Why You Should Film Police Even if You’re Breaking the “Law”

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Good stuff:

It was a simple bust, as Police Officer Steven Lupo explained.

It looked like an open-and-shut case. A cop pulls over a car, walks up to the driver’s door, and sees a plastic baggy of marijuana. He brings in a drug-sniffing dog to prove probable cause for a search, gets a warrant, and finds a kilo of weed in the trunk.

Text book all the way. The request for a medal for excellence almost writes itself. On cross-examination, Michael Diamondstein played the “are you sure” game, locking Lupo into his testimony. Close your eyes and envision the smug cop on the stand, calmly testify with that half-smile on his face, believing that he, Police Officer Lupo, was king of the courtroom.

In court, Diamondstein asked Lupo to confirm that account, according to a transcript of the hearing.

“Before you got to Mr. Farsi, did you open the rear driver’s side passenger door and take that individual out and pat him down?”

“No,” Lupo said.

Then Diamondstein asked, “I just want to make sure that we are clear that you certainly didn’t just open the door prior to any conversation, take him out, and pat him down. That definitely didn’t happen?” Diamondstein said.

“Correct,” Lupo replied.

Change the names and this could be the transcript from a thousand other trials. Except what came next doesn’t happen often.

Then defense attorney Michael Diamondstein produced the video.

Turned out reality was different.

The video taken from nearby surveillance cameras contradicted key facts in Lupo’s report and sworn testimony. Most crucially, Lupo and an unidentified supervisor are seen rummaging through the trunk hours before a warrant was issued.

Straight down the line, Lupo lied, secure in the mistaken belief that he could plop his donut encrusted butt on the witness chair and tell a completely fabricated story about how he’s just about the dandiest cop ever, just doing his job, applying the Constitution and keeping us safe from the bad guys. Except he was a liar, and Diamondstein had the video to prove it.

Judge Lydia Y. Kirkland tossed the case after the video was played. Had no video been played, she would have been sentencing the defendant instead.

“I can just tell you from my experience,” said veteran defense attorney Diamondstein, “in the majority of cases, while the clients may not deny having narcotics, in the vast majority of cases the circumstances surrounding the arrest did not happen as it was described in the paperwork or in court.”

Years ago, New York Daily News columnist Murray Kempton coined the phrase, “there they go again, framing the guilty.” It’s one I repeat often, as its point reflects the most problematic part of law enforcement and law. Despite the fact that Lupo turns out to be a liar, there will be a great many people who think to themselves, “so what?” The guy was a drug dealer, and who cares that a cop stopped a drug dealer, seized the drugs and then said what he had to say to lock the scum away.

The ends justify the means, especially when there’s an undercurrent that if it wasn’t for criminal-coddling technicalities that make a cop’s job so difficult, he wouldn’t have any need to lie. In fact, in a perfect world, there wouldn’t have been a trial at all, Lupo’s word being all any law-abiding citizen needed.

This story was sent to me by a young Philadelphia civil litigator who was shocked (shocked!) that police officers would so brazenly lie. He was outraged that such a thing could happen.

If they don’t press charges against the police officer for perjury, then our system of justice is a joke. I don’t practice criminal law, but it’s like the courts downright refuse to make the police and prosecutors follow any of the rules, unless it’s so egregious that it ends up on the news. (like Duke Lacrosse). One way of looking at this is the prosecutor proffered perjured testimony… (though I hope the cop just lied to the DA).

To anyone who has spent time in the criminal law trenches, this has to raise a chuckle. Even the implicit epiphany misses most of the problem. Lupo wasn’t a lone indian, but working with his partner, and later a supervisor, all of whom studiously violated as many constitutional rights as they could get their hands on. What of the partner? What of the supervisor? They were all complicit, both in the violation of constitutional rights as well as the conspiracy to lie to the court. No one came forward to out Lupo’s lies.

But the bigger picture, as Diamondstein notes (and Kempton reiterated decades ago), is that this isn’t the outlier, but the norm. There’s a game played in courtrooms, where testimony is provided that conforms to what naive or compliant judges and juries expect of police officers. But cops know how things go in the streets, and laugh at the law. They do what they think they have to do, what the believe they can get away with, and tell the story to the court they know it wants to hear.

When it’s only a bad guy involved, there’s no hard feelings. It’s a game. We fight over rules, and they lie about them to put the bad guy in prison. Everyone goes home feeling pretty good about themselves.

Had Diamondstein not been able to get his hands on a video that proved Lupo a liar, the case would have gone down the usual path. Lupo would have gotten another ribbon for his shield, and the defendant would be doing some time in the pokey. The judge wouldn’t have broken a sweat buying the testimony and imposing sentence, and the prosecutor would have enjoyed a beer and the admiration of his friends for a job well done.

There was a video, this time.

After the video was played, and Lupo’s lies were revealed to even the blindest person in the room, the brazenness wasn’t over.

After seeing the video, Kirkland took over questioning. In response to her questions, Lupo admitted that his testimony about never having searched the trunk was incorrect.

“I totally forgot about he asked me to open it at one point,” Lupo said, referring to the supervisor on the scene.

“Without a warrant?” Kirkland asked. “Did you have a warrant?”

“No,” Lupo said.

He forgot. All is forgiven. Try that with anyone other than a cop and see how well it works out.

Full text here: http://www.copblock.org/9948/why-you-should-film-police-even-if-youre-breaking-the-law/

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    Some 18 year old chick hit the corner of my bumper in traffic. She was racing another car and there was only one lane beside me. The cop liked her and maybe knew her – it’s a smaller city, they were both the same ethnicity, he was young too, mid-20’s. She didn’t have insurance and her little car was maybe totaled.

    The cop made us wait an hour making phone calls in his car on his cell phone, maybe clearing it with his captain, maybe to make me impatient so I wouldn’t think straight. Eventually, he came out and told me that he was such a nice guy he was only going to issue me a warning in order to avoid a fine to cover my deductible to fix my bumper. He declined to give me a copy of the warning notice, saying he wasn’t required to but that I could collect one from a police station in 2 days (actually, the police station doesn’t receive copies).

    He wouldn’t tell me whether he was ticketing her but let me think that he was. Next he went to her car, and when I came back 5 mins. later from taking a pee he was still talking.

    He didn’t give her a ticket, not even for no insurance. Issuing me only a warning meant I could not contest the case in municipal court – I had no standing. I got the only ticket issued (even if it did not go on a police record it went on an insurance record) and therefore my insurance Co. paid for a new car for her. Neat.

    • Hey Sar,

      It is (unfortunately) up to the cop’s discretion whether to issue a ticket; however, if your state has a mandatory insurance law (and I think every state does these days) then that girl who hit you was legally required to have coverage just to be driving on the road – and if she was involved in an accident (you’ve got proof; the fact that there was a cop involved) and the cop knew she did not have insurance (he is probably required by law to check when there is an accident involving damage to property) then you have recourse against both her and the cop.

      Contact the local prosecutor’s office immediately and inform them of the facts. At minimum, you’ll be able to direct some heat onto the cop’s ass and also get the girl who hit your car in a lot of trouble with the law and the DMV. You may also have recourse to sue for the damages to your vehicle in civil court.

      Go ask a lawyer who handles traffic cases.

  3. I have yet to meet a cop that had any personal integrity or personal courage. They take an oath to uphold the Constitution and then intentionally violate that oath. The same goes for lawyers and judges.

    There are good cops and bad cops. To tell the difference ask a cop how many bad cips he has arrested. If the answer is none then you know who you are talking to.

  4. I concur that on the face of it, video recording any encounter with authorities would be helpful when rights are violated or false testimony is tendered by enforcers HOWEVER take note and note well – many states and cities in the USA have enacted statutes making such recordings by citizens a criminal act. sometimes the legislators feel that publicly employed police fulfilling their public duty in a public place would have their personal privacy violated if filmed doing so. Other places think that filming any police procedure aids terrorists and abominates the holy grail of homeland security. check the laws in illinois, Massachusetts, Florida and Maryland.

    • This business of it being illegal to video or record a public official out in public performing a public duty is an outrageous double standard given they are entitled to film and record us and we have been told that we have no “expectation of privacy” outside of our homes, even though we are private citizens.

      This, like Gate Rape and all the rest of it, must be challenged. If allowed to stand, we’re that much closer to Camps and much worse besides.

  5. A lawyer friend of mine told me once that the “biggest liars” on the witness stands are the ones wearing the badges. As my son was being railroaded for a traffic accident by the DA, I found out that his words were so very true.
    They need to be stood up to, but it can be soooo expensive.

  6. My son was pulled over for an alleged DUI. He surprised, and dismayed, his public defense attorney because he demanded a jury trial, instead of rolling over and wetting himself, and, of course, buying his freedom, by paying fines of $2,500.00.
    The older, seasoned (lazy, hardened)public defender sluffed my son’s case off to a green, recently licensed lawyer, that had just joined the Public Defenders office.
    This guy was excellent. He called out the DA and the pathetic judge on several violations of the defendant’s rights, including the right to be confronted by his accuser; the witnesses testimony being inconsistent, etc.
    The judge disallowed several of the defendant’s rights, and pretty much allowed the DA to direct the jury to a guilty verdict.
    My son asked his attorney to appeal and he did. In an unanimous decision of the three judge appeals court, the case was reversed.
    I highly recommend that ALL DUI defendants insist on a jury trial.
    This will so jam up the courts, that reforms will be made, DA’s will stop railroading the accused by threats, intimidation, and lies, and perhaps legislators will stop passing unconstitutional laws that attempt to punish people for what MIGHT occur (injury or property damage)from someone driving while under the influence. Even a little thought will lead to how ridiculous this becomes.
    Punishment is for those who actually CAUSE HARM. Otherwise, we are all guilty because there are lots of things that COULD happen!

    Also, the vast majority of the DUI cases were Hispanic, many had to have an interpreter, and they invariably plead guilty (in fact, without exception) and there were dozens of them. The very stiff fines are more than these people earn in 4-5 months, or about what wealthy white guys make in a bad hour, especially their lawyers.

    • Kudos!
      The same goes for EVERY traffic “offense”; request a jury trial. If even 1% of people did this, it would stop being profitable and the system would grind to a halt.

      That said–most juries are comprised of statist Clovers. I wish more people understood how powerful they are as jurors! They can decide not just the facts of the case, but judge the law itself; they out-rank the judge…but he sure as hell doesn’t want you to know that!

      Check out the fully informed jury association at:
      Fully Informed Jury Association

      • My wife was recently called up for jury duty. They were assigned numbered seats during the selection process. The judge gave all 65 of them “instructions” that they were supposed to swear to. This included not discussing the case with anyone including the other jurors. WTF?

        Then the judge went on to instruct them that they were not to look anything up they heard in court; not on the internet, not the law, not even in the dictionary. Presumably the judge would define things for them.

        When they asked everyone to state their name, my wife only gave them her seat number. When they asked her to raise her hand and swear to their terms, she couldn’t do it, because she’d have had to lie. I’m sure the judge would have been really pleased if she’d known my wife also had a copy of the FIJA Citizen’s Handbook in her pocket (hee-hee, I wonder where she got that?).

        In the end, she told me that they picked the first 12 people seated up front. Her feeling was that they were already selected and the rest of the selection process was for show. I was called up shortly before she was, but the clerk notified me that the case had been settled. I was disappointed, because I could have easily sworn to the judge’s terms. I wouldn’t need to look anything up or discuss it with anyone else. Terms like those are the same as planted evidence to me. I’d simply vote to acquit and if necessary hang the jury.

        I suspect Methyl’s observation that “most juries are comprised of statist Clovers” is not only true, but by careful design. If I make it onto a jury, I might not be able to discuss the case, but I’ll make sure eleven other people are fully informed about the power of the jury before it’s over with. I suspect I won’t ever be selected though. The System can’t have mere mudanes throwing sand in the gears of the wealth extraction machinery.

      • My Wife and I were pulled over 3 weeks ago about 5 blocks away from our house. I rarely wear my shoulder belt, had open heart surgery and it just annoys me, while my Wife always wears hers but on this particular day at that particular moment she did not have hers on.
        2 police cars parked in the weeds and bushes with the two police pointing at vehicles to pull over. We were pulled over because, oops, I was pulled over because they said I didn’t have my seat belt on and for the next 2 weeks it’s “click it or ticket” or some other juvenile and moronic rhyme. It “appears” they have camera’s looking at cars and I guess can see if we have on our seat belts? One cop on one side of the car and the other cop on the other side of the car, a like new jeep. They gave both my Wife and I $110.00 each tickets and looked at us in the way a bully in grammer school looks at his next prey. Now maybe they didn’t really look that way but it seemed that way to both of us.
        This is for our safety? Bullshit.

        • “Safety” is the excuse – power and money are the reasons.

          Even so, “our safety” is none of the government’s business. The only legitimate business of government is protecting our rights. Your wearing (or not wearing) a seat belt in now way affects any of my rights. Thus, your decision to wear (or not wear) a seat belt is none of the my business. And hence, none of the government’s business.

    • Your son displayed bravery and wisdom. He was also quite lucky. Had he been stuck with the lazy “seasoned” public defender he probably would have been pressured into accepting a disappointing at best plea bargain agreement hastily arranged in a side room.

  7. Or even if your not.
    Many years ago I was stopped by a police officer for driving over a yellow line while pulling out of a very tight parking space. The officer insisted that I had been drinking when if fact I had not been. I was asked to recite the alphabet backwards starting with the letter R all the while he was shinning a very bright light in my eyes. Being nervous and a little unsure of my situation, I was unable to complete his request. At that point, I was asked to get out of my car where I was immediately handcuffed an put in his cruiser. I was taken to a local police station where I was given a breathing test for alcohol which showed no alcohol in my body. The officer was so sure I had been drinking, he told his supervisor he saw me stumble to my car and could not pass his sobriety test, at which point I was given a urine test.
    The results of this test could not available until the next day so I spent about 4 hours that night in a jail cell. I tried to explain to them that I had a stoke a few years earlier and I still have limp or walking problem on occasion. Any way,I sued the town and the officer and supervisor for this arrest, for impounding and damaging my car and my reputation(arrest reports appear in the newspaper). The urine test came back clean and no one even called me. My attorney told me this happens all to often. I have since learned that the city which is the capital of the state where I was arrested had only 4% of their manpower properly trained in alcohol related arrests. This happened almost 8 years ago and it has just recently come to a favorable resolution. Portable phone cameras where not yet readily available, but would have been useless anyway, because all my personal items were taken from me and the police car camera only took videos of what the police officer said and did. Sorry for the long comment.

  8. Let’s look a little deeper, is it possible that defense attorneys lie about their clients activities, in my opinion the source of the problem starts with the attorneys/legal system which goes way back to lost family values. Yes, the world we live in is a mess because of lack of actability! Hope our days get better!

    • Really Jim? This all relates back to defense attorneys? Actually, this is about lazy cops who would rather violate the constitution than follow the rules. These cops had a warrant coming, but didn’t want to wait for it. Your pathetic attempt to shift the blame is the reason that cops are so arrogant and lazy – because many citizens are sheep and refuse to actually question what they are being told by persons with “authority”.

    • Gee, I do wish you had a brain. It’s ACCOUNTABILITY!!!!
      The fact is that neither party to this action wanted to be held accountable.
      But when you maybe consider again, perhaps the officers of the LAW might have had the 2 cents worth of pride to do their job in a forthcoming and honest manner, being accountable to the people (you – fool) that they represent.











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