Charges Dropped Against Motorcyclist Who Filmed Plainclothes Cop

Charges have been dropped against Anthony Graber, a motorcyclist who filmed a plainclothes Maryland State Trooper during a traffic stop and uploaded the video to YouTube. According to the Baltimore Sun,

Judge Emory A Pitt Jr. tossed all the charges filed against Anthony Graber, leaving only speeding and other traffic violations, and most likely sparing him a trial that had been scheduled for Oct. 12. The judge ruled that Maryland’s wire tap law allows recording of both voice and sound in areas where privacy cannot be expected. He ruled that a police officer on a traffic stop has no expectation of privacy.

“Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public,” the judge wrote. “When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation.”

On March 5th, 2010, Graber sped past an unmarked car driven by officer Joseph Uhler going at very high speeds and wearing a GoPro helmet cam. Uhler — in plainclothes — followed Graber as he took an exit, stopped in front of him, and ordered him to stop with a gun drawn. After leaving with a citation, Graber posted the video he had recorded (shown above) on YouTube, prompting a search and seizure arrest warrant against him for breaking “wiretapping” laws. In May the ACLU wrote,

On March 15, the trooper obtained an arrest warrant charging Graber with a violation of the state wiretap law. Based on the wiretap charges, the State Police also obtained a search warrant authorizing them to seize all of the Graber family’s computers, along with Graber’s video camera. Several weeks later, the Harford County State’s Attorney obtained a grand jury indictment adding several additional motor vehicle charges, and additional wiretap violations, including one alleging possession of “a device . . . primarily useful for the purpose of surreptitious interception of oral communications,” referring to the widely sold and clearly noticeable GoPro video camera that had been mounted on Graber’s motorcycle helmet.

Graber, a Staff Sergeant in the Maryland Air National Guard, and a computer systems engineer, faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted on all of the charges, along with the loss of his job if he is convicted of any of the wiretap charges, each of which is a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Graber lives in Harford County with his wife and two young children.

This story got quite a bit of attention earlier this year as it was unfolding, and it’s great that it turned out to be one with a positive outcome.

You can watch the entire 3.5 minute recording here.

  • lloyd

    That’s quite scary a guy jumping out of a car and pulling a gun. even tho he ‘says’ state police. that’s still a massive shock to somebody. i wouldn’t be happy. he doesn’t need that gun he needs to be pulling out a badge

  • lloyd

    That’s quite scary a guy jumping out of a car and pulling a gun. even tho he ‘says’ state police. that’s still a massive shock to somebody. i wouldn’t be happy. he doesn’t need that gun he needs to be pulling out a badge

  • Dennis

    He never said he was a police officer until after the gun was out and he walked up. That is dangerous for the officer. One day he is going to do that and someone, thinking they are about to be robbed, is going to pull their gun and shoot first.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree more. I wonder if Anthony has any recourse.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree more. I wonder if Anthony has any recourse.

  • joe

    That’s appalling! Another “shoot first, ask questions later” type cop. Hopefully, he’s going through additional training after this. Sadly, he’ll get paid for it instead of suspended.

  • Chung Dha Lam

    yeah I agree , he did not used proper procedure. He should not had to show his gun at all he only had to flash his badge and say police and should not had taken out his gun and say get off the bike.

    And using the wiretap law man that is just silly, its not even close to that law. He did not hack or tapped into any system to get any info. He was just filming in public.

  • Guest

    Hrm … if it is illegal for him to be “Wiretapping” as he goes along, what about all those cop cars, with cameras, filming all of us without warrants? Should we be doing the same to all of them?

  • Bob Tur

    I’ve been a local and network reporter for 31 years. A was the CBS pilot/reporter that shot the Reginald Denny attack, the very spark of the worst riot in modern US history, was first to find and televised OJ Simpson’s infamous slow speed pursuit, covered three oversea wars, including Herzbollah’s war against Israel. I’ve been unlawfully beaten by the police, had my pilot’s certificate revoked based on perjured testimony from a law enforcement agent (Pilot’s certificate later returned and agent was fired) for investigating his theft of government property, so when the media is treated with more respect by the sworn enemies of democracy, than by the badge carrying men and women sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, you know this country is in serious trouble. The undercover officer’s actions on videotape doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the violation of the motorcyclist’s civil rights under the color of authority, a serious federal charge. Even more troubling is the conspiracy between the State Police and the State’s Attorney to twist a wiretapping law into an affidavit for a search warrant. And if that’s not enough, a judge, whose job is to protect citizen’s from unlawful search and seizures, signed-off on a search warrant! The system failed us at every turn. It’s essential that the motorcyclist and the ACLU prosecute a civil case against the undercover officer and State Police. The case should not be settled. Important is that the discovery process lift the vail on how they got a Judge to sign a search warrant. A civil case reported in the media will help get this officer, his supervisors, and the prosecutor fired. A truly horrible story of governmental abuse. FYI, the U.S. Supreme Court already has several cases on point, there’s no reasonable right, or expectation of privacy in a public place.

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