51 year-old George Thompson from Fall River, Massachusetts was in for the shock of his life after he recorded a police officer who was shouting profanities in a public place.
On January 6 Thompson encountered officer Thomas Barboza who was on a cell phone and swearing profusely at whoever he was talking to across the street from Thompson’s home.
Thompson saw the officer continuing to swear as people walked by so he went over and asked Barboza to refrain from using such foul language.
“Every other word out of his mouth he was dropping the f-bomb,” Thompson said.
Apparently the officer turned and said to Thompson “Why don’t you shut the f up and mind your f’ing business?” according to Thmpson’s recount.
Thompson then decided to take his cell phone out of his pocket and record Barboza during his call, documenting how unprofessional he was being. This prompted Barboza to drop his call and run over to Thompson’s front porch and place him in handcuffs.
“He comes running up the stairs to me, looks right into the camera and he said, ‘You f’ing welfare bum, I’m arresting you,’” Thompson explained.
On top of the wiretapping charge, Thompson received a resisting arrest charge as well according to police documents, however the Fall River Police Chief is defending his officer’s actions in the case and claims that Thompson was secretly recording Barboza.
“I think we all have our basic rights and I think people should not record others surreptitiously or secretively,” Racine said.
Barboza’s report claims that Thompson was secretly recording him, which is something Thompson is strongly denying. Thompson said that he had his arm fully extended as he filmed, however unfortunately for him the footage was mysteriously deleted while the police had his phone in their possession.
Racine danced around the claim that Thompson had remotely deleted the footage even though Thompson never denied that he filmed the officer to begin with. The mysterious circumstances around the footage being deleted has prompted Racine to threaten felony charges against whoever is found responsible for it and saying that anyone on the force who was involved would lose their jobs.
“I wanted the police to see it, I wanted everybody in the city to see it,” Thompson said.
Massachusetts state law says that it is in fact a crime to record anyone without their knowledge, including public officials. However the Supreme Court has upheld the people’s right to film police in a public place since they have no expectation of privacy, just like the rest of us.