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. TL

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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)

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. When someone lies on the witness stand ANYTHING they say after that is assumed to be a lie also.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. The officer was paid over $128,000 per year in 2012.
    I wonder if the DA was sent the videos if he/she would be obligated to respond to the perjury?

  12. See… The Reagan Bush era defense…. I do not recall…..would have been a better answer…..

  13. Power corrupts and the sort of absolute power many policemen exercise corrupts them absolutely. Hang this one out to dry!

  14. 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.

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