Montgomery Police Arrest a Citizen For Filming Them In Public

We appear to have another citizen arrested for exercising his constitutional rights to videotape police in public.  Jared Parr, the founder of a YouTube channel called Rockville Cop Watch, has posted his encounter with Montgomery County Police officers at a routine traffic stop.  The officers are shown demanding that he turn off his camera and what proceeds is yet another tirade from an officer who seems entirely clueless about the first amendment and basic constitutional rights. For a prior column on this issue, click here.


The video shows an officer saying “I believe you’re video taping. I believe you’re audio recording.” Parr responds that he is indeed recording and the officer immediately states, incorrectly, “Okay, you’re not allowed to do that. That’s against the law to audio record without my permission.” Parr says the officer is mistaken and asks if he is being detained. The officer says that he is indeed being detained: “You’re being detained right now because you’re audio recording and you’re not supposed to.” He was then arrested and charged with obstructing police.

Maryland continues to be a jurisdiction abusing the rights of citizens in filming police in public despite court orders clearly establishing that this is a protected constitutional exercise. This type of abuse occurs because neither police nor prosecutors are punished for violating the rights of citizens in this area. Parr is right in his accounting of his constitutional rights. You have two officers who not only commit a false arrest but do so despite the detailed defense of the citizen. They do not call the matter in or confer. They are intent on arresting the citizen for not yielding to their demands. If this case follows the pattern we have seen in the past, the charges will be dropped after the citizen has been forced to spend time and money in his own defense. However, no disciplinary action is likely given the past pattern in these cases.

30 thoughts on “Montgomery Police Arrest a Citizen For Filming Them In Public

  1. “The tree of liberty…”

    In modern times, that usually means money, time, aggravation and some personal risk.

    Good for Mr. Parr, he is fighting for all of us.

  2. In this case, can the falsely arrested victim file suit against the county and the cop for his arrest and denial of his rights? I would think that such a suit would go a long way to curbing this crap.

  3. can you provide a link or site in which one can reference/print the specific law(s) so that one can present to the offending officer so the officer better understands what laws they are violating with their harassment/arrests

  4. Keep those cameras rolling. If the government can film us at will, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

  5. I did not see if this was the case because when I viewed the video the first part was blank. If he was actually stopped on reasonable suspicion of a violation of the traffic law, he is required to immediatelyidentify himself or produce his driver license. That is the only thing I feel the defendant might not have done properly. If he was not stopped, say he was just sitting in his car for a few minutes he did not have to identify himself.

    It should be recognized that he was inside his car when recording, I don’t see how the state can articulate that he does not have a constitutional right to record inside his car or home. I think that should be a certainty. In public I don’t see where there is an expectation of privacy, that is to prevent recordings. Moreover, I don’t see where the state can articulate a right to privacy since it was only the defendant and the two officers in the video (that I could tell)

    I don’t see how the state can claim any interest in repressing these types of recordings. There was no legitimate national security issue, such as being in a restricted military base or areas.

    I guess it is just me but I don’t see what the problem is from a police point of view. Many agencies have dash cameras on their cars to record so it is rather commonplace. Let them film. Unless there is a tactical situation like a hostage taker that could be watching TV to see the police positions (and in this case any reasonable reporter could be told the facts and he / she would hold off on certain camera angles until the situation is controlled) there is no reason to restrict them.

    This was certainly a false arrest.

  6. JP, The below link might be helpful to you as a thumbnail of how to frame the query. I keep getting a ton of ‘ask a lawyer’ (by email, for money) sites on my searches. Heck, I don’t even own a smart phone or one that takes photos or audio records but it would be a good thing to know just to take the pulse of my state. The good news is, the Justice Department is on the side of it being a First Amendment right.

    http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/recording-police-officers-and-public-officials

  7. It seems if you live in Maryland, you live in a third world country within the United States. Your rights are taken by the police and the government at their discretion.
    For some reason U.S. Supreme Court rulings do not apply to Maryland government. This article is just the latest offense. Months ago the Supreme Court ruled Maryland’s procedure for permits for carrying a concealed weapon were unconstitutional, and citizens did not need to meet the criteria in the procedures,and were to be issued a permit upon request, except for convicted felons, and mentally unstable individuals.
    Maryland was ordered by law to become a shall issue state along with the other 41 states which already comply with the second ammendment. Well guess what, they are still not complying. Isn’t that considered contempt of the highest court in the land. They have filed an appeal however to delay any action the may have to take eventually.
    I hope to be able to move out of Maryland, and back to the U.S soon.

  8. This is one of the many reasons I love the ACLU. They oppose government officials, police or non-police, who abuse their authority. Of course, Mr. Turley is right. Even with a settlement for the wrongful arrest, there is almost no chance of effective disclipine to these cops. Indeed, we don’t even know who these cops are, because laws shield them revealing their names.

  9. Pat brings up a good point. What is to be done about states that use the system to delay implementing orders from the US Supreme court? Running up bureaucratic obstacles to delay in implementing a supreme court directive.

    In our state, a lawyer can be convicted (in theory because it rarely happens) of Barratry for instigating a meritless legal action against a citizen with the intent to cause harm or duress to that victim. As Pat indicated with the Shall Issue CPL case, there might have been a second amendment violation against those applying for a CPL. Could it be argued that the state was instigating a barratry issue against the citizens?

  10. This is why I never leave my home in Maryland other than to go to work. :P

    All kidding aside, yeah, I avoid the cops in MD because so many of them DO NOT CARE what the laws say or what the courts say.

  11. Here is the basic problem. I think the police academies are using selected parts of “Judge Dredd” as a training video. They believe that as Dredd would say:”I am the law!”

  12. Just Ice Homey, just ice.

    The math of Stalinism:

    “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” – Joseph Stalin

    One arrest is a whiner, a million arrests is put in a report.

  13. True story about MoCoPoPo here: a student attending one of MoCo’s high schools was driving in Bethesda with friends when he came to a police barricade. The officers looked at the kids inside the car, informed them they were doing routine searches and would they mind allowing the cops to search? The teen driver politely declined. The police pointed out that other teen drivers had allowed the search. The young driver maintained his position. The police got a little more heated in their attitude and demanded to know why they wouldn’t consent to a “routine search.” The kid said, “Well my National State and Local government teacher, Mr. X, said you have to have probable cause to search my car and I don’t see a warrant. That’s my reason.” The officer stood back and said, “Well, fu^* Mr. X!” End of story.

  14. Yo guys and gals: There is a remedy which will stop the perps. Sue them in federal courts. The opCay is a state actor under 42 United States Code Section 1983 and he has violated the constitutionally protected right of the victim. The opCay can be sued as can his superior officers and if they are employed by a town then the municipality can be sued. Attorneys fees on top of the damage award can be obtained. Punitve damages can be obtained. Listen up all you young lawyers and old who spend days in court doing divorces and bankruptcies. This statute exists and there are thousands of reported cases that uphold the right. The lawyers are lame. Commenters need to throw some blame.

  15. When are we going to see a suit against some of these police that ends in a hefty financial penalty for their disregard for our first amendment guarentees?

    Stephan Gregory Patterson
    Palmer, Alaska

  16. There are several clauses or Prongs of the First Amendment at issue here. The Right To Petition The Government for redress of grievances is a good one. The victim who is busted for filming the cops should state that he is recording the event for the presentation he will make to City Council and to the Legislature regarding the abuse by police of citizen’s rights to free assembly, free speech, and liberty. Then he should show the video on Assembly Square in front of the state legislature. Most state capitals have some place where the people are told they can assemble and petition their grievances. This puts the correct Prong before the Court when he sues the igPays in Federal Court under the Civil Rights Act violations of 42 U.S.C,. Section 1983. Ya get a jury trial. Ya can get damages against the individual cop, his superior, the chief and the city. If it is state police then you cant get to the state because of sovereign immunity but you can get to the officers, the so called state actors who have violated your civil rights.

    You dont want to poke that camera in their puss when they are doing their business,. You keep it civil. So you can sue them for the civil rights violation.

  17. We lose more of our freedoms every day. There is no place to turn. The officers are protected by their superiors and unions whom are protected by the state and the judicial.

    We literally have nowhere to turn but the occasional public outrage when a video of abuse surfaces and even then rarely does the officer(s) get terminated. Please note that requires the officers being taped.

    These officers SHOULD be fired. But they will not be. That is a big part of the problem.

    We are turning into a Police State. Our local, state and federal govts are being hijacked by Totalitarianism.
    Party is irrelevant as both engage in it gleefully.

    At some point we have to make a stand or we will lose everything and become enslaved. Technology is growing too fast for any other outcome if we do not have the govt properly chained down.

    Egypt had a Revolution without violence, so can we.

  18. And to think Wednesday….the state of Alabama is set for oral arguments to end… The special voting rights acts….. One step away….

  19. And when you serve the opCay with the court papers summoning him to federal court on the civil rights lawsuit have the process server inform him that “it is just a routine search” and “to bring his wallet”.
    “Its just a routine search” so drop your rights. Yeah, not fried chicken, just shake n bake.

  20. False arrest is a very serious problem and more widespread than people think. It is so much worse when the police distort the facts or actually lie in their arrest reports. Imagine the feeling of helplessness from being falsely arrested and armed only with the truth. The final outrage is that the Supreme Court ruled that it is Constitutional for the police to conduct a strip search of individuals brought and held in custody. Although most Americans will never undergo this indignation, unless we become a nation of sheep, this could happen to anyone and everyone at any time.

  21. If you film police you’re a criminal. If you walk into a bank and demand money you’re a criminal. If you work for a bank and give out fraudulent loans, then give yourself a huge bonus for the fraudulent loans, you’re a friend of Obama. Is something wrong here?

  22. BarkinDog – that is if you CAN get them served. I work for a process serving company – the cops give you the run around when you have to serve them. I take joy in every serve my company does though, because they are all from the same lawyer and they are ALL civil rights violation suits.

    But that’s Baltimore for you.

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