George Thompson was arrested after recording a police officer cursing into his cell phone while in public.
Thompson used an iPhone to record Police Officer Thomas Barboza who went on a profane rant into his cell phone on Jan. 6 in Fall River, Mass. (video below).
“Every other word out of his mouth he’s dropping the F-bomb,” Thompson told WPRI 12. “This is going on 10, 15 minutes."
“I said to him, ‘Why don’t you cool it with the language there?’” added Thompson. “He says, ‘Why don’t you shut the [expletive] up and mind your own [expletive] business?’”
“He comes running up the stairs to me, looks right into the camera, and says, ‘You [expletive] welfare bum, I’m arresting you,’” recalled Thompson. “I actually thought it was a joke.”
Officer Barboza charged Thompson with unlawful wiretap and resisting arrest, even though the Massachusetts State Supreme Court and the U.S Supreme Court have ruled it is legal to record police in public, noted ABAJournal.com.
Police claim Thompson broke the law by attempting to hide his iPhone while "secretly recording" officer’s conversation, but have not provided any proof of the alleged crime.
“I’m sticking [the phone out] with my arm fully extended sitting on the porch,” Thompson said. “With my arm fully extended, I’m videotaping him.”
Officer Barboza confiscated Thompson’s iPhone, but police said the video recording (evidence) was mysteriously destroyed while the iPhone was stored in a police evidence room.
“If a Fall River police officer erased that video, he’s fired and I would suspect the district attorney would take out charges,” stated Fall Rive Police Chief Daniel Racine. “If any other individual did that, we will take out felony charges.”
Fall Rive Police claimed they disciplined Officer Barboza for chatting on his phone while working, which violated department policy.
Fall River City Councilor Daniel Rego said during a recent public hearing that he doubted Officer Barboza's phone call was not official police business, noted The Herald News.
"As far as you telling me a police officer is not doing anything because he's on his phone, I totally disagree with you," Rego told Thompson. "He could have been talking with another officer about another situation."
Sources: The Herald News, ABAJournal.com, WPRI 12