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Thread: Bike v. Police

  1. #1
    Know Your Turf bluejack's Avatar
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    Bike v. Police

    Bicyclist:
    (A) nearly hit by car.
    (B) discombobulated, veers momentarily across yellow line
    (C) pulled over, harassed, and ticketed by policeman who "saw the whole thing" and accused the cyclist of unsafe riding.

    Is there anything that can be said in favor of the police position here? Am I missing something?

    Worst thing: I've been told that if the cyclist tries to use this video in court he will be thrown in jail for recording the police without telling them. Can that possibly be true?

    Recorded on helmet cam, here:
    Bike vs. Cop
    work as though you live in the younger days of a better nation. -alasdair gray

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    Wow, that sucks... why doesn't the guy in the SUV get a ticket for crossing the line?
    I do have to wonder why you didn't pull over when he first put on his siren before the traffic light? That probably didn't help his mood.

    Worst thing: I've been told that if the cyclist tries to use this video in court he will be thrown in jail for recording the police without telling them. Can that possibly be true?
    Possibly... lookup the guy in maryland who got pulled over on his motorcycle... not only arrested but all his equipment confiscated... the surveillance laws are being abused by police in these cases.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHjjF55M8JQ
    That doesn't mean you can't try, it depends on the judge, and the local laws on wiretapping.

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    Know Your Turf bluejack's Avatar
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    FWIW, this is not me! Just a video that got posted today and I thought might be of interest here, and am particularly interested in laws pertaining to using a helmet cam, because I wear one myself from time to time, and always thought that the scenario of getting harassed by police would be one good use for it.
    work as though you live in the younger days of a better nation. -alasdair gray

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    Senior Member mustachiod's Avatar
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    wow, if this cop followed me home, i would receive over 100 citations in less than an hour

    what a doosh-nozzle
    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    BF does not have the answer to what you will be happy with.

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    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Honestly, it looked to me like the biker could've been further to the right. He looked to be dead-center in the lane.

    Not stopping when first signaled by the police certainly didn't help him.

    Losing one's balance is probably not a good excuse for crossing the center line. Someone driving a car wouldn't get off w/that excuse.

  6. #6
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
    Honestly, it looked to me like the biker could've been further to the right. He looked to be dead-center in the lane.
    And depending on local & state laws, that may have been perfectly legal. Here in Texas, if the lane is less than 14 feet wide, as far to the right as possible does not apply.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    1. Don't argue with cops. They have (a) guns, (b) arrest authority, and frequently (c) an attitude. State your position and shut up.
    2. Pull over when they first signal. Failing to do so contributes to (c) above.
    3. In Florida, at least, recording such an encounter is completely legal.
    4. I don't think the video helps you. There is a lot of traffic, space to the right of the white line (though it seems to fade away at times - hard to tell if it's safe for riding), and you clearly did cross the yellow line. It is rare that you will win a citation because someone else (here, the driver that passed you unsafely) broke the law.

    B-Jack - Sorry, just read the post stating this wasn't you.

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    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Again, according to Texas law, the crossing over the yellow line may have been legal; One may cross the double yellow to avoid an accident. If by swerving right the rider avoided the accident but had to swerve left to regain his balance (which appears to be the case), that would be a legal maneuver. Failing to pull over at the first signal damned the rider to a ticket in this case I think.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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    Know Your Turf bluejack's Avatar
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    Yeah, agreed. That was profoundly dumb. On first viewing I thought maybe he was confused about who was being signalled, but that neither makes sense nor matters. He should have pulled over. Very dumb.
    work as though you live in the younger days of a better nation. -alasdair gray

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    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Unmarked cop car, un-uniformed cop ... I'd be reluctant to stop until I was sure too. What was that guy, anyways? He had a badge, but he didn't write the ticket. And what a jerk!

    Sounds like a good situation to have recorded -- the video shows the extremely close passing, shows a slight loss of control, shows him only crossing the line for a few seconds, etc. Should be instrumental in getting the ticket thrown out, however ...

    Massachusetts is one of the states that has a "two party consent" wiretapping law, and indeed it's one of the states that has used these laws against the taping of the police. So while most states are more reasonable in their laws, this was taken in one of the bad states. So this video could get the guy who took it in trouble.

    Based on the site and the wide-angle, it's a CounterHD mounted to his camera. It's quite obvious, though the cops (?) never made any reference to it so maybe he didn't notice?
    Last edited by dougmc; 08-12-10 at 02:40 PM.

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    Bicikli Huszár sudo bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    Unmarked cop car, un-uniformed cop ... I'd be reluctant to stop until I was sure too. What was that guy, anyways? He had a badge, but he didn't write the ticket. And what a jerk!

    Sounds like a good situation to have recorded, however ...

    Massachusetts is one of the states that has a "two party consent" wiretapping law, and indeed it's one of the states that has used these laws against the taping of the police. So while most states are more reasonable in their laws, this was taken in one of the bad states. So this video could get the guy who took it in trouble.

    Based on the site and the wide-angle, it's a CounterHD mounted to his camera. It's quite obvious, though the cops (?) never made any reference to it so maybe he didn't notice?
    I thought the tapping laws did not come into play if audio is removed/not recorded?
    "The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind. I love the bicycle. I always have. I can think of no sincere, decent human being, male or female, young or old, saint or sinner, who can resist the bicycle."

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    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sudo bike View Post
    I thought the tapping laws did not come into play if audio is removed/not recorded?
    Did you have your speakers turned off while watching the video? It has clear audio, you can hear and understand everything said. And I don't think removing the audio is sufficient -- it needs to not have been recorded to be safe, and really, if the video is clear enough to read lips from, that might make just the video sufficient. And the video has been published, which seems to be another violation according to my very quick skimming of the MA law.

    Either way, the camera should have been fairly visible, which makes it harder to claim it was was done secretly. Sometimes that matters, sometimes not.

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Florida has a two-party consent law, but only if the speaker has a reasonable expecation of privacy. It's ahard to argue that a police officer making a traffic stop on a busy street has any expectation of privacy.

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    Bicikli Huszár sudo bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    Did you have your speakers turned off while watching the video?
    No, I couldn't watch it . Flash keeps crashing on it, for some reason. Anyway, that's not what I was driving at...

    It has clear audio, you can hear and understand everything said. And I don't think removing the audio is sufficient -- it needs to not have been recorded to be safe, and really, if the video is clear enough to read lips from, that might make just the video sufficient. And the video has been published, which seems to be another violation according to my very quick skimming of the MA law.
    I would think removal of audio would be. If you bring a video to court with no audio, it's got no audio, period. Were it never posted before, there'd be no way of showing that he ever recorder audio of the cop. I wonder if there's any precedent there....

    As to the violation by posting - yeah, you're likely right.
    "The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind. I love the bicycle. I always have. I can think of no sincere, decent human being, male or female, young or old, saint or sinner, who can resist the bicycle."

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    If the cyclist wants to fight the ticket he doesn't need to show the part with the cops to the court. Just the part with the car nearly running him over to explain his actions. Looks like compelling evidence - sounds like the car even hit the bike.

    Either way the issue of video/audio taping cops is moot. The ticket is what he is fighting not the cops behavoir.

    The cop seems pretty arrogant, but not pulling over for him didn't help.

    There was an OK shoulder when the car passed. The cyclist could have been there, but wasn't. He may have to explain why he chose not to stay as far right as practicable in that section of roadway.

    I don't have a helmet cam but have often thought one facing forward and one rear would be best. Facing forward only shows half the story.

    Glad, overall, that the rider is OK in the end.

    Hey....my first post!

    Mike

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluejack View Post
    Worst thing: I've been told that if the cyclist tries to use this video in court he will be thrown in jail for recording the police without telling them. Can that possibly be true?
    During the Spanish Inquisition, sure; I'd hope not any longer.

    Attorney: "Your honor, seeing as how the court is faced with the difficult task of reaching a decision in this case, may it please the court, I would like to present new information to help you reach an informed conclusion."
    Judge: "No! Knowledge is evil! Break this man on the rack! Or just send his client to jail."

    Quote Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
    It is rare that you will win a citation because someone else (here, the driver that passed you unsafely) broke the law.
    I wonder just how rare it really is. The whole point of self defense is that something that would otherwise be illegal is permissible in one particular situation, because somebody else broke the law. If I see somebody drowning in the lake I live on, it's perfectly legal for me to steal a boat to rescue the person; I would have to return it, obviously, but I can't take it in the first place except in this type of circumstance. It's a crime for a construction worker on a high rise to drop a hammer to see what will happen if it hits somebody, another crime to drop the same hammer hoping to hit somebody, and not a crime at all to drop that hammer accidentally having lost balance. What I'm saying is that in theory at least, the law is supposed to consider the circumstances, to distinguish between a guilty act and a guilty mind, etc. For a cyclist to cross the center line momentarily, while avoiding potential death from being hit by a car, is entirely different from doing it for fun, and the court should recognize that. Whether it will is another question.

    Caveat: I didn't watch the video.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sudo bike View Post
    I would think removal of audio would be. If you bring a video to court with no audio, it's got no audio, period.
    Right. In this case, that would certainly work, removing the audio.

    But if the cop had noticed the camera and wanted to be a REAL jerk, he could have asked if it's recording, then immediately arrest the guy after he says "yes" for unlawful wiretapping -- and then he'd never get a chance to erase the audio. Or in court, the judge could ask if there is also audio to go with the recording, and being under oath you're not supposed to lie -- pleading the 5th would be appropriate, but few would immediately realize that.

    In any event, MA is one of those states that has the "bad" laws and has abused them in the past.

    As for this case, audio is pretty important -- the timing of the yell and the siren are both very relevant. But everything after that could be edited out.

    But now, now that it's been published online, and people are looking at it, it's likely to come to the attention of the cop involved if it hasn't already. "Bad cops, here in our city? Hey, that's Bob (made up name)! <dials up Bob> ..." And Bob will look at the video, and his first inclination will probably be "oh ****, that makes me look bad" and his second will be, if he's a good cop will be to "hmm, I guess he was right after all" and if he's an average or a bad cop he'll go "hmm, how can I make this stop?" and if so, it's possible that the cyclist will be arrested for wiretapping charges.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boomerang View Post
    There was an OK shoulder when the car passed. The cyclist could have been there, but wasn't. He may have to explain why he chose not to stay as far right as practicable in that section of roadway.
    In the states where I've lived the legal definition of the roadway does not include the shoulder; i.e. the roadway is only the space between the foglines and riding as far right as practicable does not impose any burden to use the shoulder (although most states do allow bikes to do so if they choose). Haven't checked Mass. law on their definition of roadway but I'd be surprised if it didn't also exclude the shoulder.

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    Senior Member BianchiDave's Avatar
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    Regardless the cyclist crossed the yellow line (as did the vehicle who passed) and that is what the cop is talking about. Also the siren sounded a couple times before it was considered a pursuit (the reason a uniformed officer arrived.)
    The plain clothed officer (most likely the Chief or detective or some higher ranked) most likely saw only the cyclist crossing the yellow line considered it unsafe (which it was) and attempted to stop the cyclist to chew his ass (because plain clothed officer usually don’t write the tickets anymore) (traffic that is) but ended up having to pursue the cyclist.

    Ego Mmmm, can’t say maybe a little, but what are you *****ing about? The car that almost hit you or the cop? If it’s the car go after the car if it’s the cop, I think you might want to put yourself in their position first.
    Seriously think outside the box before you answer.
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    My own worst nightmare
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    If the "two-party consent" law were in effect, then the cops' own dash cam footage would be inadmissable. AFAIK, as said above, "wiretapping" only applies to communications that are done with a reasonable expectation of privacy. Operating a vehicle on the public highways, you have no expectation of privacy. Performing her/his duty in public, neither does the cop. That doesn't stop them from trying to intimidate you into thinking otherwise, of course.

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    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluejack View Post
    Is there anything that can be said in favor of the police position here? Am I missing something?
    It's hard to tell how the lane violation was caused by the close pass.

    As far as I know, the law on recording official actions varies state-by-state.
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    Two party consent doesn't apply in places where you have no reasonable expectation of privacy - like on the street.
    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    it's 'leaving the scene of an accident' because no state government has passed a law against 'leaving the scene of an on-purpose'.

  23. #23
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
    If the "two-party consent" law were in effect, then the cops' own dash cam footage would be inadmissable.
    ... unless it was permitted by law, and in this case it is.

    From the law in question --

    D. Exemptions. 1. Permitted interception of wire or oral communications.
    ...
    c. for investigative and law enforcement officers ...
    AFAIK, as said above, "wiretapping" only applies to communications that are done with a reasonable expectation of privacy.
    Yes, in other states that is there in the law. I do not find such a passage in the MA law here. It does seem to say that the recording must be secretive, however -- is a camera stuck to your helmet secretive? The helmet was put down after being pulled over -- that could be construed as trying to hide the camera ...

    And again, people have been charged and convicted for wiretapping for simply openly recording the police in MA before. That is not a hypothetical situation -- it did happen -- -- but that has not (yet?) happened to the guy who took this video that we're talking about.

    It's a very real danger, I'd say. Most states have more reasonable laws regarding recording what happens in public, but a few have laws that have been abused by law enforcement to punish those who make them look bad or commit "contempt of cop".
    Last edited by dougmc; 08-12-10 at 05:06 PM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    . Failing to pull over at the first signal damned the rider to a ticket in this case I think.
    Disagree The car that pulled him over seemed to be unmarked, and he was giving bursts of the siren, not a continuous siren. When he caught up with the car at the intersection, after the first siren, he looks back at the black car following him - it was not showing any lights, or other indication that it was a law enforcement vehicle.

    One thought - it appeared as though the vehicle that made the close/unsafe pass in the first few seconds was a black Ford SUV - identical to the unmarked car that pulls the cyclist over. What are the chances that the vehicle making the unsafe pass was another unmarked police vehicle?
    Last edited by sauerwald; 08-12-10 at 06:10 PM. Reason: Another thought...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sauerwald View Post
    Disagree The car that pulled him over seemed to be unmarked, and he was giving bursts of the siren, not a continuous siren. When he caught up with the car at the intersection, after the first siren, he looks back at the black car following him - it was not showing any lights, or other indication that it was a law enforcement vehicle.

    One thought - it appeared as though the vehicle that made the close/unsafe pass in the first few seconds was a black Ford SUV - identical to the unmarked car that pulls the cyclist over. What are the chances that the vehicle making the unsafe pass was another unmarked police vehicle?
    Nope. 1st Small Unit Vehicle was blue, and obviously a civilian vehicle.
    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    it's 'leaving the scene of an accident' because no state government has passed a law against 'leaving the scene of an on-purpose'.

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