New Jersey girl’s cop video brings back memories of Maryland man

Friday morning on NPR I heard a story that reminded me of a situation in Maryland last year involving a person taking video of police officers in action.

Khaliah Fitchette, a teenage girl in Newark, N.J., was riding the bus last year when cops got on to deal with a man who seemed drunk. Fitchette pulled out her cell phone thinking this might be a good time to shoot video.

When the police told her to turn off her phone, Fitchette refused. What happened next surprised her. A female officer pulled her off the bus and into her police car, erased the video and kept her for two hours before releasing her without pressing charges.

Now, Fitchette is suing the Newark Police Department for violating her civil rights with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union. (And this isn’t the only trouble that police department is in these days).

NPR’s story mentioned that the police in Newark aren’t the only ones trying to stop citizens from catching them on cell phone videos, or in the case of a Maryland man, on his helmet cam.

You might remember the story of Anthony Graber III, a motorcyclist who was pulled over by a state trooper, and happened to video it with his helmet camera. When Graber posted the video to YouTube, he was charged with breaking Maryland’s wiretapping law for recording an officer’s voice without his consent.

Harford County Circuit Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr. threw out the charges because he said the conversation between Graber and the officer was not considered private.

Opponents of taping cops say the recordings make it harder or less safe for them to do their jobs. Maybe that’s the case, or maybe it just makes them more conscious of their actions.

This opinion’s gotta have some of your attention

I did not know The Pretenders had a song called “Brass in Pocket” until last week. Sure, I’d heard the song, where lead singer Chrissie Hynde vows to woo a gentleman using various body parts and inanimate objects. (I also remember the ’80s music video where Hynde plays a waitress.) 

But I learned the song title, naturally, from the latest opinion by Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. of the Court of Appeals. As my colleague Steve Lash reports in today’s paper, the case decided whether Harford County police unreasonably conducted a search-and-seizure of a car. Officers stopped the car in part because the driver, Garry Dennis Crosby Jr. was “slumped down” as he drove.

In his brief, Crosby said he was using a “Detroit Lean” while he was driving and pointed to a definition in Urban Dictionary: “driving with one hand on the wheel while slouched over to the right.”

Harrell, in a footnote, said an “independent endeavor to determine whether such a phenomenon exists” led to the Pretenders’ song, which he quoted:

Got motion, restrained emotion

I been driving, Detroit Leaning

No reason, just seems so pleasing

Gonna make you, make you, make you notice

“As the song predicts, Crosby’s ‘Detroit Leaning,’ if that is what he was doing, succeeded in getting him noticed,” Harrell concluded in his footnote.