A Massachusetts police officer whose involvement in a brutal police beating was video taped has filed criminal charges against the women who video taped the incident and exposed the cover up. The officer is claiming the taping invaded his right to privacy and was a violation of state wiretapping laws.
During the incident Melvin Jones, whose picture is shown below, was left with a fractured skull, partial blindness in one eye, and fractured bones all over his face.
The police initially tried to claim they were justified in their use of force because the man had grabbed for one of the police officers guns and filed criminal charges against the man they beat. The raw video tape below exposed the cover and shows the man in restraints being beat over and over again with a flash light while a woman begs for the police to stop. He was beat by police to the point that witnesses on the video tape say the man looked like he was dead.
The incident has activists up in alarm, according to a report on Massachusetts Live.
Criminally charging videographer who captured alleged police beating of Melvin Jones lll during traffic stop would set dangerous precedent, activists say
Charging the amateur videographer who captured the alleged police beating of Melvin Jones lll during a 2009 traffic stop with illegal wiretapping sets a dangerous precedent, local activists say.
“I think it would be dangerous if this person were to be charged with a crime,” said the Rev. Talbert W. Swan, Springfield branch president of the NAACP. “It would say to the public that we don’t have the right to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions.”
“When you start charging people who have videotaped police wrongfulness, it borders on, in my opinion, an attempt to silence people,” Rep. Benjamin Swan, D-Springfield, said.
From so-called voluntaryists recently celebrating a court victory in Greenfield, to prominent cases in Boston and elsewhere across the nation, the question of whether citizens hold a First Amendment right to video law enforcement personnel doing their jobs has been increasingly in the spotlight.
It comes to a head here in Springfield with the filing of an application for a criminal complaint, made by one of the four police officers disciplined for the incident. Michael Sedergren, claims it was illegal for Tyrisha Greene, who captured the incident on her camera, to videotape him without his consent.
Actual video of White police beating Black driver while stopped for DWB (Driving While Black
Greene recorded a 20-minute video that included Jones, who is black, being struck repeatedly by a white officer with a flashlight while a group of other white officers stood by without intervening. Sedergren was suspended for 45 days in connection with the incident. Patrolman Jeffrey M. Asher was eventually fired for his role in the alleged beating.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the state’s wiretapping law in 2001 in a case involving an Abington traffic stop. Michael J. Hyde was stopped in October 1998 while driving a Porsche with a loud exhaust system and an unlit rear registration plate. The stop lasted around 20 minutes, during which time Hyde recorded audio of his interaction with the officers.
A week later, Hyde — who hadn’t been issued a citation and wasn’t charged with a crime in connection with the stop — went to the Abington police station to file a complaint about his treatment. He offered his audio recording of the encounter as evidence that he hadn’t been confrontational during the stop, as several officers had maintained. He was subsequently charged and convicted on four counts of wiretapping.
Hyde appealed, but the state Supreme Court upheld his conviction. In its decision, the court wrote “We conclude that the Legislature intended G.L. c. 272, § 99, strictly to prohibit all secret recordings by members of the public, including recordings of police officers or other public officials interacting with members of the public, when made without their permission or knowledge.”
In Hyde’s case, the court ruled, the sticking point was that he hadn’t informed the officers he was using a recording device: “The problem here could have been avoided if, at the outset of the traffic stop, the defendant had simply informed the police of his intention to tape record the encounter, or even held the tape recorder in plain sight,” the court wrote.
While Hyde’s case offers an example of an individual recording audio only, many more recent cases involve the defendant recording video.
Source: Massachusetts Live
Massachusetts Live also gives a separate report on the beating of the man.
SPRINGFIELD – The amateur videographer with the colorful vocabulary who memorialized the alleged 2009 police beating of Melvin Jones III during a traffic stop may be charged with illegal wiretapping.
One of four police officers disciplined for the incident on Nov. 27, 2009, Michael Sedergren, has filed an application for a criminal complaint against videographer Tyrisha Greene. Sedergren, who was suspended for 45 days, claims it was illegal for Greene to videotape him without his consent.
Greene made a 20-minute film that included Jones, who is black, being struck repeatedly by a white officer with a flashlight while a group of other white officers stood by without intervening. The video also included an expletive-filled commentary by Greene, 29, who sounded alarmed by the scene that unfolded on Rifle Street.
Police reports were that Jones, who had a criminal record, grabbed one of the officers’ guns as they tried to arrest him. Jones disputed this and a Hampden County grand jury rejected allegations that Jones behaved aggressively toward police. Medical records show bones all over his face were broken and he was partially blinded in one eye.
The officer at the center of the controversy is now-retired patrolman Jeffrey M. Asher, a lightning rod when he was on the police force with a past history of allegations of police brutality
Source: Massachusetts Live
Russia Today provides their report on the incident.
Policeman retaliates against videographer
Melvin Jones III was beaten unconscious by Springfield Police officers during a routine traffic stop. Medical records show that parts of Jones’ skull were shattered due to the beating and has become partially blinded in one eye.
One thing that the officers were unaware of was that Tyrisha Greene, an amateur videographer, was there to capture the whole incident on a video. Now Greene may be charged with illegal wiretapping.
Michael Sedergren, one of the officers disciplined in the matter, has filed a criminal complaint against Greene. Sedergren was suspended for 45 days and alleges Greene illegally video recorded him because she did it without his consent.
According to Section 99 of Massachusetts state law it is illegal to secretly record. It is written in the law that “the general court further finds that the uncontrolled development and unrestricted use of modern electronic surveillance devices pose grave dangers to the privacy of all citizens of the commonwealth. Therefore, the secret use of such devices by private individuals must be prohibited.”
Twelve states mandate the consent of every party in a phone or face to face conversation in order to make any recording legal. The two-party consent laws have been implemented in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. As for video recordings, recording sound makes the footage illegal.
Greene posted a 20-minute video on the Internet showing Jones being beaten repeatedly by an officer with a flashlight while a group of officers stood by and watched.
Police reports state that Jones reached for an officers’ firearm while they attempted to take him into custody. Jones has denied the allegations and a Hampden County grand jury agreed that Jones did not act violently toward police.
Even though Greene bore witness to the beating she has been a hesitant witness, according to court records. Greene has sought legal representation and her lawyer, Daniel D. Kelly, said Sedergren sought the grievance under the wrong pretenses.
“Even a cursory review of the law would show that the Legislature took the time to insert a preamble into the statute showing that it is specifically aimed at organized crime prosecutions,” Kelly told Stephanie Barry of The Republican.
As a result of the incident officers have been fired.
A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 17 in Chicopee District Court.
Source: Russia Today