage just by threatening to arrest and prosecute people. "We see a fair amount of intimidation — police saying, 'You can't do that. It's illegal,'" says Christopher Calabrese, a lawyer with the ACLU's Washington office. It discourages people from filming, he says, even when they have the right to film."