Massachusetts Police Officer False Tells Driver Videotaping Him Is A Crime And Then Denies Threatening To Take Camera At Hearing

509px-MSPSergeantUnknownWe have another case of a police officer threatening a citizen after falsely telling him that filming a police officer in public is a crime. What adds to this particularly case is that Massachusetts state police trooper Kenneth Harold is also now accused of giving false testimony under questioning by driver. We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue.

The recording of this encounter shows Harold clearly falsely claiming that filming him is a crime and clearly stating that he would seize the camera if the filming continues. Harold accused the driver of violating “the wiretap law” but, despite the efforts of Massachusetts police and prosecutors, it is legal to film officers. Indeed, the Supreme Court has ruled that the state law deals with surreptitious audio recording.

Here is the stop:

The false assertion that Maya is violating the law should itself be a disciplinary offense. However, Maya now charges that the officer lied under oath in the subsequent hearing in this exchange:

Maya: When you pulled me over, did you threaten to steal any of my property?
Harold: No, I did not.
Maya: So, you didn’t threaten to take anything of mine?
Harold: No, I did not.

. . .

Maya: Did you have a warrant to take my camera?
Harold: I’m sorry?
Maya: Did you have a warrant to take my camera?
Harold: [dodging the question] I didn’t take your camera.
Maya: But you threatened to.
Harold: No, I did not threaten to.

That does not square with the videotape of the incident in which Harold can be heard saying “I will ask you one last time, then I will take that from you.”
Here is the hearing:

Maya proceed to post a video accusing the officer of lying.

It does appear that the officer misrepresented the law and threatened a citizen who was engaging in a protected activity. It also appears clear that his testimony was not accurate. There is no record however of any disciplinary action being taken in the case.

28 thoughts on “Massachusetts Police Officer False Tells Driver Videotaping Him Is A Crime And Then Denies Threatening To Take Camera At Hearing

  1. The cop should not only lose his job, he should be and charged with perjury. Unless of course he has a Clapper defense to lying under oath.

  2. 1. It’s not perjury to testify incorrectly. Perjury requires that the testimony be knowingly false. Seems like the cop would have an easy out of any accusation by saying that when he testified he did not remember threatening to take her camera at the time of the traffic stop.

    2. Even if the cop lied, that’s not a defense to the charge of not having your inspection sticker. She’s guilty and deserved the ticket.

    3. License plate scanners are scary. Apparently the cop was able to figure out her inspection sticker was expired by running her plates in the dark and while she’s moving. Lots of technology out there that could make the police state more effective than Orwell could have imagined and makes it extra important to keep a tight rein on government generally and law enforcement in particular.

    4. Worse thing for the cop, IMHO, is not knowing the law and threatening her to turn off the camera. He should know that’s not a crime.

    5. If she wants to pursue things, the way to go is filing a complaint with police department rather than arguing it to a traffic court judge. That’s not his job.

  3. Waldo:

    I would say if the defendant proved the officer was lying about the camera issue the officer’s testimony about the traffic ticket is successfully challenged as being corrupted. And if the ticket is based on testimony from a discredited witness, the ticket should be tossed. It’s not about whether this man broke the law, it is about the evidence and its admissability.

  4. Darren, I don’t see how the officer’s credibility is at issue with the ticket. The ticket, as I understand it, was for not having had her vehicle timely inspected. She admits that on the video. She put the video into evidence herself. She never disputes the charge that her vehicle was out of inspection. If this were a case where the officer testified that the light was red and the defendant testified that the light was green, then I agree that if the officer is shown to be lying about some other detail in the traffic stop, the ticket should be tossed. Just disagree in this particular case that the ticket is based on the officer’s testimony.

  5. Nick S.: Certainly the jury may disregard the witness’ other statements, but it is not required to do so. Some jurors do disregard everything once they identify a lie. Others don’t, especially if the juror can see himself lying in a similar situation. In my experience, younger jurors are especially likely to look at the situation and specific lie in determining whether the witness is otherwise trustworthy.

  6. It seems more and more that a critically required qualification for becoming a
    LEO is the ability and willingness to commit perjury.

    Police – n. armed force for protection and participation…in every aspect of
    crime – – uh uh prevention. Franky Rizzo.

  7. When do we get the real info on this Von-munchausen syndrome by proxy at Boston Children’s. Any idea what is going on ??? .

  8. Well, this cop wasn’t as bad as some we’ve had on these blogs, but the arrogance & ‘above the law’ stance is clear. I always have a point & shoot digital camera with video on me since I went digital in 2006. I wonder if you legal buffs can tell me where it is & isn’t legal to film a police officer. Do state & city laws over-rule federal okays? This blog suggests its okay but for all the nation or what? I know cameras are not allowed in court rooms or the whole court complex. I’m guessing that elsewhere you have to be careful you’re not getting in the way or seen as such. What about TSA? I’m not sure I’d have the gall to film them ordinarily but if something happened in need of filming, I might do so if I knew my rights. (shrinking by the day since 9/11)

  9. Traveling Limey

    From what I understand it was a US Supreme Court Decision that ruled citizens can film the police in public but I don’t know what the case name was. So any state or local law prohibiting this would be unconstitional.

    But this is something for the constitutional law attorneys who are better at this than I am.

  10. TL

    LEO is an abbreviation for Law Enforcement Officer. LEA is one for Law Enforcement Agency. SO is used for Sheriff’s Office.

  11. So, this state trooper was just randomly scanning license plates when there was no evidence of wrong doing by the motorist and, apparently, no alerts for her type of vehicle?

  12. I checked out this site because I am from Massachusetts and heard that there was going to be a story on the news last night (Feb 24) about “Local Police officers, taking it to far.” Something about taking an oath to protect and serve. In Dec 1999 my daughter MacKenzie McCarthy, Perry Pappas a Fitchburg Police Officer & A Military DR who will remain unnamed at this point were together. There was a terrible auto accident. My daughter died from the results of this accident not immediately, 6 months later. We have depositions from witnesses who called the police and were at the scene. Not some random they pulled out of the crowd for a statement. My daughter was underage and Perry Pappas said she was driving. Now it’s 14 years later and people are talking, talking about just how drunk Pappas was that night. My daughter was under the influence of alcohol. Her being 20 him being 44. Theoretically that night if he saw a fist fight breakout he had the power to arrest someone. So then there’s this fine line between taking an Oath to Protect and Serve and doing nothing. Perry Pappas never ever was reprimanded, NO internal affairs investigation. He didn’t even answer the 20 questions submitted to him asking basic questions regarding the accident, that were given to him by the accident reconstruction officer Macnamara. He was protected by all involved an accident this serious and he refused treatment from on call ambulance but drove up to the Hospital in a Police car, used a payphone, acted a fool. Usually everyone has to submit blood. He was driving I have proof. He said she was. Imagine gets away with murder and then 8 years later I have to read about him driving the wrong way on I190 that’s another story. I have to believe what goes around comes around. She was my only child.

  13. I have read entirely too many blogs about this from you. It has gotten to be extremely frustrating that the cops and prosecutors alike get away with illegalities right and left. But it’s a good thing that someone such as you is reporting these illegalities. For perhaps eventually you’re shining a light on these situations will do some good. However is is becoming somewhat scary that we have been living more and more in a police state. Compound these events with violations of the Constitution that Barack Obama’s is getting away with is just damn scary & depressing. Clearly, he should be impeached. I could have sworn at two of his inaugurations he swore on a couple of Bibles that he would protect and defend against any such violations. And MSNBC has become an apologist for him. We are going in a completely wrong direction in this country. And those of us who are aware of this situation and following your blog truly in the public intrest must also feel powerless to stop it.

    On Feb 24, 2014 7:32 AM, “JONATHAN TURLEY” wrote: > > jonathanturley posted: “We have another case of a police officer threatening a citizen after falsely telling him that filming a police officer in public is a crime. What adds to this particularly case is that Massachusetts state police trooper Kenneth Harold is also now accused” >

  14. Anecdotes everywhere. Fact is, the police lie. Judges live by prejudice -“precedent” gives them the day off; puts the case on autopilot. Courtrooms are filthy pits of lies. For the uninitiated, it is shocking to learn that truth is persona non grata in police stations and courtrooms. It is understood that your valid and justified TRO against a police officer will be denied. Next case. Judges support the “brotherhood.” Public trust should be the most sacred. It is the most abused. From the Chief Justice of the SCOTUS to the lowest-ranking reserve officer, the penalties for violating the public trust should be the most severe. Even the hint of a conflict of interest should be grounds for irrevocable removal and criminal prosecution. Police ARE the public trust. The public trust must never be breached. Corrupt politicians treat judges and police as personal allies and reward them as loyal palace guards. The “brotherhood” persists and is invulnerable. The public trust does not exist. In a perfect world, not individuals, not personalities, not desires, but the law and right prevail.

  15. Teh police and prosecutors know that only people who can afford them actually have constitutional rights. How many of us could afford to pay $10K to defend or puruse the criminal acts of a police officer. The police officer can do this one hundred times before a citizen will have the where with all to demand his or her constitutional rights.

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