Maryland Police Confiscate Biker's Computers After He Catches Questionable Activity On Helmet Cam

from the that's-not-how-this-is-supposed-to-work dept

sceptic writes:

“A motorcyclist was showboating and recording himself doing it using a helmet cam. While stopped at a stop light, an off duty police officer stepped out of his (unmarked) car with his gun drawn. The rider received a citation and posted the whole episode on YouTube. 4 days later MD state police seized his computers and helmet cam and threatened to arrest him because it is illegal to record someone without their consent.”

You can see a long version of the events (without any sound) which shows the 3 minutes leading up to the incident here:

Or if you want to just see the part where the off duty cop pulls the gun (with sound), it’s here:

The laws against audibly recording someone without their permission are not designed for situations like this one. They’re designed for eavesdropping or things like recording phone calls. Using such a law to crack down on a guy showing an off-duty police officer totally overreacting to a traffic stop by drawing his weapon seems like a clear abuse of this sort of law.

However, now that we’re reaching an age when everything anyone sees will soon be able to be recorded — and for years, various research groups have been working on tools to make that easier — these kinds of laws may need to be revisited. If many people are wearing devices that record everything they see and hear, suddenly such laws become a bit ridiculous — even outside of the clear abuse above when such laws are being used to punish a whistleblower.

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Comments on “Maryland Police Confiscate Biker's Computers After He Catches Questionable Activity On Helmet Cam”

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Hugh Mann (profile) says:

Re: Involuntary recording

Well, I’m not sure I would agree that merely continuing your conduct in the presence of what might be an “obvious” camera is not the same as consenting, especially when the camera is in the hands of a private individual (as opposed to traffic cams, security cameras in public areas or in malls, etc.).

HOWEVER, given that this officer (whether off-duty or not) was engaged in his role as a public servant, I think he should not be able to lay claim to any expectation of privacy. If a news reporter just happened to be standing nearby and captured the whole thing on a camera belonging to a news organization, there’d be no argument here.

That being said, I would understand that the video might be considered evidence, and that the police/prosecuter might need to use it as such.

On a related note, I think that private citizens captured on police dash-cams should be able to obtain a copy of the tape of their encounter with the officer, whether there is a dispute over what the tape shows or not.


HolyCow says:

Re: Involuntary recording

If people don’t know Uhler – the one with the gun is the one who swore out the warrant. He goes into great detail in it except he never mentions drawing his gun. You can also see him hide it behind his right leg as the squad pulls up – NO LIGHTS OR SIREN… Also Uhler car also is not showing any lights either. Uhler is required to file a deadly force report due to him drawing his gun and he has not. When all this stupidity is over Uhler and the state are going to pay for a civil rights case cha ching $$$$..

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Public / Private

If many people are wearing devices that record everything they see and hear, suddenly such laws become a bit ridiculous

I can see where there may logical modifications, but I certainly hope we do not entirely do away with these laws.

While I can see sense in liberalizing the laws for video taken in public places, I would never want to lose a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in my home, for instance. That would play much better into the hands of tyrants than serve any socially useful purpose for perpetual life-documentary creation (an interesting phenomenon, but an entire waste of time IMO).

In any case, video of public employees (especially police) on the job should not be restricted. They ought to be accountable to the people they purportedly serve.

Dumbguy says:

Video was shot in public on an obviously visible camera. Case dismissed.

Also, in the cop’s defense, the motorcycle was rolling backwards away from the cop as he got out, making it look at a glance like the cyclist might try to run for it. The gun was always pointed straight down and was put away immediately when the cycle stopped moving. That’s a far cry from “totally overreacting”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Policeman = Moron

Looks to me like they were steering the bike backwards and when he drops his head they are clearly there. I have all the respect in the world for the police that do their job and take the chances they do, however guys like this one need to stay behind a desk and never be allowed to brandish a gun.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

To further clarify, I think the officer’s position is slightly more understandable since it seems the biker’s hands were obscured. I can’t really tell from the video because he wasn’t looking at his hands. He was looking at the guy who just pulled a gun on him.

Also, 13%?! That’s almost 100%!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Maybe the number needs context.

16% were on disturbance calls
14% were in robbery arrest situations
14% were investigating suspicious persons/circumstances
13% were making traffic pursuits/stops
13% were attempting arrests for offenses other than robbery or burglary
10% were in ambush situations
7% were in an arrest situation involving drug-related matters
5% were in a burglary arrest situation arrests
6% were in other situations

One of the more likely ways to die, all things considered.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

> In a civilised country the officer wouldn’t even have had a gun.

I always get a chuckle when people like you say idiotic things like this. We never see you folks out there putting your lives on the line unarmed against people who want nothing more than to kill you, but you have no problem pontificating that others should be willing to do just that to protect you.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

humm. ‘course, you could look at the countries where the cops, excepting S.W.A.T analogs (in NZ’s case, the Armed Offenders Squad, occasionally with military support if things have gone really pear-shaped.) don’t carry guns in the first place.

it’s actually less dangerous for all concerned, including the cops. (no possibility of the criminal managing to disarm them and turn the gun on the police officer, the likelihood of which is one of the major reasons armed police officers end up shooting people, and the criminal in question, feeling less threatened, is less inclined to act violently in the first place.)

that said, such police officers are usually well trained in hand to hand combat, commonly carry batons of some description or other bits of equipment which can be easily made to serve the purpose, and do wear body armour when heading into potentially hazardous situations.

‘course, it’s a heck of a lot harder for random crazies to get hold of usable weapons in the first place, here, especially ones with any range.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The cop did not announce himself, no lights were on, no badge was shown, no patches were shown. The cop got out and instantly pulled his gun. I would have backed off as well, if not dive for cover. It looked like a jacking. The cop did not announce himself as a cop until after he grabbed the bike and then he put the gun away. Even though it was down, that was still a threatening action. Hell, the way the cop pulled beside the bike and tried to cut off an escape route (while understandable) was still a threatening action and would warrant a biker backing off.

The cop had every right to pull this guy over he just did it vary, vary wrong. The cop just doesn’t like that he got caught of camera this time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Watching the video WITHOUT audio is… yea. Like you said. Watching the video it looks like

Some guy ran me off the road…
Okay he is opening his door, time to get out of here…
Holy crap he is drawing a gun!

Audio MIGHT make the video less… uh… frightful. Watching it without audio though, I mean… dang.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Then watch the one with the audio. It’s directly under the one without it.

The only audio that we do not hear that may make a difference is a police siren. But, since the unmarked cop car did not have his lights on (no audio needed for that one), there would be no way to know he was the one making the noise or even if he was a real cop (I can get a siren for my car).

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

So the gray car that cut the biker off is not equipped to pull anyone over. So even if the biker had presence of mind to look into the car to see if it was an actual cop car, he would see just a normal every day car. That makes this even more BS. There was no way in hell the biker would know that was an off duty cop without him saying something or holding a badge.

That also makes the audio in the long file even less important since there can be no audio that would be relevant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Watching the video, I was thinking that if I was in the biker’s shoes, the first thing I would have thought was oh shit I’m being jacked. And if the guy brandished a gun at me like that, even hearing him shriek “I’m a cop!” wouldn’t have done much to assure me of his station. I would have politely insisted on seeing his badge.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If a pissed off guy cut me off and got out of his car then pulled a gun on me, I would do what he said even if I didn’t see a badge. I don’t want my last words to be “Sure thing! Just show me your badge, officer“.

Of course, that in-and-of itself is a commentary on modern-day policing.

Alimas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I was one time actually stopped by a couple of guys who had themselves made up to try to seem like cops. This allowed them to get up close to me where they interrogated me at gun point for all my personal information and tried to take my bike. Some people showed up and the guys abandoned their cause, but not without taking some pot shots at me. They had “official sounding” speak, walkie-talkies, guns but no believable badges, even from a distance.

Nobody, especially an officer, should expect anyone to realize you’re an officer simply because you have a weapon and told someone to stop. They should be identifying themselves and presenting a badge first, until then you’re just an aggressive stranger with a fatal weapon.

I probably would’ve bailed on this officer soon as I saw he was getting out with a gun.

Joshua (profile) says:

Re: Re:


1. Running from cops is not grounds for use of deadly force. I’m not an expert on the force spectrum used by police officers, but I question whether anything the guy did justified the drawing of the officer’s gun. I speculate that, in lieu of a uniform and badge, the officer drew his gun in order to have a symbol of authority that would induce compliance.

2. The cop drew his gun and began giving orders before he identified himself as an officer. If I had been the cyclist, I would have believed that I was about to be murdered. If the motorcyclist had been armed (as many motorcyclists are), this situation could have ended very differently.

V (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I was thinking the same thing…if that cyclist had been quick to react, that cop would have been disarmed, and beaten to a bloody pulp…the way he came out with the gun it really looks like the dude is gonna be assaulted.

A cop with no badge, no car, no markings, no uniform is not a cop. ANYONE can walk up with a gun and say “Police”, until you prove that, I am not listening…it is called self preservation.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

> Running from cops is not grounds for use of deadly force.

It can be. According to the Supreme Court, use of deadly force on a fleeing felon can be justified if the police can articulate that the person just committed a violent crime and there’s a high likelihood that he/she will present a continuing threat to public safety if not stopped.

That said, no cop with half a brain is going to risk shooting a fleeing suspect in the back and hope he can meet that standard.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well of course he’s going to run for it. Someone in PLAIN CLOTHES WITH A GUN DRAWN starts running at you. The dipshit moron cop didn’t show a badge, he didn’t even fucking identify himself as police until AFTER he DREW HIS GUN.

Jesus fucking christ on a god damn pogo stick. The cop is lucky the guy didn’t have a concealed carry permit. Start running at someone with a gun in plain clothes BEFORE you identify yourself as police is asking to get yourself shot.

Now if the cop were in uniform, or showed a badge, or said “state police” when he opened his door, or had lights on the car, or somehow identified himself as a cop then it would be a different story.

Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Also, in the cop’s defense, the motorcycle was rolling backwards away from the cop as he got out, making it look at a glance like the cyclist might try to run for it.
Let’s see, a civilian car cuts you off and the civilian driver jumps out of the vehicle with a gun, yelling at you. Yeah, I’d try to get the hell out of there too!

The officer pulled his gun, unprovoked, and he didn’t even bother to mention that he was an officer until well after the fact. I’m no law enforcement officer, but it’s hard to believe that is standard procedure.

DJ KUTT says:

Re: Re:


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Sure, but in the biker’s defense, there are a lot of scary, aggressive drivers out there, and some dude swerving in front of the bike like that, unmarked car, and leaping out with a gun?? I’d be freaking out that I’d made some crazy person who doesn’t like bikes decide to take the law into their own hands.

I’m a biker too. Well trained, and I ride a cruiser so I don’t do the “showboating” thing so much, but drivers get MAD sometimes and it’s scary when you don’t have a cage around you.

Robert says:

Re: Re:

Just saw this story this morning, I would roll backwards too. The cop was in street cloths in a non marked vehicle. The bike started rolling away as soon as the car pulled in front of him. He did not know who this guy was.

The cop pulled a gun and approached the bike. The words state police should have been the first words out of his mouth but they were not. AS SOON as he said state police the guy stopped…

Also, the case was thrown out by the judge.

Urza9814 says:

Re: Re:

I believe his badge is out the entire time – it’s on his belt – but the problem is that it’s _behind him_ as he approaches the motorcycle. The cyclist wouldn’t have been able to see it until much later, after the guy announces he’s a cop and moves over to the left side of the bike. It’s on his right hip, and from what I can tell he makes sure his sweater isn’t covering it…though that doesn’t really help when it’s behind him.

known coward says:

Why is it that it is the law is wrong

While i think the cop has no expectation of privacy in the role he played and just the fellows testimony to the gun draw should be enough (and yes i know cops lie on the stand).

Why is it the law has to change? If it was me walking down the street or eating at an ice cream shoppe, why is it OK for him to violate my privacy just becasue it is easy to do with technology?

Maybe the cop should be thrown off the force and the guy arrested? I am sure he has video of lots of folks on their without their direct consent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why is it that it is the law is wrong

Becuase there is 0 expectation of privacy in public. In a private place that you have control over, yes, there is an expectation of privacy. But by going out on the street, you are implicitly giving consent.

Careful of those people with cameras! You know they can steal your soul with those!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why is it that it is the law is wrong

“If it was me walking down the street or eating at an ice cream shoppe, why is it OK for him to violate my privacy just becasue it is easy to do with technology?”

Because you don’t have any privacy walking down the street or eating at an ice cream shoppe.

Cops lie in court all the time says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why is it that it is the law is wrong

Then the dash cam is against the law, if they try to impose that its illegal for people to video cops for their case then the cops shouldn’t be able to use the dash cam or the stop light cams. Any way I don’t trust any policeman they are thugs and liars that hide their crimes with a badge.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re: Why is it that it is the law is wrong

There’s always the fourth-amendment standard of privacy. The police are allowed to stake out your house without a warrant because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy once you walk out the door. Private investigators are probably also careful about only shooting their mark in public.

known coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why is it that it is the law is wrong

you did misread it, but i appreciate the defense anyway.

The points that I am trying to make are

1. That ‘I’ am not a public figure and have a right to free assembly and not to have my whereabouts tracked without a reasonable suspision of my wrong doing, or a warrent. A public figure has sacrificed that right, I have not. Personally i believe the cop as a public employee can be taped by the populous at large or by a cam in his car as part of the oversite of his duty by his employers, (the people).

More importantly

2. Just becasue a technology makes it easy to do things, does not mean doing those things should be legal. Again in the instant case i think the taping is OK, but if he were taping me eating ice cream in the ice cream shoppe without MY consent. I think he should be criminally sanctioned. The fact that the taping can easily be done is not a valid reason to make it legal.

Hopefully i have explained myself better.

Xander C (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why is it that it is the law is wrong

You are correct in both instances, but those ideas are not fully related to the subject at hand or to your original argument.

Your house and home is where your privacy starts and ends at for the most part. Anything that you do in your car (for example) that can be viewed by the public at large isn’t considered private. (Like waiting a stop light and looking to your right and left, seeing someone shaving in their car or singing to themselves. your only real protection is if you have anything in your car that’s not in public view like a glove box).

Walking down the street, and you’re not expected to be able to reserve any rights of privacy unless it’s on your being. (Like walking around with a cell phone, your texts are viewable to the public if they can see it clearly.) In a shop, your privacy is subject to the shop’s owners. once again, unless it’s something on your on being, it’s not up to debate since it’s not your house and home.

On the other end of the scale, yes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should tape everyone. Just because you can see what a person is typing and texting, doesn’t give you the right to go over a stranger’s shoulder and read out loud their messages. We have laws to try and extend privacy into public locations, but for the most part, the social norms are enough of a deterrent.

reddog (profile) says:

Re: Why is it that it is the law is wrong

Uhmm . . .

“Why is it the law has to change? If it was me walking down the street or eating at an ice cream shoppe, why is it OK for him to violate my privacy just becasue it is easy to do with technology??

If you are walking down the street in public, you know where everyone can see you in Public view, you really can’t expect too much privacy. If you want privacy you should probably not go out in public . . .

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Badge

You’re right. I watched it again looking at his right hip and there it was. First few times I was too distracted by some guy cutting off a biker, then getting out and pulling a gun on him.

Just because you are a police officer does not mean people will automatically know this. If you are in uniform, or have you badge placed prominently (not under your pull-over) this can also tip people off. Pulling out a gun also works, but depending on gun laws in the area can also mean: psychopath.

PolyPusher (profile) says:

Re: Re: The Badge

Forget the “gun laws in the area” part. I see someone in plain clothes, no lights, no readily visible badge “hang it around your neck and over the center of your chest maybe” I don’t care what the gun laws are, I would assume psychopath.

Ironically, what happened here reminds me of something that happened in my neighborhood recently. A guy in a van stopped his truck suddenly in front of a neighbor of mine in the early evening. He jumped out with a gun mugged my neighbor and took off.

That is what I will assume is happening if a guy jumps out of his car with a gun.

Cynyr (profile) says:

Re: The Badge

badge in hand would have been a lot more visible. I would have done the same as this guy, backed up and kept it running when that door started opening. He get out of the car with his left side facing the bike, his shirt down over his belt line, and “waving” a gun around. Announcing you are “state patrol” isn’t going to cut it with out some form of identification. doubly so if i know i’m recording this to “the cloud”, as well as had all of those other cars around me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Helmet Cams

Ahem, every one of those are easy to see, Did he have to have a highly pronounced warming “recording in progress” on him as well?

I’ve personaly invested in a few gadgets just for traffic stops as well, a dash cam (that can see my speed), and a driver window cam (to see whos talking to me) and just to be safe the few times I get pulled over the first thing out of my mouth is “this conversation is being recorded”.

Once a cop got really mad at that and asked me to stop and where the tape was, he felt even worse when he found out it was being saved “On the Internet”.

Sadly some states have caselaw on the books that says “traffic stops are not public”. I am unsure how far up cases like that have gone but I doubt anything has gotten to a state court. As such you basicly have to treet everything as a 2 party state (both need to know) or risk a charge like this.

Skippy T. Mut says:

Way to far

This cop should be put on desk duty until he can be properly trained on what constitutes a valid reason to PULL A FUCKIN GUN ON SOMEONE! I don’t care where it was pointed…he didn’t identify himself as a police officer until after he had pushed the driver back and demanded he get off the motorcycle. He was in an unmarked car and was not uniformed. He was way out of line to even approach the driver, let alone PULL A FUCKIN GUN ON HIM! I get why the MD state police would want to stop this from getting out, but they really should apoliogizing to the driver instead of harrasing him and repremanding the officer instead of trying to cover up for him. This is a gross abuse of power.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: only when its a cop is it illegal LOL

While I agree that the officer needed to identify himself, a vehicle weather it be a car or a motorcycle can always be used as a weapon against you, especially if you are standing in front of it. In my experience, it is not uncommon for a biker to take off when attempted to be pulled over. If you are standing in front of the bike when that happens, then the bike becomes a deadly weapon.

ScottMo says:

More to story?

Something doesn’t seem right in the video. The motorcyclist passes what appears to be the off-duty cop’s car at the 2:26 mark (on the longer video with no sound). The cyclists then exits the highway, turns and looks back to see the off-duty cop again (at 3:00). At 3:22 the off-duty copy sees someone behind the motorcyclist and his demeanor changes. At the very end of the video you clearly see a marked police car with a uniformed officer walking toward the cyclist & off-duty cop.

What’s the issue going on there? Seems like there’s more to this story

Cynyr (profile) says:

Re: More to story?

the looking back behind him is probably because he hears a car accelerating to catch up with him. at 3:22 it looks like the backup the off duty cop called for showed up. I’m willing to bet large sums that off duty cops have a way to call for a uniformed officer should they need one. The reason for the demeanor change would be that his backup is now here, and it’s 2v1 at that point.
Still doesn’t excuse the badge or “I’m a state patrol officer” being the first things the biker sees/hears. Prior to that it would look like a jacking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

not a lame response something very important. the rodney king tape is different when you see more of the tape. too many sport bike owners think its fun to ride around really fast take risks and record it to put online. that an undercover cop was tracking this guy says that there is more to the story. that the masnick chooses to ignore the situation and pass judgement based on a small amount of video is incredibly self-serving.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There may be more to the story, but the off-duty cop got out of his car and drew his gun without identifying himself. Running away would have been a perfectly legitimate response to this.

The biker in question may have been engaged in nefarious activities, but that does not excuse the wild behavior exhibited by the cop. He needed to act more reasonably and should be held accountable.

FormerAC (profile) says:

Re: Re:

intending to break the law?

So we can arrest/harass/threaten people with a gun now if we think they are intending to break the law? Which law? Speeding? Jay walking? Right turn on red?

How do you prove intent to break the law if he didn’t actually break the law?

What horrendous crime did this motorcyclist commit that an off duty cop felt the need to pull him over (without the benefit of a police car, police lights and siren) and pull his gun on him? Did he cause an accident? Did he run over three nuns visiting an orphanage?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Loitering with intent”

As for the biker, he was driving recklessly. That put himself and others in danger. He absolutely deserved to be pulled over…By a uniformed police officer…with his lights on…who announces himself…and has a conspicuous badge…without the need to draw a weapon upon an unarmed civilian…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“he was still on his motorcycle”
He was driving on the road, yes. Of course he was on his motocycle. Nobody gets out of their car and stands next to it at every light in case a plain-clothes officer decides to draw their weapon on them.

“And as I looked him in the eyes, I could tell he was going to run me over.”

“How could you tell?”

“His bike was idle and was rolling backwards.”

Also, please use the shift key TAM. I know no caps is part of the whole troll ensemble, but you’re posting more seriously on this thread than others…

Telephone Tuff Guy says:

Dash board cams

I don’t know much about maryland but here in NJ our police have dashboard cams. u know like the ones on those worst highway patrol shows? is that a violation of privacy? also i do know that a police officer can pull a weapon preemptivly if danger to himself or civilans is preconcluded (but i think that it would be hard to argue in court)but you need to be loudly annoucing your self as police or law enforcment or the agency that you work for.
This is seems like a case where a cop made a bad call in exicution but was doing what he thought was in the best intrest of the public good. He did not shoot the guy, he was just protecting himself. IMHO he does not look like he is trying to intimidate the guy or he would have held the gun on him longer and in a more threating manner so i conclude that he is doing what he is trained and keeping as safe as possible but; he ABSOULTELY should have made that he was a police officer more than evident for the reason Anonymous Coward said about a pulling a CCL’ed weapon on. A faster draw is all it takes to lose your life and not announcing his title was a big mistake and i would put money on it that he wil be atht eh least repremanded for it b/c he put his and the riders life in danger; and by that i mean the rider could defend him self by pulling a wepon and be shot by the officer.

AR says:

This cop is extremely lucky his actions didnt trigger a different result. He should have been grabbing his badge first and then the gun. What would have happened if the biker was legally carrying a concealed weapon in a castle law state? lets see… Someone forces him off the road, immediately pulls a gun, and tells him to get off the bike. can you say “carjack”. This is why we have laws that state how the police are required to immediately identify themselves by words, lights, markings, or badges. He was lucky he didnt cause a fire fight. If that would have happened this cop would not want me on the jury. I know cops and I like cops, but they are not the law. they are subject to the law. Just like the rest of us. As for the video, the police are subject to being recorded. Just like we are from dash cams. IMO this is abuse of power and the cops are using antiquated laws to cover it up. Bring it to my state and put me on the jury.

AR says:

Re: Re: Re:

The idiocy was on the part of the cop. By not following the law and procedure he put everyone at risk. As shown in the video, the biker did not make a threatening move with the bike after he pulled over. Only the cop in immediately pulling a firearm without identifying himself as a cop. Now if the video showed the biker going after the cop, without his be able to identify himself as a cop, then it would be diffarent. BUT it doesnt. Use your head before calling people an idiot

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Person 1: Gets out of car, displays badge and shouts, “Police!”

Person 2: Gets out of car and draws small firearm.

To almost any person, Person 1 is more likely to be a police officer and Person 2 is more likely to be a car-jacker. Of course, it could also be a case of impersonation or improper announcement (as it is here), but that’s not the issue at hand. The issue is: when someone cuts you off and draws a weapon, do you think, Gee, this must be an off-duty police officer. Hell no! You’re thinking, Holy crap! Who is this guy and why does he have a gun drawn? And you’re thinking that because usually police announce themselves to avoid this kind of confusion!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Some states avoid this

Actually, does anyone in this thread know what MD gun laws are like? If it’s anything like MA (another nearby blue state) then they’re probably fairly restrictive. He may have judged it was very unlikely that the biker had a weapon, so announcing himself was not as critical. Of course, that is missing the point that if the biker is most likely not going to have a gun, then he doesn’t need to draw his.

Unless, that is, the bullets would somehow stop the bike from hitting him after the biker decided to sprint.

Eponymous Coward, AKA Doug (profile) says:

Interesting to note:

I’d wager that the police car that shows up at the end of the video had a dashboard camera, with audio recording to boot. If the police are willing to press this “no audio recording without consent” bit, then I’d say the biker has the grounds for a nice countersuit.

I’ve been pulled over before, and at no time was I greeted with “Sir, do I have your permission to record this encounter, with audio?”

JW says:

No one seems to have noticed that there was also a cop behind the biker who may have had his siren and lights on. Also, have none of you guys ever seen something where you said to yourself “If only I had been outside to catch that SOB I would have…” This is probably the state of mind of the cop who was following this biker who was obviously traveling at very high speed, passing people on the right at 90+mph, etc. This kind of behavior is exactly what causes innocent people to die and the guy needed to be stopped. The cop was probably angry and on the spur of the moment decided on a momentary show of force since he didn’t have his uniform on. I agree he should have shown his badge first and probably could have avoided pulling his weapon. But the bottom line is he stopped an ahole who was endangering other people’s lives just to make a damn video of himself.

Regarding the confiscation of his computers, that might be justified if there was an investigation to see if this guy had lots of other videos of high speed showboating, evidence that might be relevant when he goes to court. I don’t buy the argument about permission to videotape though, that is no reason to take the stuff.

AnonymousCoward says:

The issue isn’t that the officer pulled a gun. It’s a little overreacting, but we don’t know what the rider was doing. Either way, it’s largely a non-issue.

The issue is he is charged with an illegal recording for having an officer walk into his video tape. They seized his property as a result. If you cannot ever record an officer, you will always be at a disadvantage in any issue involving excessive force (or similar). There is no way to hold public officials (including police) accountable for their actions, b/c you’ll never be able to directly prove what actually happened.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Exactly. Since when are you not allowed to record police in the course of their duties? Then most of the videos of cops beating on people would be illegal. Whether the cop was right or wrong, the problem is that the police department came after this guy to try and suppress this video. That is VERY disturbing.

arrgster says:

double standard

Almost all police have cameras in their cars these days. Also there are now more and more poll mounted cameras owned by the police. Whenever people argue about their privacy being invaded by police the police always use the “you’re in a public place therefore you have no privacy” argument. or the “if you’re not doing anything wrong then you should mind being recorded” argument.

So now we have the cops saving “invasion of privacy” and all I have to say is. you’re in a public place and if you weren’t doing anything wrong then why do you care. kind of sucks when the shoe is on the other foot..

Anonymous Coward says:


I call bull*%*#! The guy looks behind him as he’s coming up on traffic. Just seconds later we get another shot of him looking to the rear of the bike and a marked state trooper is already on scene. This guy knew he was getting pulled over, he knew he was wrong and is just trying to weasel his way out of it.
I despise police abuse as well as abuses to citizens privacy but this situation just doesn’t apply. Calling this situation abuse just draws attention away from real cases of abuse and weakens the argument.

Ron says:

Another example of Cops Gone Wild

This is not a case where cops want to protect someone’s privacy rights…but one where a cop who is out of uniform drawing a deadly weapon on a citizen b/c he thinks he can is now embarassed and wants revenge for it. Its simple and the cop should be thrown out. How many times are we going to accept these police monkeys abusing the power given to them to protect and serve the citizens of this country?? F-the police -Ice T

Michial Thompson (user link) says:


The fact that there is a cop car behind him was more than enough of an “identification.”

Several things here:

1) The unmarked car pulls in front of the bike AFTER the bike has pulled over (probably pulled over for the MARKED car right behind him).

2) The officer did not EXIT the car with the weapon, in fact he was fully out of the car and had already issued the order to “get off the motorcycle.” BEFORE he pulled the weapon, and AFTER the bike starts backing up.

3) The weapon was not pulled ON the guy, but placed at the ready AFTER the guy made an attempt to EVADE the officer. At no point was the guy threatened with the weapon or even was the weapon pointed at him.

For the IdIOTS that think this guy even had time to pull a weapon “if he had one,” your ignorance shines. The motorcyclist would have been dead with several rounds center mass the moment his hands reach for a weapon, and with gloves on he had ZERO chance of even attempting to use one.

This officers actions were JUSTFIED, and the need to identify himself wasn’t even a requirement in this case because the uniformed officers were already on scene and the motorcyclist had absolutely no reason to think it was anything other than a traffic stop.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Idiots

1) Then a uniformed police officer already had it handled.

2) He was not an officer at the time he issued the order, nor was he an officer at the time he drew his weapon. He was an officer at the point which he presented his badge. That’s how you know someone is telling the truth when they say, “I’m a police officer.”

3) This is correct. He never pointed the weapon at the biker or had it leveled above the biker’s mid-section (any accidental shot would not likely have been lethal even if it were aimed at the biker…which it wasn’t). You can also see that his finger is not poking through the guard, meaning his trigger discipline was correct. People who said he pointed his gun at the biker were incorrect. However, claiming he drew the weapon on the biker is not incorrect. It’s pretty obvious he wasn’t just taking it out to inspect it himself. He drew it as a deterent to prevent the biker from attempting an escape. When you draw a gun on someone, you are making a statement; something to the effect of, “If you don’t do what I say, I will shoot you.”

4) Yes, the people who claimed they would have shot him would have to be quick-draw champions to not take 2 in the chest. The guy already had his gun out and ready (Rule 1: always treat a gun as if it is loaded…even when the other guy is holding it). There is no way a normal person could have shot this guy first unless they were already taking their gun out the moment the door opened.

Paul Product says:

If the story were just what was shown on video, it would be like a dozen other police overreaction videos we’ve seen on Youtube (and have been linfed to on Techdirt). Many of us would then express outrage, while others would defend the ostensible need for police to use as much force as they want because other people might be dangerous. (There would be lots of stats about how many cops are killed int raffic stops, and of course there would be lots of posts about gun laws.)

But the story here is that, in addition to having been pulled over (justifiably, from the looks of the video) in a manner that appears unjustified (again, judging from the video), the biker is being charged with violating Maryland “wiretapping” laws. That’s what makes this case different (and frankly, a lot more relevant to Techdirt).

If the Youtube videos are the basis for the wiretapping charge, then the case ought to be thrown out (and whichever state’s attorney signed off on the case ought to be ashamed). Maryland’s law does not apply to video-only recordings, and only applies to audio recordings of private conversations made without consent. And asserting that the interaction captured in the video is a “private conversation” would not pass the laugh test. You can brush up on what Maryland’s own AG’s office thinks of its wiretapping law here:

But maybe there’s more to the wiretapping charge. Did the biker record other private conversations not shown on the video? Has been been using the thing as a nanny cam at his house or something? If so, then maybe there’s something else that supports the wiretap charge. But the Youtube videos don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The news coverage of the case turns out to be pretty slim, with a number of stories from early April stating that Graber hadn’t yet been charged. (According to his Youtube comments, that happened later and he turned himself in on April 14.) Anyway, it does not appear that the focus of the wiretapping charge is anything other than the Youtube video.

btr1701 (profile) says:

How did they know?

> “Graber gets his citation and heads home, only to have the state
> police show up a few days later with a warrant for four computers,
> two laptops and his camera.

Even more disturbing… how did the police know how many computers (and whether they were laptops vs desktops) the guy had before they got to his house?

AnonCow says:

He said “Get off the motorcycle” three times while displaying a weapon before he only verbally identified himself as a police officer.

In the time it took him to do that, I could have pulled my own handgun and shot him thinking that I was being attacked.


One dead moron cop and video that proves he never identified himself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Recording someone without their permission is only “tricky” if they have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” when you recorded them.

That’s why the news crews covering Times Square on New Year’s Eve don’t need signed consent forms by everybody in camera range.

You do NOT have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” on a public highway.

Particularly if you get out of your car.

Yeebok (profile) says:

Admittedly I’m not from the US but I am a motorcyclist. I don’t see a marked car at all, though it appears it is the car *behind* the car that pulls in front. It appears to me the biker hears a siren and pulls over, then has some **** haul up in front of him and whip out a gun. Either way it’s appallingly stupid behaviour for the unmarked vehicle – the bike had already stopped, the marked car was there, and aside from getting to go home and masturbate about pulling his gun on someone, there was no need for the unmarked car to even stop. Personally he should be behind a desk for the rest of his life.

Dave Wieneke (user link) says:

Ironic, but standard, tactic - arrest those who videotape

In Boston there are two cases – where officers have followed training and arrested those who catch the arrest of others on tape.

This is part of a larger trend in which citizens’ impulse to record public events is treated as criminal behavior by law enforcement officials. Blogs such as War on Photography and Photography is Not a Crime pick this theme up.

Its ironic that laws made to protect the public from state intrusion, are being turned to protect the state from scrutiny.

Traffic Lawyer (user link) says:


To me, this case represents a clear example of police misconduct, and shameless over-reaching. The video clearly shows that there was no justification for the officer to brandish his weapon, and rather than acknowledge the lapse of judgment, the Maryland state police responded by abusing their power.

Why can’t people accept responsibility for their actions? It never ceases to amaze me at the lengths that people will go to avoid simply apologizing.

H. Johnson says:

Drawn firearm???

What was the reason for the officer to approach a traffic stop with a drawn handgun? Is this some new Maryland policy? Even if the biker was preparing to flee…which is unlikely, there would have been no justification to shoot him for speeding or attempting to flee a traffic stop. Apparently firearms training is a low priority for Maryland State Police…I’m not surprised, it is Maryland after all.

Doug says:

What is the Police Officer's name?

What is the Officer’s name, and where is he based.
We need to know who the Police Officer is. This officer is clearly a danger to society. When he abuses others it may be important for their defense in court to be able to show this tape and show the Officer is a rogue cop. WHAT IS THE OFFICER’S NAME. it’s important to public safety that this Officer is exposed for what he is before he can damage large numbers of people. We can’t let these monsters run free anonymously in society with massive police power. It isn’t safe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Who needs a badge when you have a gun? All of the power, none of the paper work.

If a random guy got out of an unmarked car and drew on me, your damn right Id run. 90% of people abducted at gunpoint end up murdered, hell ive even seen police warn people in my area NOT to pull over for unmarked vehicles after a rash of robberies by a guy impersonating a police officer.

lawless1 says:

officer in the wrong

Clearly he is not a state police officer if any one noticed he addresses himself as police officer with his gun drawn not displaying his badge shortly the helmet can pans behind the wearer and you notice 2 uniformed state troopers with there guns holstered then the helmet pans back the guy has a oh shit look on his face and quickly holsters his weapon this is because the troopers car behind the motorcyclist had caught the mall cops over reaction. A gun should not be drawn unless you have a intent to kill otherwise this does run as attempted premeditated murder. Bottom lime the officer if we can call him that with no badge displayed or no visible strobes on the car he may not be a cop.

Anonymous Coward says:

Some states avoid this

“MD is a “May Issue” state. That means you may get a CCL if and only if the Chief of the MD State Police approves it.”

…or you are a hard core criminal.

It would not surprise me if criminals with guns outnumbered cops 20:1 in any metro area.

Oh, and don’t forget another factor: you are not allowed to work as policeman if your IQ is higher then the door handle.
Have you ever heard of a cop with PhD?

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