back to article Man vindicated for videotaping his own traffic stop

Maryland state police were wrong to arrest and charge a man for taping his own traffic stop and posting it on YouTube, a judge ruled earlier this week. Motorcyclist Anthony Graber was charged with illegal wiretapping for recording plainclothes state trooper J.D. Uhler jumping from his unmarked sedan and drawing his gun -- and …

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  1. SuperTim

    nice result

    why draw the gun at all? seems to be a bit premature. Still, try taping your traffic stop in the UK and you will be pulled up on "legitimate" terrorism charges.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      The answer ...

      ... according to the DA, was that when the cop jumped out of the car, he saw the bike move, and considered that to be "threatening behaviour".

      Seriously. The DA statement in on the tubes somewhere!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Uh, in all fairness...

    ...the trooper is a moron. So the guy is driving extremely dangerously. He got pulled over. Everything is good so far. Last time I checked, however, someone driving dangerously does not mean that they are a dangerous person once stopped. There is no call to draw your gun as soon as you exit your unmarked car.

    Grenade, because it's the closest thing to a loaded gun.

  3. Steven 3
    Jobs Horns

    A child in Africa dies when you speed or pull wheelies.

    "In fairness to trooper...."

    Did you watch a different video?

    a) There's no way in hell that cop car saw him pulling the wheelie

    b) There's no way in hell the cop saw him going above 90mph.

    c) Weaving? I never saw any weaving and in fairness to the rider, aside from using his mirrors he turned his head a lot to check blind spots. Maybe with the camera shaking about you thought it was weaving?

    d) Did you see any flashing blue lights? Neither did I. Wouldn't you feel aggrieved if a random guy in an unmarked car cut in front of you, jumped out of his car and pulled a gun on you?

    1. Steven Jones

      How do you know what the cop saw?

      The unmarked cop car that pulled over the biker was not the one in the central reservation so how can you possibly know what the unmarked one that pulled the biker over saw? In any case, there could easily be other unmarked cars in radio contact.

      The biker is a moron. Most likely he'll kill himself pulling some stunt or other. Pulling wheelies topping 100 mph on a public highway is madness.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Alert

      I think

      The author is mistakeing changing lanes and a little undertakeing, because people are sat in the fast lane, for weaving.

      As for the jumping out of the car there is a good chance youd thing "fuck this I'm being robbed" and open the throttal. I hope the officer gets a good kicking from his boss for this because drawing a gun on a speeding biker, and then not making it clear you are police, and then trying to cover your ass. But given that someone tried to fight the case I bet he subject to nothing more than some bitter moaning in the staff room about how dumb the judge was.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        @Steven Jones

        Yup.

        He probably saw him raping a kid.

        Which would explain why he would need to pull a hand gun on a traffic offender.

    3. strangefish
      Unhappy

      a few points

      The plain clothes cop may not have seen any speeding or wheelies but someone else clearly could have as the guy shows both of those illegal and not very bright activities taking place in his video...again, not very bright. Cops tend to have this amazing new invention called a radio in their cars. The unmarked car was probably just the nearest vehicle that was on his side of the road and could respond - especially likely since plain clothes can't usually be bothered with crappy driving offences. Yes he should have led with his badge not his gun but he does clearly identify himself as police within a very short time of exiting the vehicle and the gun is never pointed at the biker. You can't see it clearly on the video but his badge looks like it's clipped on his belt, somewhat obscured by his nice obvious "I am off duty" grey sweat top and he might actually have been under the impression the guy could see it.

      So not much to complain about really as far as the bust is concerned. The part of the story that makes me sad - and that you need to pay attention to - isn't that a cop doing his job with at least some degree of care and attention made a few elementary errors, but rather that all police everywhere are now so damned unpleasant about being recorded just in case they do make simple mistakes and try to use the law wrongly to disrupt the lives of ordinary folk when they think they have been. I think they've become paranoid about "looking foolish" in the belief that it somehow diminishes their authority and that's not good for anyone. Since the cop in the video is in plain clothes, I would even have been prepared to accept it as mitigation for the later siezure of material that perhaps an undercover operation was at risk of compromise if the footage was shown - but that doesn't appear to be what they claimed in court.

      Of course, maybe if cops weren't faced with dolts like this particular cheesehead behaving like infants and recording it so they can broadcast it to all their moron internet "friends", believing that because when they got caught a momentary error on the part of the cop could provide the loophole they need to get away with it, then they might be a little less paranoid and everyone else might not be faced with having cameras snatched from them in the street. So members of the public, please save the outrage for instances when cops actually are caught doing something appalling and cops, please stop thinking you're above scrutiny.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Also

        On that bike, at that speed, its not pulling a wheelie. Its front wheel lift. It happens if your not carefull on the throttal on litter bikes without a slipper clutch or anti wheelie.

        1. Lance 3

          Huh?

          1) Is a litter bike a HD or just a bike that parts fall off of?

          2) A slipper clutch has nothing to do with being able to wheelie.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Coat

            Lance3

            That should read a Litre bike ie bikes of 1000cc and over. Being as he is a 'Mercan' you have to cut the guy some slack as he's not going to be totally as au fait with the Metric system as your good self.

            That said I rode an 1100cc bike for some years without experiencing this problem as I found out how to use a clutch properly. In fact very soon after doing exactly the same thing on a 125cc machine er about on hour one my CBT course. I guess he was referring to slipping the clutch -slipper clutch?

            It's also worth remebering that in the states they have no equivalent system where learners are restricted to 125cc machine etc, For them 600cc is a little kids learner bike. No helmet laws...warm states...no rain.......drool....... I wish I could emigrate.

            I'll get me leather jacket.

            1. Lance 3

              Nope

              I know what a liter bike is, I have several sitting in the garage right now. A few even have slipper clutches. You are wrong in what you think they are, but still much closer than the OP.

        2. Geoff Campbell
          FAIL

          Slipper clutch?

          Dude, you need to read some more books. Slipper clutches have *nothing* to do with preventing the front wheel lifting. Quite the opposite, they prevent the engine locking up the rear wheel when down-shifting too vigorously.

          GJC

      2. Keith T
        Welcome

        The officers in the unmarked car was taking the law into his own hands

        Even American police would never use an unmarked car like that in a high speed chase.

        Too many officers get killed and injured in high speed chases in marked cars, to risk having an unmarked car give chase at such high speeds.

        The police officer was risking third- party human life just as much as the motorcyclist.

        This would particularly be the case on an freeway where there would be ample marked cars available.

        I have little doubt this was a rouge officer taking the law into his own hands.

        Additional proof of that is the ridiculous attempt to suppress civil rights by suppressing the video tape of what happened.

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Rouge Officer

          The video doesn't show any evidence of rouge. A little eye-shadow, possibly, but on balance I think the officer's straight.

      3. morphoyle

        did you even read the article?

        You totally missed the point here, pal. The outrage is due to the man being charged on wiretapping charges for taping an officer in a public place.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I had that problem once - in London

      About 10 years ago I rounded the Target roundabout (W London) in the evening, and I noticed this car keeping up with me. Assuming it was a cop I made damn sure I was below the posted limit, but when I turned off the car remained behind me, and the next turn still.

      Now this was autumn, it was dark and the car was not very visible (you're looking into headlights), so in the end I decided better safe than something dodgy so I gunned it - at which point finally the blue lights came on.

      In all fairness, they did back off when I told them how long I'd been observing them (motivating my sudden rocket launch), and tried to find faults with my bike instead - but missed the only thing they could have caught me on (non-spec exhausts, grin).

      Would I do that again? Yup. As a motorcyclist you're exposed to every moron on the road.

      I think the officer in the video was out of line. He should have signaled first he was the law - they all have a badge, so show it alongside the gun..

      1. TimeMaster T
        Flame

        No gun!

        A traffic stop is not a situation where there is a "perceived threat to the officer". That cop should have kept his gun in its holster and just pulled his badge out.

        Even if the guy on the bike had made a run for it there would be no justification to draw a firearm, the cop was way out of line.

        1. dssf

          Traffic Stop/Exhibition of Speed/Lane Splitting/Noisey Bikes

          Fortunately for the biker there were no simultaneous bank heists with reports of the robber fleeing by motorbike. Sometimes, some people become very unlucky in fitting the description of suspects just called in.

          Had there been a robbery, the cop would be within reason to draw his firearm and take aim. Had the biker attempted to flee, and got shot, it would be lamentable after the fact, but it would probably and most likely be not held against the officer once (or if) all relevant radio and computer calls corroborated the officer's actions.

          But, popping wheelies (by any biker) is not smart. The bike could spill or hit debris or maybe be tripped up by a skateboard skeeting out into the street. Bystanders could be maimed or killed. Motorists burning rubber in the parking lot ("exhibition of speed", IIRC) is a fineable offense, and the vehicle could be seized and impounded and the operator cited and arrested for reckless endangerment.

          Lane-splitting is a peeve of mine. I cannot TELL you nowmany times noisey bikes have roared past me at high speed or between me and another car, transmitting heart-shocking blasts into me and the car. It's nerve-wracking to be surprised or caught off guard by one and not have reaction time to do much at all. Lane splitting (here in the USA) isn't generally illegal, but i find it dangerous to allow at just about any speed. An improperly exiting passenger on either side can suddenly open a door and pitch a biker over and cause serious injury or death to that rider. Serious property damage can occur, too. IF a motorcyclist is going to split lanes, it should be constrained to at-red-light situations, and not at motored speeds -- it should foot-assisted, to minimize damager to cars being contacted by handle bars and side boxes.

    5. Ron Christian

      this could have gone really badly

      In states where concealed carry is legal, the cop's actions could have started a gun battle right there, with the rider legitimately feeling in fear of his life. Very stupid thing to do.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Badge not gun, badge not gun...

    Seems to me the cop needs to practice the phrase "Badge not gun, badge not gun", especially when pulling a, erm, unarmed motorcyclist. I would have shat myself if I were the biker and a dick comes pointing a gun at me. I think my reaction would have been to ride off, although that might end up with a bullet in the back.

    Are cops not trained in the US? Looks like they're just given a gun and told to follow their instincts.

    Mind you, the biker's not blameless....speeding and wheeling ain't so clever, but videoing your offences just provides evidence to the police. (That's police clever enough to spot the cam and use it, not police so stupid they miss a helmet cam, and pull out guns before badges).

    Ah, merkins. Nice to feel so superior so early on a Sunday morning.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      My reaction, when I saw the gun...

      ...I'd pop another wheelie and squash the fuc*ker - who I could reasonably assume was trying to rob me - like a bug.

      1. Keith T

        Doesn't matter, they'd fabricate enough evidence

        for a death penalty.

        But the cyclist could easily have killed the cop by mistake, trying to escape a robber attempt. But as I say, he'd then be looking at the death penalty because you can assume his video would have been destroyed.

    2. mego

      I remember a case a while back..

      The cops burst into the wrong house - the one next door to the one they had a warrant for. Didn't identify themselves. Brandishing weapons. One of them got shot.

      The property owner got treated like a cop killer. Which, to be fair he was - but who in hell would not fire on some group of lunatics bursting into your home at some ungodly hour brandishing weapons?

      It did not turn out as serious as that other case for this motorist; but if someone pulls a gun out on an unarmed, non-confrontational person a good long while before announcing they're a cop; they should be charged as any other random person would. Five seconds sounds like nothing, but it could be an eternity to the person being threatened with their life.

    3. Lance 3

      @AC

      They go through a rigorous process:

      "a women gets pulled over on her way to work . the cop asks the usual question why are you in such a hurry. the women replies that she is late for work and he cuts her off and says I suppose you have a really important job like a doctor where it a matter of life and death that you be there huh. the lady says no actually I am a asshole stretcher. the cop says an asshole stretcher what is that. she says it is where you start with one finger and then work in a second until you got your whole hand in there and then the other hand and you keep stretching until it is about six foot. the cop says well what do you do with a six foot asshole? the lady says give them a gun and badge and have them pull people over that are late for work"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ha ha..

        Very funny.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Megaphone

        Not quite on topic, but interesting I guess.

        Funny story about something that's happening in Ireland right now.

        At the Dunkettle Interchange, when approaching from Dublin side; there is a set of lights. What I've observed is that this can block up fairly heavily; sometimes so much that you could be waiting from a km away or more. Because the lights are on only 10-12 seconds, this can get busy! Usually it takes 5-8 minutes to get past if you're caught up so far back. No need to go into the emergency lane really even if you need the outer lane (if you ever travel this way you'll notice that the outer lane is always empty, it's used apparently by less than 10% of the total traffic that goes through the interchange.

        There are about 7 times in the last few months I have noticed that it takes longer than 5-8 minutes to get past such a blockage; up to 40 minutes in 2 instances.

        The question you should ask is, where are the Garda when this happens? Well they're there alright. Are they reducing traffic flow by directing traffic through the interchange? No. Are they cashing in on the problem to line their pockets with fines from motorists who take the emergency lane to get to the outer lane (which as I said is 90% of the time empty)? Yes indeed.

        Can I add another joke? Usually a few days before the interchange gets Garda interest I've noticed the time that the light is green getting slowly shorter - from 10-12 seconds to clear the lane down to 1-2 seconds (yes I've timed it). Interesting huh?

        1. Andus McCoatover

          Interesting indeed..

          ...but it could be another case of "Children's Programming 101"

          Consider. Lights are on both a timer, and a detector. If the timer's too short, there's not enough traffic to trigger the traffic detector's threshold-of-decision (relying on vehicle motion over the 'diamond-shaped' coils) by the lights. It's simply GOT to fail!!

          IN Irving, TX, they don't seem to use sensors. I could be stuck at an interchange - no-one else around - for what must've been 3 minutes, while the gas-guzzling SUV that Nokia provided (for one person, FFS??) adds to global warming for no reason.

          In Finland, if you drive at night and the light changes ahead of you, but you can see no-one, don't even bother slowing down. They'll be green for you before you get there (sensors usually a lot earlier than, say UK).

  5. Dave 120
    Grenade

    Doesn't EVERYONE have a gun there?

    Considering there are more guns than citizens in the USA I can imagine covering someone with a gun when you're on your own is probably standard until you've got an idea of whether they're going to kick off.

    I'm sure if the judge thought the cop acted questionably at the time the author of the article would have mentioned it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Wait, what...

    So all you need is a car and a gun in the US (and ability to shout "state police") for people to believe you're a cop?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    What possible excuse was there for drawing his gun?

    Seems to me they tried to prosecute him because he exposed the shortcomings of one of their officers.

  8. Skymonrie
    Coat

    I thought...

    It was a scene from the latest Terminator movie.

    I want your bike, your evacuated anus and another wheelie

    1. Hungry Sean

      which is why what the cop did was so stupid

      Suppose you're coming off an off ramp and an average looking beat-up car cuts in front of you, and then an angy looking guy with a gun jumps out and starts running at you. I think the immediate conclusion a lot of people would draw is "holy shit, I'm going to be killed." Given that we do have a lot of people who carry guns specifically for self defense, the cop's aggressive behaviour could easily have gotten himself shot or escalated a routine traffic stop into a firefight for no good reason. Stupid stupid stupid.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Coffee/keyboard

      Gah!

      I had a mouthful of coffee when I read that..

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It gets better

      There was some dickhead cops in my city that thought it was amusing to dress up cops as clowns and bears, give them a radar gun and pull people over for speeding. It appears the reasoning was generating publicity to raise awareness of the local speeding "problem"

      They were not so amused when people went "WTF is that guy in a bear suit gesturing at me for?" and didn't pull over.

      They were even less amused when the judge said "are you people CRAZY?" and awarded damages to everyone they charged with not stopping for an officer.

      Cops around here are more fucktarded than you'd believe. Here's one where they knock on a guy's door in a REALLY high crime area at 3am, DON'T identify themselves, shine a blinding light in his face, and get shot: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/crime/os-knock-and-talk-procedures-20100922,0,7238973.story

      Here's not one but TWO where the idiots put up speed cameras before it was legal:

      http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-08-09/news/os-red-light-camera-lawsuit-20100809_1_attorney-jason-weisser-red-light-cameras-lasercraft

      http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-red-light-cameras-palm-coast-20101002,0,4194213.story

      So you can see why people don't trust the local government...

  9. JaitcH
    Unhappy

    It's not the gun, it's the camera that got him upset ...

    Police, patrolling on their own, frequently draw their weapons when it comes to stopping people, often at the end of a loudspeaker and locking their fingers behind their heads, lying on the ground, etc. in the US of A. The police often handcuff a topped person 'for their own safety' (the civilian's and not the Plod's).

    I took up using a motorcycle in a very, very busy city of 12,000,000 people where the driving is simply atrocious about 5 years ago. When foreigners are involved in collisions they are invariably expected to pay irrespective of guilt, made more difficult as numerous 'witnesses' come forward to testify against the foreigner.

    I fitted an Oregon Scientific waterproof minicam to my helmet, concealed in a moulded fibre glass 'lump' on my helmet; I have never been held responsible for payment of any damages by the police since using it. The traffic police love seeing my accident videos. On a few occasions I have been stopped for bribery collection, by police, for driving in a car lane as opposed to a motorcycle lane and on every occasion when the police became aware of the camera they have simply returned my money and said Go!

    Seems that the Plod, in the West, think they have more rights and privileges than the public and whilst they can video anything with impunity, the Plod get very uptight when the public pulls a 'Rodney King' clip of taping the Plod doing illegal things.

    I hope this motorcyclist does the 'American thing' and sues for wrongful arrest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yup

      Only in the land of the free. But then, UK is being worse lately - throwing kids down stairs, stealing camera equipment from legitimate photographers, etc.

    2. David Evans

      @JaitcH

      The arrest was hardly "wrongful" was it? (Although some of the Brits on here should remember undertaking is OK in the US, however the wheelie was definitely out of order). The cop behaved like a testosterone-fuelled dickhead (but that seems to be in the job description for coppers everywhere), but he wasn't wrong to stop him. The subsequent seizure is the real story and I'm glad to see the judge giving the cops a good kicking about it. We could do with some judges like that over this side of the pond.

      1. The BigYin

        Undertaking...

        ...is not an offence in the UK either. Dangerous driving is and an office *may* decide that undertaking is dangerous.

        Anyway...

        The biker was a moron and deserves to lose their license (I say this as a fellow biker; although no doubt the usual suspects [e.g MCN] will use this as more "anti-motorcyclist" fodder). We need retards like that on the road like we need DVD-truckers.

        The cop was totally unprofessional and deserves serious censure for his attitude and subsequent treatment of the biker. Good to see the judge sorting things out.

        If any other bikers are reading this - wheelies are cool. So are stoppies/endos, standing on the seat etc. Really cool. I like a good stunt show, me. On a closed track. With barrier. And medical crew.

        Save if for the appropriate place.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Undertaking...

          ...is classed as 'driving without due care and attention', which is an offence. It is only lawful to overtake in the two overtaking lanes provided.

          It is, however, also classed as driving without due care and attention if you fail to move as far to the left as possible after overtaking. This should be treated more severely by the police in the UK as it is 'lane-hoggers' (either middle lane or outside lane) who create most of the traffic problems on our motorways and also drive other people into dangerous manoeuvres such as undertaking.

  10. ZenCoder
    FAIL

    The raid on his house was BS ..

    He did have a momentary lapse in judgment he forgot to immediately identify himself. As far as drawing his gun .. because he wasn't in uniform his draw would be slow and clumsy if needed his gun, so he chose to have his weapon in hand and safely pointed at the ground.

    The problem is when they found him guilty of contempt of cop and decided to abuse their authority, raid his house, seize is property. All to send the message don't f**k with us were are above the law.

    1. TimeMaster T
      Flame

      Slow and clumsy ...?

      I can tell you from experience that pulling a gun from a shoulder holster puts the gun on target faster than pulling from the standard issue hip holster.

      Of course I wonder why the cop was pulling a gun for a traffic stop in the first place?

      And lets not forget that why we are hearing about this is not because the biker was speeding, or even because the cop pulled his gun, it is because the DA tried to charge the biker with a felony for making the video of the cop acting like a Nazi public. If the biker had not posted the clip for all to see he would not have been charged with anything more than speeding.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Not even that much dangerous driving

    Most of the other vehicles were causing more danger to everyone than this motorcyclist. He is on a freeway, so there are no pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians etc. to look for.

    By far and away the greatest danger was to himself. He took this into account - yes he undertook, yes he sped - but he was actually relatively restrained compared with many people I've seen on bikes and in cars in towns.

    Even unmarked cars in the UK have blue lights so you know you're being pulled over - that or a badge being flashed out of the window. The first thing this guy does is brandish a weapon and yell "get off the motorcycle", twice - I'd be assuming that there was a robbery in progress!

    If he'd gone for the police badge with the other hand then there'd have been a lot less of an issue for the motorcyclist to deal with.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fight or flight time

    Eeek watching that video, I'm with Andus's earlier comment, use the bike as a weapon. There is nothing to sugest the fella with a gun is a copper, and given an immediate threat to life situation like that, its fight or flight time boys and girls, fleeing's out of the question (he has a gun), so whats left?

    I know it sounds stupid, but i'm sure plenty of us have been in similar situations, or seen it happen, when people get angry (most of the time, because they've done something stupid like pulling out in front of you, and getting miffed when you almost hit them) and decide to get out of their car, watching that video the first thought in my head was "sh!t, mr road rage has a gun"

    Apart from the wheelie, I can't really see that the bike rider has done anything really wrong (is speeding in a straightline in good conditions really such a crime?), so yes I think an armed reception is certainly over the top.

    I know the real story is his arrest for filming the copper, but just seeing the guy climing out of the car almost in slow mo, and drawing his gun, did send a shiver down my spine.

  13. Mr Young
    Pint

    Nice try!

    But this link had me ROFL :-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Uy1FnUG3qg

  14. Keith T

    The cop should have been charged with something

    The cop should have been charged with something, abuse of office, illegal use of a weapon, speeding (I didn't see a flashing light).

    That the justice system lets justice system insiders escape without punishment is killing our society.

    1. TimeMaster T
      Megaphone

      slight corection

      Its called the "Legal system" , not "justice system". At least by all the lawyers and cops I've known over the years.

      Though they may have gotten more hypocritical in recent time. Its been awhile since I moved in those circles.

  15. cor
    Headmaster

    Just a point about the 'weaving' thing..

    I seem to remember (correct me if I'm wrong) that on a 'freeway' in the US, overtaking is allowed on any lane. So no 'undertaking' involved.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Depends on state

      Each state makes their own specific rules. Some allow passing on the right while others don't. Likewise some states define the left lanes as passing lanes and the right lanes as travel lanes so they can ticket you for either traveling in a passing lane, this is worded by some states as an ordinance to keep right unless actively passing. Mostly these are used to generate revenue when the roads are fairly empty as it basically gives a twofer when a car does pass on the right they both get tickets.

  16. Robert Hill

    Hmm, is it just me?

    Am I the ONLY person that saw the entirely obvious and well-badged State Police patrol car pull in right behind the motorcycle? It was a Crown Vic, pretty easy to spot, with a nice big badge on it...and as SOON as the door of the Crown Vic opens, the first cop puts his gun away. Once, basically, he knew that someone had his back...you will of course notice that he never RAISES the gun and levels it at the cyclist, he just has it out and at the ready.

    The other thing to consider - if the cop WAS off-duty when he made the stop, then it is very possible that he wasn't wearing a bulletproof vest. Now, in the US, where guns are like water, EVERY cop on duty wears a vest - and they save an awful lot of lives. But if the off-duty cop wasn't wearing one, reaching for his gun as he exited was probably a reflex action caused by having no vest - in short, if you have no defense then at least have your offense ready.

    Cops get shot in traffic stops very frequently in the States...sometimes for an obvious reason (i.e., carrying drugs, or outstanding warrants for arrest), sometimes because the heavily armed and tanked on steroids driver just doesn't think the law applies to him. It's very, very easy to criticize from here in the UK, but UK police don't have to deal with the sea of licensed and unlicensed handguns that permeate the States - and we as UK citizens just don't have that much experience with it. Not saying it doesn't HAPPEN, but it's at least an order of magnitude less frequent.

    I think the wiretapping charges were foolish, but I'm just not convinced the cop did anything all that wrong, or at least nothing that I myself might not do in that situation, lacking a vest and arresting an unpredictable, hyped-up motorcyclist...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      There were two

      wrongs comitted by the police. The first was when the stop was made, the officer must FIRST identify himself/herself as a police officer. The second wrong was carried out when the police misused the power bestowed upoin them by the public they serve, in an attempt to cover their arses. The motorcyclist paid the fine, yet the law-enforcement entity got upset and mis-applied the very law they are sworn to uphold in order to attack a citizen and exact revenge for what they perceived as a wrong done against them. What they did is something I would expect in a third-world country rife with corruption, not a professional police force sworn to protect the public, and certainly not in the United States of America, supposedley the "Land of the free".

    2. Lance 3
      FAIL

      Second officer

      The second officer could have handled the entire thing and the first officer should have done nothing. The motorcyclist came to a stop, just like the cars in front of him. The second officer arrives when they are all still stopped. There was no need for the first officer to do anything at all.

      The only person all hyped up; was the first officer.

      Guns are not like water here.

      Your post is full of fail.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    let's be fair

    In blighty you can get your head blown off by cops with no warning for the crime of looking slightly dusky on the London underground. And it's considered a lawful killing if they invoke the magic 'T' word, so the cops face no action at all and the police commander presiding over the debacle gets 'punished' with a promotion.

    It's about time the UK cops got some training from these rather restrained softly, softly US cops.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    As a former US resident...

    The police pull a gun out when they stop you for speeding as they have to worry that you may have a gun and don't want to be stopped by the police. Having been stopped south of Seattle doing 73 mph in a 60 mph zone, I've experienced this. I was doing 13mph above the limit and told off. This motorbiker was probably doing 2X the limit at one point, which means way faster than anyone else will expect. I'm surprised he still has his license.

    Still, glad to see that he's allowed to video the police. Me, I wouldn't put the evidence of my speeding up online.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    America

    Richest third-world nation on the planet

  20. Joe Montana
    WTF?

    First thoughts

    This guy dressed in normal clothes, came out of a normal looking car holding a gun and demanding the rider get off his bike. Only after making this demand several times did he claim to be state police and at no time did he show a badge...

    Had i been that biker, i would have assumed i was being robbed or the victim of a road rage attack.

  21. HereIAmJH
    FAIL

    Cop was wrong

    The wiretapping case was thrown out, as it should be. Which is what the article is about.

    What infuriates most about this story are the actions of the out-of-uniform, off-duty in an unmarked (likely personal) vehicle that pulled his weapon for no reason. I know plenty of current and former police officers, and their response hasn't been supportive of this guys actions.

    As someone else pointed out, by the time the officer had exited his car there was already a marked patrol car on the scene. There was no point in him being involved. If he witnessed a crime he should have called it in and then waited for the officers authorized to make the stop to do their job. He would then be required to testify in court to the offense.

    From there he failed to identify himself. He made the assumption that both the citizen and the patrolman that was in his line of fire would recognize him as an officer, and there was no reason for him to think that. While the motorcyclist possibly broke several traffic laws, NONE them justified deadly force. This video is a tutorial on how NOT to do a traffic stop.

    As for those of you with your ignorant bias towards Americans. Not everyone owns a gun. Most that do own guns do not carry them. They are purchased for hunting, sport (target shooting), and home protection. Those that do have the option to carry don't regularly do so because guns are heavy, awkward, and require restraints on your activities. No carrying in banks, gov't buildings, or ANY privately owned semi-public space where prohibited by the owner. (work place, retail store, etc) If you don't look like a paper target and aren't breaking into my house, you aren't likely to ever even see my 9mm.

    Of course there are those that carry guns illegally, but that isn't unique to America.

    As to traffic officers getting shot all the time, that's a statistic presented by people who have no clue about the facts. Rarely do officer pull their weapon on a traffic stop. Other than on TV, I have never seen it happen.

    Also, traffic officers are not afraid of cameras. Nearly every patrol car in America has a dash cam now. They are more likely to be used to back up an officer's testimony than used against them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Grenade

      As for those of you with your ignorant bias towards Americans. Not everyone owns a gun

      Who said that sunshine? I believe the statement was "more guns than citizens", and yes it's a valid statistic, perhaps overstated but nonetheless. Christ, the guy living next door to my dad has about 16 different guns, ranging from too big to fire from one hand to several that will easily hide in your clothing.

      >>Also, traffic officers are not afraid of cameras. <<

      Uh, say what? Most officers are afraid of cameras, both dirty and clean - the clean because they may do something stupid in a panic, like the guy here; and the dirty because.. well, if you need to know THAT you're in more trouble than a bad arrest will counter.

      The point is that police officers will use that recording against you with impunity, even if it shows you at your worst. But they do not accept that average q. citizen will do the same.

  22. Lance 3

    Irony

    The irony that they complain about wiretapping but yet almost every police car (marked or unmarked) usually has a video camera that is activated during pursuits and stops. So shouldn't the DA go after the police for its use? They can't have it both ways.

    I've thought about mounting cameras on my bikes just for when a cop wants to lie. Let them lie, contest it in court where you show the evidence and make sure their credibility is shot and that their boss, the city and more importantly the prosecutor/DA know full well that they lied under oath and can never give testimony in court. That is how to get a bad cop off the force.

  23. Asgard
    WTF?

    Felony wiretapping charges?!

    I find it very interesting how often we see this repeating pattern of police behaviour of them utterly hating being filmed and then doing all they can to find any way they can to punish anyone who tries to film them for the crime as they see it of filming them. This seems to be a repeating pattern around the world of people in police authority. They very evidently fear people seeing the truth. The question then is why do they fear people seeing exactly what they are doing? What are they so self concious about? ... Do they really fear so often being seen to be behaving outside of the laws that they themselves must also follow.

    Knowledge is power so why do they fear more people knowing exactly how they are behaving, unless that knowledge gives power against them.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    BAAAAAD cop

    Seriously folks, that cop needs to find another line of work. Pull a gun and take that long to ID yourself? That's a good way to get killed and take others with you. No way a cop can actually/really charge someone, so there's a conspiracy to charge the victim to cover up the mistake. Not good. Somebody needs to go down hard over this one.

    I have long thought that we need a new crime: assault with the legal system. If convicted, the sentence is the sum of max jeopardy of all of one's intended victims plus any applicable conspiracy charges and other crimes. Does the name Mike Nifong mean anything to you?

    BTW, the guy on the bike is a jerk. It's one thing to drive like that on an empty road, but in traffic, there's no excuse.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      It's one thing to drive like that on an empty road, but in traffic, there's no excuse.

      Darwin'll sort that out.

      Basically, on a motorbike in traffic, you're an egg on two wheels. Fuc*k it up and (most times) only you and the duck-egg possibly sitting behind you will get it.

      If you're lucky, you both die. If you're unlucky, the 20-year-old 'duck-egg' behind you gets paralysed for life. Exactly what happened to a late friend of mine.

      I sometimes think of the 16 friends I've lost to motorbikes over the years, mainly thanks to a combination of the 1970's Japanese invasion of Suzuki 250cc "Ram-Air" highly-tuned bikes, lack of real training*, testosterone and alcohol.

      I could weep when I think of the great friends with serious potential I lost 35 years ago. All the funerals, just in a little village called 'Harbury', Warwickshire. In less than a year.

      *Lack of real training - When I took my motorcycle test in Leamington Spa in 1973, I used a Honda-70. Passed, the simplest of tests. No previous theory or schooling required. Was basically immediately handed a licence to go and buy the most powerful machine then out, to potentially kill myself on it the same day.

      1. Steven Jones

        Motorcycling fatalities

        I passed my motorcycle test about the same time (1972 I think), on an even then, very old Lambretta LI150. Looking back at those years, before even compulsory crash helmets, I'm amazed that all my schoolmates survived. Onto University in London, then nobody could much afford personal transport apart from the twerp who smashed his Triumph Bonneville whilst demonstrating doing wheelies outside the hall of residence in South Kensington.

        I too came across the later casualties, and can only imagine what regret some may have. it's especially tragic when this often happens in the young.

        However, judging be the number of motorcyclists on the M4 on my commute to work who pass between lines of cars travelling at 70mph with inches to spare on each side, the tolerance (or even seeking out) of risk amongst many of the motorcycling fraternity is different to the aveerage person in their family hatchback. These sort of stories always bring out the Libertarians, but the statistics are stark. Per mile travelled, on average, a motorcyclist is over 30 times more likely to be killed than somebody in a car. Something like that adverse ratio is roughly reflected across the entire Western world.

        More inherently more difficult to see, more unstable, much fast, much more vulnerable and often ridden by thrill seekers, the result is pretty well inevitable, with (in 2009) about one in 5 road deaths being of motorcyclists.

        1. Alex King
          Stop

          With you on this...

          Right up to the last paragraph. I've got a particular issue with the 'ridden by thrill seekers' and 'result is pretty well inevitable' phrases.

          I agree there is a thrill seeker element but, in my experience, there are far more bikers who simply use their bikes as a sensible means of transport. The guy in this video is clearly in the thrill seeker category, and I (along with most bikers) would be happy to be relieved of the burden of having to live him and others like him down whenever we're in public.

          I know a great many bikers who have reached a ripe old age, so it's by no means 'inevitable' that riding a bike is like being on death row, and terming it as such is just more encouragement to that thrill-seeking element who actually like the dangerous image.

          Sadly, I think this sort of thing will continue as long as bike manufacturers keep promoting bikes as expensive toys rather than as the sensible, environmentally friendly, congestion reducing means of transport that they actually are.

          Oh yeah, agree with the concensus too - Silly cop, stupid DA, good judge.

          1. Steven Jones

            Sports bikes, commuters, toureres etc.

            The comment about is inevitable is on the overall pattern, not any individual rider. Clearly there is a huge difference between different types of motorcyclists and I know a few who have been on two wheels and are not in their 50s. However, they tend to be the types who do a bit of touring or commuting as a cost effective and convenient way of travelling. They are still in more danger than somebody in a tin box (it's inherent in being more difficult to see and more vulnerable), but they are clearly not the ones at most risk.

            That's very different in my experience to many of lovers of sports bikes. I'm not sure why anybody wants a 125bhp bike unless it's for thrills. There was a study in the US one different categories of bikes, and sports models were much more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than tourers or commuter bikes.

            1. Andus McCoatover

              Gotta agree with the sentiment...

              Here in Finland, the 'biking season' is naturally short. 4 months at a guess.

              So, what I see is a concentration of what, for example Britain sees.

              What we see is twerps on mopeds scaring the bejeezus out of elderly folk, (myself and the missus included) but people with bigger machines are generally a) More affluent - to afford a bigger machine, and b) more experienced (else they' be already dead)

              El Reg -Forget the Flying Car. I want a flying Zimmer Frame...Then I can drop my filled adult diaper on them b*astards...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Hoooray! the justice system worked!

    For once we get a story that the justice system actually did what it was supposed to - it self-corrected a mistake made by the public employees.

    Rather than beating the dead horses of whether the motorcyclist or the cop Did Things Wrong, people should be cheering the Maryland state judge for, in no uncertain terms, putting things.

    1. Penguin herder
      Big Brother

      True, but

      "Rather than beating the dead horses of whether the motorcyclist or the cop Did Things Wrong, people should be cheering the Maryland state judge for, in no uncertain terms, putting things."

      Ok, good point, BUT the cop acted with a bad mix of arrogance and cowardice and at a minimum needs to be a short lease, and he probably should be up on charges. The lawyer(s) who brought the wiretapping charges need to be in serious trouble. People with the police powers MUST be held to high standards or they will end up eating us alive, one abuse at a time.

  26. Neil Hoskins
    Grenade

    Frankly...

    ... I wouldn't have bothered stopping him: I'd have just shot him from the driver's seat. Dozy twat.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    i am not surprised he was stopped.

    He is riding on the wrong side of the road.

    1. Red Bren
      Coat

      To be fair

      They all are!

  28. bugalugs
    Pint

    " @Mr Young " may be an inadequate title but it will have to do this time

    Thanks for the link, but we do those sorts of things most Sundays here and our pillions join in the fun !

    Seriously folks, the biker *was* doing quite silly speeds and certainly invited constabulary attention. The gun-toting plain-clothesman would have been liable to police disciplinary proceedings ( but probably not prosecution ) in this part of the world - I wonder whether amateur recordings like this would be admissible in such a case ?

    Anyway, kudos to hizonner for a common-sense ruling.

    Right, time to warm up the 850 and be off to get bug-splattered !

    You have a beer, I'm driving...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Wiretapping?

    Do Americans hire professional wiretappers to cover their weddings? Or have irritating friends that insist on showing them their holiday wiretaps?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Precedent.

      "...I wonder whether amateur recordings like this would be admissible in such a case ?...".

      I am aware of at least a couple of cases where convictions were secured on the strength of Youtube vids posted by the Perp. (UK) But still, I think you are right to wonder.

  30. Chris Green
    Happy

    Stopped biker threatening?

    Last time I tried to pull my weapon out in a hurry, while wearing bike gloves and leathers, I came close to a senior incident (Side of road, bushes, caught short, etc.).

  31. Rogerborg

    As a biker myself

    I'd rather than the cop has just drifted in front of him and let Darwin have a say.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Well, MINE didn't pull a gun on me...

    But apart from that, I got a similar reaction from the fuzz a little while ago - and I wasn't even on a bike. I was a tourist to London, taking photos outside the British Museum...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Either way...

    ...the motorcyclist is one massive dickhead.

    Filming yourself going at stupid speeds and pulling wheelies on a public highway - oh yeah, so clever. Wonder how clever he would feel if he caused an accident that killed someone?

    What a twat.

    Take your bike to a frikkin' track day or something.

  34. Bugs R Us

    Not an offence in the UK

    ...to record an encounter with law enforcement as long as you declare up front that the encounter is being recorded. It is not illegal to use video recording equipment while in control of vehicle as long as you can demonstrate you are still fully in control of the vehicle.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Oh dear

    "When we exercise that power in a public forum, we should not expect our activity to be shielded from public scrutiny.”

    Oh Jesus, I need a lie down, just....too..,much...common...sense...from...a...public...servant....

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's wrong?

    Looks like a normal drive on the m25 to me.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Few bikers on here

    So I'm sure you will bear me out...

    It takes me a good 2 or 3 minutes to undo velco, zips and gloves etc to get a friggin cigarette out..

    Not much chance of sneakily pulling a gun

    I don't mind admitting I'd have absolutely crapped myself if that bloke had been waving that gun around 'at' me

  38. Eden
    WTF?

    I also

    Watched the video even after reading the whole article and still had that OMFG i'm being robbed feeling.

    But any thought of "fleeing" was quickly out as I would be an easy target and hitting a pedestrian with a small bike like that wouldn't have gotten him away so easily.

    On my K1200 LT I would give it a damn good try though!

    Also may I say as a biker there was nothing wrong with the guys riding!, yes the wheelie on a public road is silly but he only sped/wheelied between empty spots of traffic and was a risk to no-one but himself for that very short moment of silly fun.

    No reason at all to pull a gun on someone and shout several times to get off the bike BEFORE you remember to say oh yeah I'm a cop, not that this will make you feel any better.

    As for the filming, the guy didn't go out to film the cop, so the offence really seems to be posting it up, but then helmet cams are not exactly inconspicous!

    I got one purely for the number of times some idiots hit me or caused me to take emergency evasion then f**ed off so I had something to take to the police and my insurance company, nautrally no silly hijinks recorded.

    And it would be fairly easy to rig a setup to stream the recording to a secure store online rather than a solid state media locally with only minimal sotrage for spooling during low/no signal periods.

  39. Tom 13

    Never get a good look at the street signs, so I can't positively identify the road

    he was on, but I'm guessing that would be I70 between Frederick and Baltimore. Depending on the stretch of highway the speed limit might be 65, which makes 69 nowhere near twice the speed limit. Oh, and that would be light to moderate traffic on I70. Same would go for I95 or I270 which are the other major MD highways (and tend to be more urban hence my belief the road is I70).

    Pulling the wheelie was stupid. So was not showing a badge or turning on the red and blue lights. Double stupid on raiding the house for wiretapping. But as a long time resident of the People's Republic of Maryland, none of these actions surprise me. And with revenue's down O'Malley is trying to squeeze every cent out of anybody he can shake down for whatever reason.

    The only one showing some sense in this whole mess is the judge. Which, this being the People's Republic of Maryland, does surprise me. Kudos to him from a transplanted gun-loving redneck.

  40. No, I will not fix your computer
    FAIL

    As a biker....

    1. When I do something stupid either for fun or without thinking, I don't want any evidence, that said for every ghost rider who films himself there's some numpty who drops off the back of a clutch wheely, all these end up on youtube, there's skillful clowns, clownful skills and just clowns.

    2. If he mushes himself it's likely (but not definite) he won't take anybody else with him, so it's stupid in the same way as nose studs, smoking dope and pink hair is stupid (why not if you not affecting anyone else, it's not for everybody but hey!) - note, most fatal bike crashes are caused by "other driver", so car drivers take note, by all means call bikers stupid for popping the odd wheely or misplacing the speed limit, but also remember to look both ways when you pull out, use your mirrors when changing lanes and maybe indicate a bit more, your stupidity may not be as in your face, but it does prove to be more fatal.

    3. Assuming that cop #1 was responsible for the charge he went from being over cautious possibly to the point of inappropriate intimidation to a twat (probably out of embarassment), everyone of my engagements with the boys in blue has been respectful and honest in both directions (UK).

  41. Trust Me
    Thumb Up

    A Most Wonderful Thing

    Some background. In Maryland, it is against the law to record Audio, not Video, without the conset of all who are recorded. So the basis of this prosecution was the fact that the Maryland State Police Trooper had not given his consent to being recorded and published on the internet. Following the local news reporting, it is not clear if the Harford County District Attorney decided to pursue this on his own or if the Maryland State Police were pissed and raised a stink. Regardless, this state judge's decision is amazing and gratifying. Most states in the US allow secret video and audio recording of most anybody, but Maryland is different. This issue came up during the Clinton Impeachment because Linda Tripp was a Maryland resident when she recorded Monica Lewinsky's telephone calls about servicing Bill Clinton's penis.

    This Is A Most Wonderful Thing, so now in Maryland, if its public, there is no expection of privacy. Unless you are Inciting, Resisting Arrest, or Failing To Obey The Lawful Commands of a Peace Officer. So, film the police in action all you want, just let your lawyers sort it out in the end.

    Side Note: After viewing the video of this incident, the on duty and off duty Maryland State Troopers did what they were supposed to do: supress and dominate the sitution. Then, offer peaceful / reasonable solutions or arrest everyone in sight. This Motorcyclist was pulled over on a ramp from Northbound I-95. When he stopped, he had a Maryland State Police Cruiser behind him on the ramp with flashing lights, a screaming siren and a P.A. or loudspeaker, telling him hands up, don't move.

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Thumb Up

      Maryland

      Actually it's only illegal if it's "interception", the camera was in plain view with the intention to record himself, and his intention was not to record the police, he only recorded dialogue he was involved with (i.e. no interception) he was also aquitted of possessing a "device primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of oral communications". Incidentially, "public" doesn't really mean anything, so if you delberately leave a microphone in a public place you *can* be arrested for "interception" under Maryland law if the purpose is to hear a conversation that you otherwise would not be able to overhear (and it's irrelevant if you record it or not, it's the interception which is illegal). There's a few incorrect assumptions about Maryland law and it's not as mental as people think.

      Interestingly enough, I'm assuming that the off duty cop was driving his own, personal car, that tint on the windows is definitely more than 35% which is illegal in Maryland.

      Having watched the video now (you tube is blocked at work), I think the biker wasn't actually driving stupidly, if you see how his head nods about he is checking every single manouver, not just mirrors but distance and some shouldering too, slowing down for traffic and accelerating cleanly, nothwithstanding it wouldn't take much for another road user to be breaking the rules or not paying attention to end up with a big mess and a long red streak of biker all over the road. Have a look on youtube for ghost rider and you'll see some scary shit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Another thought..

        Did the cop only identify himself after he realized he was being recorded??

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