In a 2007 post, I reported the story of a 20 year old kid who was approached and bullied by a St Louis area police officer who mistakenly thought his gun and badge gave him an edge over the young driver. The driver, Brett Darrow, turned out to carrying even more powerful tools: video recording equipment. Many believed he set the cop up. I do too, but it was an honest sting that would never come off unless a bully cop decided to target Mr. Darrow.
Brett had done nothing wrong. He was polite, but not intimidated. The cop’s threats were arrogant and buffoonish, obviously meant to school Brett as to who was the master and who was the servant, but in the end the life lesson belonged mostly to the officer. Thanks to the miracle of electronics there were the usual tens of thousands of witnesses on YouTube.
Here’s my original post and a link to the story as picked up by CNN:
Almost three years have passed and recently Brett was stopped at a DWI checkpoint. Disappointingly, he did not have his video up and running, but he did manage to audio record until the St Louis County police took his phone away and stopped the recording. Here is the audio:
It is astonishing how stupid it is to forcibly stop a person recording an encounter with police if they are not interfering. Think about it. The only weapon a police officer has in a courtroom is the truth. The recording is the truth.
The stories that defendants tell about police misconduct are usually dismissed as self-serving lies (unless, of course, it turns out to be on video). Clearly, a police officer is inviting a jury to dis-believe him once they see how afraid he is of a recording. A good cop is not afraid, but whether good or bad, he might as well assume that he is going to get recorded on video/audio.
Practical note: Mr Darrow is a very savvy fellow in dealing with police. His recordings are very instructive: He is polite, but never gives out information that is nobody else’s business. He says: “I don’t wish to discuss my personal life with you, Officer” and “I don’t want to answer any more questions. Am I free to go?” You cannot imagine Brett Darrow agreeing to a vehicle search. This guy could be giving classes.