CRIME

Videotaping police incidents: Is it a crime?

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A freelance journalist was recording the recovery of an infant who was riding in a vehicle that was car-jacked last week when police told him to stop taping.

The journalist, Alan Henney, says he was not interfering with police and can clearly be seen and heard on his video footage showing police his press credentials.

"They threatened to confiscate my camera as evidence," he says.

Some residents say video-taping police helps to protect the public and recalled incidents like two Prince George's officers charged with beating a University of Maryland student.

"They should be able to tape to see if they do the right thing. Like the U Street metro when they beat the guy in the wheelchair," says D.C. resident Rondy Smith.

Chuck Tobin, a media attorney in D.C., says it doesn’t matter if you're a reporter or just a curious citizen. If you’re not interfering with police, there’s no law against taking out a video recorder, such as a cell phone, and recording footage.

Henney says this wasn't the first time police have tried to prevent him from taking pictures.

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier apologized to Henney in an e-mail and said preventing him from videotaping was a violation of policy, according to WTOP.

Last year police detained a man for taking pictures of a traffic stop. He is now suing the police department. Police also confiscated a woman's cell phone after she videotaped police arresting a man. An internal police investigation into that matter showed police took the woman's phone before they had a warrant.

 

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