Is It Legal To Film Police?
Police don’t want you to film them. Of course, if they’re not doing anything wrong, then they don’t have anything to worry about. Right? Not so fast. Some states have passed legislation preventing members of the public from filming police. This, of course, hasn’t stopped them, but it can make a difference in a criminal trial. For instance, if someone films a police officer savagely beating someone to death, that evidence may not be presentable in court if it was obtained illegally. So, the stakes are high when it comes to filming the police. A recent appellate court decision here in Florida reaffirmed the public’s right to film police, overturning a lower court decision charging the woman specifically for filming police.
The West Palm Beach Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a ruling that a woman should have been arrested for filming police. The decision was hailed as a victory for the public. Police, on the other hand, have a vested interest in preventing the public from filming them. Why is that?
Well, for years police brutality and murder were hidden under a cloak of plausible deniability. Once a police officer becomes a defendant, they are subject to the same high standard of proof as any defendant in a criminal courtroom. While for years, it was just your word against their word, now we have videotape confirming the level of brutality and the indifference to life.
The Derek Chauvin trial
So, let’s all get one thing straight. Derek Chauvin would have never faced charges had video not surfaced of the George Floyd murder. The department’s medical examiner had ruled the death an accidental result of complications related to Floyd’s health. It was only until after the video was released that scrutiny began to fall on Chauvin, and then onto the police department at large for obfuscating the facts in the case.
While it’s certainly possible that your health could make you more prone to dying during a police stop, the police couldn’t convince anyone that there was someone who could survive 8 minutes of blood not making its way to their brain. Anyone, regardless of how physically fit they were, would have died as a result of their blood flow being blocked to their brain.
Nonetheless, we wouldn’t have known any of that if video hadn’t surfaced of the arrest. There would be no record of how long Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck and no successful case could have been made against Chauvin proving that his actions led to Floyd’s death. The ME would have paraded one health symptom after another to account for Floyd’s untimely demise.
So, yes. Police don’t want you to film them. But there’s nothing they can legally do to prevent it.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re facing charges, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to schedule an appointment. We can begin preparing your case immediately. Call today!