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.