Judge dismisses charge of wiretapping against Fall River man
FALL RIVER, Mass. — A judge on Friday dismissed a charge against a Fall River man accused of videotaping a police officer.
In January, George Thompson started recording a uniformed officer he said was cursing in plain sight.
"I asked him to tone his voice down," Thompson said. "The officer said, 'Why don't you shut the 'F' up and mind your own F'ing business.' So I clicked my iPhone over to camcorder and I was videotaping him."
The officer arrested Thompson saying he was charged with illegal wiretapping.
Many people stepped to Thompson's defense including Cop Block, a watchdog group based out of New Hampshire.
"Being such a clear cut case of merely trying to film in a public space where nobody, especially public officials, have an expectation of privacy was definitely something that I wanted to support," said Ademo Freeman, founder of Cop Block.
"If you got a camera, camera phone and you see something wrong, don't be afraid. It's our right. As long as you're doing it out in the open, it's our right," Thompson said.
Chief Daniel Racine of the Fall River Police Department released a statement Friday saying Thompson was within his rights to pull out a phone and hit record.
However, there's an issue of what happened to the video and how it ended up deleted while the phone was in police custody. Racine said he's hiring a private company to investigate the issue and if a police officer deleted it, they will be fired.
Although the officer in question was punished, Thompson said it wasn't enough.
"They don't want to admit that there's a dirty cop in the Fall River police station," he said. "Whether it was done intentional or whether it was done inadvertently, something is wrong,"
Racine said he's changed the department's policy and now a supervisor has to sign off before citizens are charged with illegal wiretapping.