Police Harassing Carlos Miller Again

Carlos Miller, the Miami photojournalist who has done so much to fight for the right to record the police to prevent misconduct, is in unjustified legal trouble again. This time it’s the Boston police department charging him with a bunch of bullshit charges over things he wrote on his website. Here’s how it began:

It started with a very clear-cut case of police intimidation against a man trying to video record Boston police conducting an investigation in broad daylight last August, in which an overbearing detective pushed and shoved the videographer away from the scene, threatening to arrest him on felony battery on a police officer when the video shows he was the one committing battery on the videographer.

I was one of the first sites to post the video, which ended up going viral, setting the stage for what would become an intense campaign of police retaliation against Photography is Not a Crime.

The day after I posted the video, PINAC crew member Taylor Hardy, a 25-year-old journalism student from Miami, called a Boston police public information officer for comment, recording the conversation on his iPad.

Boston police spokeswoman Angelene Richardson said she had not seen the video of the overbearing detective, so the conversation was useless to me, and I didn’t bother posting it on PINAC, even though Hardy had posted a portion of their conversation on his Youtube channel.

And that led to Richardson discovering the video and filing a complaint against Hardy for illegal wiretapping, claiming he had never informed her he was recording, a felony charge that can land him in prison for five years.

Yes, they’re charging a journalist with a felony for recording a conversation with a public information officer (which, by the way, they should be strongly in favor of him doing so their statements are portrayed accurately). Seriously. So Carlos wrote about those ridiculous charges on his blog and encouraged people to call this PIO and put some public pressure on them to drop those clearly trumped-up charges against the journalist, and he included her office number and email address, both of which are available on the police department website. And then:

After all, as a media spokeswoman, she should understand that all conversations with the media, unless other stated, are on the record. In fact, she should insist reporters record her comments to ensure accuracy.

That led to numerous PINAC readers calling Richardson, which obviously is something that unsettles this public information officer, suggesting that perhaps she is in the wrong line of work.

And that led to Detective Moore filing a criminal complaint against me for witness intimidation, which I received Friday and is posted below, claiming that I caused Richardson all kinds of pain and grief because I posted her publicly available work contact info on my blog.

He also threatened to charge any readers who called her, making me think that perhaps the Boston Police Department is recording all incoming calls because how else would they gather the evidence to charge my readers for witness intimidation?

So let me get this straight. They’re charging him with felony witness intimidation for encouraging the public to contact a public information officer to protest police intimidation of a journalist over his “crime” of reporting to the public what was said by a public information officer. It’s hard to imagine a more clear-cut case of police intimidation of journalists. Every single person involved should be fired. Immediately.

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  • Shouldn’t there by ab out a million lawyers jumping on this?

  • Sorry, fingers not working correctly today.

  • Trebuchet

    Saw this on Popehat. Thanks for the reminder to go over there and read all the links.

    Link to Popehat article

  • Ed – Massachusetts is an all-party consent state. All parties must be informed that the conversation is being recorded before it can be recorded. Hardy did break the law.

  • I bet Carlos has a recording device hidden on him. Boston PD better anally probe him. Just to be safe (and 100% definitely not to torture and humiliate him!!!1111)

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … how else would they gather the evidence …

    By asking their buddies at NSA to pass along all the metadata for calls to their number(s) during that period.

    C’mon, get up to speed with modern times!

  • eric

    Kevin @4: the Mass law prevents secret recordings. Like hiding a camera in your coat while you take pictures of a cop doing something. Arguably, when a journalist calls a PI officer for comment on an event, there is nothing secret about the fact that the journalist is likely recording the call.

    Secondly, the first circuit has held that the Mass law cannot apply to (i.e. is unconstitutional when appplied to) recording police activities in public. Again, a police spokeswoman answering a citizens’ questions about a police position on a case is arguably a “public” event. For it not to be public, she would have to argue that telling Hardy she had no comment on the case was information the police didn’t want or expect to be made public. Which is patently ridiculous; telling a journalist that the police have no comment on an ongoing case is exactly the sort of communication which Richardson, Hardy,and anyone else would expect to be a public communication.

    My info on the law is from here.

  • Ed – Massachusetts is an all-party consent state. All parties must be informed that the conversation is being recorded before it can be recorded. Hardy did break the law.

    If that’s still applicable to the public actions of police officers, I’d say that makes for an unjust law. Being unable to record police misconduct would put witnesses at an unfair disadvantage since cops tend to win when it comes down to testimony. It’s hard enough when recording is an option.

  • chilidog99

    The articleakes it sound like the police officers are filing charges. Wouldn’t that be the responsibility of the district attorney’s office?

  • whheydt

    The recording issue is a little more complex than stated here. According to the Popehat article, Hardy states that he did tell Richardson that he was recording call. He also said that the recording system wasn’t working at first, so he doesn’t have a recording of him telling her that. Richardson denies that he told her, so we have a classic he said/she said issue here.

    Second…what is the law when someone in a state that doesn’t require consent of both parties records a call to someone who is in such a state? Whose law governs the call?

  • caseloweraz

    My first visit to Popehat. I like the names of authors: Ken White, Patrick Non-White, etc.