Having a cellphone that can record video is commonplace but the police in Baltimore apparently do not like this fact. When Christopher Sharp pulled out his cellphone to record officers making an arrest, it upset the officers. One officer ordered sharp to “Do me a favor and turn that off. It’s illegal to record anybody’s voice or anything else.” When Sharp did not comply, the officer confiscated his cellphone and started to delete videos. Not only did the officer delete the video of the arrest but also family and personal videos of Sharp.
A Baltimore city court ruled that the police were in the wrong and violated Sharp’s First Amendment rights when they seized his cellphone.
Despite what the officer said, it is not illegal to record police officers doing their job. The city now has to pay a hefty price for this officer’s actions. In a first of its kind lawsuit, Sharp will receive $25,000 for the police action and lawyer fees of $225,000. The Baltimore police commissioner will also issue a written apology to Sharp and create a new policy to train officers on the proper response and legality of a person recording their actions.
The American Civil Liberties Union called it a landmark case that will serve as a model for the rest of the country.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts stated, “I think it’s pretty clear people have the right to film what we do. You guys are doing it right now so it should be a norm for this organization.”