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Old 09-12-07, 01:03 AM   #1
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Hypothetical questions for fooster laywers

Something I saw on a news sight made me think of this.
Suppose I'm driving a vehicle that has a video/audio recording device attached to it and get pulled over by a cop when I stop in a parking lot (for whatever reason). After the cop gets my info and finds out I'm NOT up to no good he decides in his mind that I must be guilty of something so he starts harassing me. I still keep my cool and inform him that I know my rights and such and that I know that I am not breaking any laws. So he then decides to tell me that he will either arrest me and make up charges later or just beat my ass right here and now. After all, it's my word against his.
At that point I fear for my life, seeing as a man with a gun just threatened me harm. I have all of this audio recorded as evidence.
Can I legally do what I need to do to get back in my car and get as far away from this guy as possible? Meaning that if he trys to restrain me can I physically fight back so long as the officer touches me first? The way I see it at this point I can no longer recognize this persons authority, after threatening me the way he did I can't even see myself acknowledge that he is an officer of the law but rather a thug in a uniform.

So all you laywers out there, anyone want to take a shot and make a comment?

And even if I did manage to get in my car and drive off, what would be the best thing to do then? Obviously I couldn't trust in "calling the police".
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Old 09-12-07, 02:18 AM   #2
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Wow..I'm curious as to what you "saw on a news site" to make you think of this. The answer to you question is that it really can't be answered. Decisions like the one your talking about don't happen out of a situation that you so shortly described. As someone who has worked in law enforcement for a number of years, the question is just the lid on the can of a hypothetical can of worms. News stories are generally not news at all, but short snippets of some much longer and convoluted situation in which you are only handed some inviting highlights. Sports is news, "this is what happened" and that's it.
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Old 09-12-07, 02:52 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by pj7 View Post
Something I saw on a news sight made me think of this.
Suppose I'm driving a vehicle that has a video/audio recording device attached to it and get pulled over by a cop when I stop in a parking lot (for whatever reason). After the cop gets my info and finds out I'm NOT up to no good he decides in his mind that I must be guilty of something so he starts harassing me. I still keep my cool and inform him that I know my rights and such and that I know that I am not breaking any laws. So he then decides to tell me that he will either arrest me and make up charges later or just beat my ass right here and now. After all, it's my word against his.
At that point I fear for my life, seeing as a man with a gun just threatened me harm. I have all of this audio recorded as evidence.
Can I legally do what I need to do to get back in my car and get as far away from this guy as possible? Meaning that if he trys to restrain me can I physically fight back so long as the officer touches me first? The way I see it at this point I can no longer recognize this persons authority, after threatening me the way he did I can't even see myself acknowledge that he is an officer of the law but rather a thug in a uniform.

So all you laywers out there, anyone want to take a shot and make a comment?

And even if I did manage to get in my car and drive off, what would be the best thing to do then? Obviously I couldn't trust in "calling the police".
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Old 09-12-07, 04:34 AM   #4
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When he calls for backup, they will come quickly to help him and not you.
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Old 09-12-07, 06:26 AM   #5
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Despite what your video games tell you, running from the police is always stupid.
"Fighting back" and then runnning from the police is exponentially more stupid.
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Old 09-12-07, 06:43 AM   #6
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Like it or not the reality is on the street it's the cop's day, you get your day in court.
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Old 09-12-07, 06:45 AM   #7
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This must be the news story in question.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/new...C?OpenDocument
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Old 09-12-07, 06:59 AM   #8
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This must be the news story in question.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/new...C?OpenDocument
Interesting story, good thing this young man kept his cool. If he had lost it the outcome would have been very different. Backup cops would have arrived, assume him a criminal and then sort it out later. Keep your cool, keep your video and save your skin . . . .literally. If not you could be defending yourself in court in a full body cast or worse.
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Old 09-12-07, 07:42 AM   #9
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Not licensed yet, about to start school....but...this is not a law question. There is no real definition of harassment here. Aside from that, the officers have to abide by a code of ethics. Your sole responsibility is to do what the officer says. It is a question of intent.

For example, the officer is not out looking to beat up a nice person. You, however, are sitting in some lot with an audio/video recording device. (side question: like the officer, I would like to know what you are doing?) Also, it is very likely that the officer has dispatched his stop, pulled your license plate, and that his patrol car camera is on. With these things in place, the officer is held to a higher standard and will not bother you physically unless he has a reason to.

Back to your question...if he harasses you anyway, you can fight him in court, and the tape that was in his car (that he can't erase) can be used as evidence. The audio tape you made would be inadmissable in court because the opposing party didn't know they were being taped. You may be able to get a judge to allow it, but it isn't likely.

In other words, you'd be screwed. So, the lesson is that you shouldn't expect such behavior from a public servant, and if he does so, then you should call the police as they will have a log of your complaint at the time of the problem, and that is something you can use in court.

Much of law is about reasoning and logic, and there is no good reasoning and/or logic of why this would happen in your scenario.
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Old 09-12-07, 07:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pj7 View Post
Something I saw on a news sight made me think of this.
Suppose I'm driving a vehicle that has a video/audio recording device attached to it and get pulled over by a cop when I stop in a parking lot (for whatever reason). After the cop gets my info and finds out I'm NOT up to no good he decides in his mind that I must be guilty of something so he starts harassing me. I still keep my cool and inform him that I know my rights and such and that I know that I am not breaking any laws. So he then decides to tell me that he will either arrest me and make up charges later or just beat my ass right here and now. After all, it's my word against his.
At that point I fear for my life, seeing as a man with a gun just threatened me harm. I have all of this audio recorded as evidence.
Can I legally do what I need to do to get back in my car and get as far away from this guy as possible? Meaning that if he trys to restrain me can I physically fight back so long as the officer touches me first? The way I see it at this point I can no longer recognize this persons authority, after threatening me the way he did I can't even see myself acknowledge that he is an officer of the law but rather a thug in a uniform.

So all you laywers out there, anyone want to take a shot and make a comment?

And even if I did manage to get in my car and drive off, what would be the best thing to do then? Obviously I couldn't trust in "calling the police".

Keep in mind, he is armed.
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Old 09-12-07, 07:53 AM   #11
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This must be the news story in question.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/new...C?OpenDocument
That azzhat cop needs to be out of a job and in counseling pronto.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:02 AM   #12
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Standard disclaimer: This advice is worth what you paid for it. I'm licensed only in Texas and I don't know what the law is where you are. It may be the same; it may be vastly different.

Okay, that said, you are still under a general duty to do what a police officer says. As long as the officer states he is acting pursuant to his authority as a peace officer, he is acting under color of law, even if he is actions are illegal. Note that there is a distinction between a legal act and one perpetrated under color of law. It's kind of the same way that an employer can use his authority to harass an employee. He is acting within the scope of his authority, but it is a misuse of that authority. So the short answer is, no, you can't just get back in your car and leave the scene.

As for the admissibility of your tape recording, crdean1's response is correct for some states but not for all. In Texas, for example, it is not necessary that all participants in a conversation know that they are being tape recorded for that recording to be admissible as evidence. All that is required is that one of the participants knows of the taping. This varies from state to state, obviously, and I can't say what the law is where you are. In Texas, the tape might well be admissible.

As for calling the police after the fact, that is, in fact, your recourse if you want the criminal justice system involved. You don't have the right to assume that just because one cop is dirty, they all are or that they will all stick up for the bad apple. Your other recourse is through the civil system, generally with a federal action under 42 USC sec. 1983, for deprivation of civil rights under color of law. This would allow you to seek monetary damages in a civil suit.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:05 AM   #13
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...With these things in place, the officer is held to a higher standard and will not bother you physically unless he has a reason to.
Hmmm. Let me guess--you're white?

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Back to your question...if he harasses you anyway, you can fight him in court, and the tape that was in his car (that he can't erase) can be used as evidence. The audio tape you made would be inadmissable in court because the opposing party didn't know they were being taped. You may be able to get a judge to allow it, but it isn't likely.
A roadway is a public place and a cop is a public servant. There is no expectation of privacy.

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In other words, you'd be screwed. So, the lesson is that you shouldn't expect such behavior from a public servant, and if he does so, then you should call the police as they will have a log of your complaint at the time of the problem, and that is something you can use in court.
Yes, call the police to complain about the police. That'll help! As this gentleman showed, it's more effective to tape it and post to the internets. The officer was immediately suspended. A complaint bounces off the blue wall.


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Much of law is about reasoning and logic, .



What's lost here: the officer likely broke the law himself. He doesn't need counseling, but a jail cell.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:11 AM   #14
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So he then decides to tell me that he will either arrest me and make up charges later or just beat my ass right here and now.

What the other poster said above touches some of the issues and may be correct. However, the above blurb brings up another issue, which is self defense and use of force against a police officer.

The general criminal law (as may vary from state to date in terms of particulars) allows for the use of necessary and proportionate, non-deadly force in self-defense anytime the victim reasonably believes that unlawful force is about to be used on him. If I'm not mistaken, this includes a situation wherein the actor is a cop.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:18 AM   #15
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Not licensed yet, about to start school....but...this is not a law question. There is no real definition of harassment here. 1. Aside from that, the officers have to abide by a code of ethics. 2. Your sole responsibility is to do what the officer says. It is a question of intent.

For example, the officer is not out looking to beat up a nice person. You, however, are sitting in some lot with an audio/video recording device. (3. side question: like the officer, I would like to know what you are doing?) Also, it is very likely that the officer has dispatched his stop, pulled your license plate, and that his patrol car camera is on. With these things in place, 4. the officer is held to a higher standard and will not bother you physically unless he has a reason to.

Back to your question...if he harasses you anyway, you can fight him in court, and the tape that was in his car (that he can't erase) can be used as evidence. The audio tape you made would be inadmissable in court because the opposing party didn't know they were being taped. You may be able to get a judge to allow it, but it isn't likely.

In other words, you'd be screwed. So, the lesson is that you shouldn't expect such behavior from a public servant, and if he does so, then you should call the police as they will have a log of your complaint at the time of the problem, and that is something you can use in court.

Much of law is about reasoning and logic, and there is no good reasoning and/or logic of why this would happen in your scenario.
1. Police have to obey the LAW, not some "code of ethics". If there is a code of ethics, it's above and beyond what the law requires.

2. Not true. Your responsibility is to know your rights and to exercise them. Now, if the officer is belligerent, as in this story, your best bet is to comply and then file the complaint. Obviously the presumption will be on his side and when backup arrives; it's to help him and his story, not yours. However, your responsibility is NOT to blindly do whatever a cop says.

3. Without some reason to ask, a cop (or you, for that matter) has absolutely no reason or right to ask what a citizen is doing. You can sit anywhere and have the expectation of being unmolested by the police. Of course, the caveat is that known high crime areas may give enough probable cause for an officer to approach you, but we don't know if that's the case in this story.

4. Obviously not.

As for the tape, I guess that'd depend on state laws. Not all police departments have patrol car videos. So, since you don't know if the cop who pulled you over has one, your argument would seem to apply to both parties, meaning if yours would be inadmissible, so would theirs unless they advise you you are being taped. However, if the police video is acceptable, then I would think the citizen's is, too. Also, since the cop acknowledges the video camera, he knew he was being recorded and your statement that it would be inadmissible is wrong.

Our job as citizens is to exercise our rights. When I'm pulled over, my first question - if the officer does not offer it - is, "what am I being pulled over for?" If I am randomly asked for my ID, I will always ask for what purpose. If a cop ever asks to search your car, the answer is "no". If he has probable cause, he doesn't need your permission. Do I have anything to hide? Absolutely not, but that doesn't mean I'm going to give away my rights just because a cause asks. I haven't served 20 years in the Navy to throw away the rights I'm sworn to protect!

By the way, the answer to one of the OPs questions is yes. Tell the officer that if he is going to arrest you, to do it, otherwise, you are leaving. Then do so. Yes, you're taking a chance the cop will react physically, but if he has no reason to hold you, he'll let you go. You're actually calling his bluff. And I do know someone who did this. Got stopped for a valid reason - tail light out - and after going over this and getting the ticket, the cop started yelling at the person. After about 30 minutes, the person said, basically, I'm leaving and got in the car and drove away leaving the cop standing there blustering.

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Old 09-12-07, 08:39 AM   #16
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Like it or not the reality is on the street it's the cop's day, you get your day in court.
too true.

my brother sometimes represents cops who've pulled idiotic stuff like this.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:53 AM   #17
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Hmmm. Let me guess--you're white?

A roadway is a public place and a cop is a public servant. There is no expectation of privacy.

Yes, call the police to complain about the police. That'll help! As this gentleman showed, it's more effective to tape it and post to the internets. The officer was immediately suspended. A complaint bounces off the blue wall.



What's lost here: the officer likely broke the law himself. He doesn't need counseling, but a jail cell.
Not sure about what me being white has to do with it. I should add that I generally feel that officers are inherently good, however, as with anything, there are exceptions. Like this officer, for instance. I agree, for what he did he should be punished, and he should spend some time in jail. His job and how he conducts himself is that important, he would serve as an example for other existing and future officers to learn from. I do understand that my view, however, is influenced much by me having a few officers as friends and seeing the crap they put up with on a daily basis. I would hope that they would approach every car without bias, but I do understand that doesn't always happen.

Two of my cycling buddies, both local officers (one African American and one Asian, since your counting..), would think the same thing.

I could see why this guy, or the OP's (hypothetically) wouldn't want to call the police if he was getting robbed. Completely understandable.
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Old 09-12-07, 10:09 AM   #18
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Not sure about what me being white has to do with it. I should add that I generally feel that officers are inherently good, however, as with anything, there are exceptions. Like this officer, for instance. I agree, for what he did he should be punished, and he should spend some time in jail. His job and how he conducts himself is that important, he would serve as an example for other existing and future officers to learn from. I do understand that my view, however, is influenced much by me having a few officers as friends and seeing the crap they put up with on a daily basis. I would hope that they would approach every car without bias, but I do understand that doesn't always happen.

Two of my cycling buddies, both local officers (one African American and one Asian, since your counting..), would think the same thing.

I could see why this guy, or the OP's (hypothetically) wouldn't want to call the police if he was getting robbed. Completely understandable.
Not to be critical, but save this post and glance back at it after you take the bar in about 3 years, and compare how you think then with how you think now. You will be amazed night and day with how you would analyze the above facts. Not being mean, it's just interesting how a person tackles an issue prior to and after a legal education. BTW, about it not being a "law issue," on the contrary the above facts were absolutely swarming with legal issues....you could easily fill a 3 hour l.s. exam writing about the issues raised by the above facts. criminal procedure, constitutional - 1st amendment, 4th amendment, criminal law, torts, ....
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Old 09-12-07, 10:36 AM   #19
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No, you're not being critical, I agree. I specifically stated that I had not even started school yet. I won't start until next fall. Although I recruit and place attorneys on a daily basis (which doesn't teach you anything about the law), I do know that having been to school (and having experience) will change your views (it should). I thought it was clear that it was my opinion, but I should have outright stated it. I am not a legal authority by any means. Civil Rights issues are clearly law, however, without direct specifics from the OP (what was the harassment, etc?, other details) it would be hard to build a solid case.

Even so, I'll be going into Estate Planning and Probate, and I will probably never be involved with a case like this one (for which I'm sure you are grateful).

Having later read the article, if that is what the OP was referring to, it is clearly a rights issue.

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Old 09-12-07, 11:51 AM   #20
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An interesting book on issues of disparity in treatment, mainly focused on criminal court.
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Old 09-12-07, 12:40 PM   #21
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No, you're not being critical, I agree. I specifically stated that I had not even started school yet. I won't start until next fall. Although I recruit and place attorneys on a daily basis (which doesn't teach you anything about the law), I do know that having been to school (and having experience) will change your views (it should). I thought it was clear that it was my opinion, but I should have outright stated it. I am not a legal authority by any means. Civil Rights issues are clearly law, however, without direct specifics from the OP (what was the harassment, etc?, other details) it would be hard to build a solid case.

Even so, I'll be going into Estate Planning and Probate, and I will probably never be involved with a case like this one (for which I'm sure you are grateful).

Having later read the article, if that is what the OP was referring to, it is clearly a rights issue.
Yeah, you were clear about that point, which is what I thought made my comment more relevant. I still remember my orientation of law school they gave us all a sample fact pattern and law school exam question to just gauge how we would approach it, and mine must have been terrible because I was among a percentage that are chosen for extra mentoring based on my essay (it's actually a great mentoring program and people who didn't make the cut ironically wished they had).

You will have to decide later if you are better off or worse for having had your thought process corrupted...er...changed by l.s. You unavoidably see things with different eyes even maybe after your 1st year, it's kinda funny/scary.
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Old 09-13-07, 08:49 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by DevLaVaca View Post
Despite what your video games tell you, running from the police is always stupid.
"Fighting back" and then runnning from the police is exponentially more stupid.
And this is why I asked the people more familiar with the law to answer my question, so I wouldn't get stuff like this.
You're trying to tell a man who spent a pretty large chunk of his life in prison that it is stupid to run from the cops thinking I'm some sort of teenager.
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Old 09-13-07, 08:51 AM   #23
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This must be the news story in question.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/new...C?OpenDocument
That was one of three.
A couple of us on an irc# were having this discussion because one of us had actually gotten into a fistfight with a cop because the cop said "I'm going to beat the **** out of you right here and now" and it was caught on video.... My friend ended up getting arrested by another police officer but was never cited for asaulting the cop. Not sure what happened to the cop in that case.
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Old 09-13-07, 08:58 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by crdean1 View Post
For example, the officer is not out looking to beat up a nice person.
You've obviously never run into a drunk sherrifs deputy in eartern kentucky have you?
I have.

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With these things in place, the officer is held to a higher standard and will not bother you physically unless he has a reason to.
As is the case with the video posted above, the officer turned his video off *before* he made the stop. Why would he do that unless he had prior intentions to do something that he did not want on video.

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Back to your question...if he harasses you anyway, you can fight him in court, and the tape that was in his car (that he can't erase) can be used as evidence. The audio tape you made would be inadmissable in court because the opposing party didn't know they were being taped. You may be able to get a judge to allow it, but it isn't likely.
The audio tape I made would not be inadmissable because in a public place only one party has to aware of the recording. There is no "reasonable expectation of privacy" for a public official in a public place doing their job. Was the video of Rodney King inadmissable in court? And wiretapping does not cover this because of the same reason. This has been discussed by me and others until I was sick of talking about it in the past.

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In other words, you'd be screwed. So, the lesson is that you shouldn't expect such behavior from a public servant, and if he does so, then you should call the police as they will have a log of your complaint at the time of the problem, and that is something you can use in court.
Because going to court with 3 broken ribs and unable to urinate by myself because of a rogue cop will surely make me feel better.

Thanks for your responses by the way.
Much of law is about reasoning and logic, and there is no good reasoning and/or logic of why this would happen in your scenario.[/QUOTE]
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Old 09-13-07, 09:00 AM   #25
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Keep in mind, he is armed.
You're assuming that I'm not.
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