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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!”

  4. This is why I never leave my home in Maryland other than to go to work. 😛

    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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  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. It would seem quite a few sworn officers of the law have no respect for court orders.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. “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.

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