State Passes Bill That Could Jail People for 30 Days for Filming the Police

Frequent readers of the Free Thought Project know that filming the cops is not a crime. Despite this being a widely known provision — held up with multiple court precedents — cops continue to violate the First Amendment protected right of citizens to film the police. Last month, the Arizona House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would criminalize filming cops on the job, dealing a massive blow to First Amendment rights. And this month, the Senate passed it.

It now moves to Governor Doug Ducey’s desk for signature, where it will become law.

Republican Representative John Kavanaugh, who is a former police officer, is the lead sponsor of the legislation. According to the bill, it is illegal “for a person to knowingly make a video recording of law enforcement activity, including the handling of an emotionally disturbed person, if the person does not have the permission of the law enforcement officer” and is within 8 feet of the cop.

Kavanaugh originally stipulated a 15 foot radius, however it was later amended after multiple objections. But for many, this is still too far.

As Valera Voce, points out, the law also classifies unlawful video recording of law enforcement activity as a petty offense, unless a person fails to comply with a verbal warning of a violation or has been previously convicted of a violation in which case an offense is a class 3 misdemeanor. A class 3 misdemeanor comes with a minimum of 30 days in jail. Finally, the bill explicitly declares that it “does not establish a right, or authorize any person, to make a video recording of a law enforcement officer.”

“It’s crazy thinking about that for a second. The video that led to the criminal conviction of the police officer who killed George Floyd would itself be a criminal act. And that makes no sense whatsoever,” attorney Dan Barr told FOX 10.

“We believe that this bill stacks the deck against the public check on officer misconduct,” Timothy Sparling, a lawyer and legislative advocate for Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week. Sparling argued that the bill leaves too much up to the discretion of the officers. “When officers have such wide discretion to determine, say, what is lawful conduct or what is unlawful conduct on the ground and that is not properly defined … it’s ultimately up to whatever the officer wants it to be,” Sparling said.

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65 Teens, Arrested, Shackled, Jailed Because Cops Found a Small Bag of Weed Outside of a Party

House parties among teenagers and young adults are a part of growing up. When kids experience freedom from their parents for the first time, they will often make poor choices and this is a part of experiencing life so one can learn. Poor choices that cause harm to others are certainly not acceptable but when young people are experimenting with substances and make choices which have no victims, they should never have to worry about their lives being ruined over it. Unfortunately, for 65 young people in Cartersville, Georgia, they had no say in the matter when cops arrested all of them — despite none of them making any poor choices.

The nightmare for these 65 teenagers and young folks started back in 2017 as they gathered at a home to celebrate the New Year. As is common on New Year’s Eve, firecrackers can be heard going off all around town. Thought none of the teens involved in this party were popping fireworks, police used it as a reason to enter the home, without a warrant, claiming they heard gun shots.

When police came to the door that night, they had no evidence of a crime being committed, nor did they have reasonable suspicion. Nevertheless, they barged into the legally rented Airbnb, paid for by 21-year-old Deja Heard, who was celebrating her 21st birthday that night.

Officers had no warrant as the shut down the entire party and searched everyone. The only evidence of a crime — which is not a crime at all — was claimed when police found a small bag of weed in the front yard.

Because no one wanted to go to jail over a plant, no one fessed up, or perhaps the person who dropped it, left the party. Regardless, the solution proposed by the officers that night was to arrest everyone and charge them all with possession of marijuana. And they did exactly that.

These teens and young adults were then hauled off to jail, booked into the Bartow County lockup and shackled — for a small bag of weed found outside on the ground.

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Families of Parkland Victims Awarded $127.5 Million for School Massacre Due to FBI Dishonesty and Negligence

The federal government awarded $127.5 million to 16 families impacted by the Parkland High School mass shooting in 2018.

The deadly shooting took place back on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Psychotic killer Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17 people and wounding at least 17 more.

The families accused the FBI of negligence in their lawsuit.

As The Gateway Pundit previously reported — The FBI admitted they did not follow protocol in investigating the violent threats posted online by Nikolas Cruz.

On Jan. 5, 2018, a person close to Florida school shooting suspect contacted the FBI tipline and provided info on the suspect’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”

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The Foilies 2022

Each year during Sunshine Week (March 13-19), The Foilies serve up tongue-in-cheek “awards” for government agencies and assorted institutions that stand in the way of access to information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and MuckRock combine forces to collect horror stories about Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state-level public records requests from journalists and transparency advocates across the United States and beyond. Our goal is to identify the most surreal document redactions, the most aggravating copy fees, the most outrageous retaliation attempts, and all the other ridicule-worthy attacks on the public’s right to know.

And every year since 2015, as we’re about to crown these dubious winners, something new comes to light that makes us consider stopping the presses.

As we were writing up this year’s faux awards, news broke that officials from the National Archives and Records Administration had to lug away boxes upon boxes of Trump administration records from Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s private resort. At best, it was an inappropriate move; at worst, a potential violation of laws governing the retention of presidential records and the handling of classified materials. And while Politico had reported that when Trump was still in the White House, he liked to tear up documents, we also just learned from journalist Maggie Haberman’s new book that staff claimed to find toilets clogged up with paper scraps, which were potentially torn-up government records. Trump has dismissed the allegations, of course. 

This was all too deliciously ironic considering how much Trump had raged about his opponent (and 2016 Foilies winner) Hillary Clinton’s practice of storing State Department communications on a private server. Is storing potentially classified correspondence on a personal email system any worse than hoarding top secret documents at a golf club? Is “acid washing” records, as Trump accused Clinton, any less farcical than flushing them down the john? 

Ultimately, we decided not to give Trump his seventh Foilie. Technically, he isn’t eligible: his presidential records won’t be subject to FOIA until he’s been out of office for five years (releasing classified records could take years, or decades, if ever).

Instead, we’re sticking with our original 16 winners, from federal agencies to small-town police departments to a couple of corporations, who are all shameworthy in their own rights and, at least metaphorically, have no problem tossing government transparency in the crapper.

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Judge Allows Former Deputy Accused of Raping 14-Year-Old Girl to Avoid Prison and Sex Offender Status

After striking a plea deal with prosecutors, a onetime Tennessee sheriff’s deputy who was accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl over a period of 20 months will serve no time in prison and does not have to register as a sex offender.

Brian O. Beck, 47, pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated assault on Monday, according to court records filed in Shelby County Court. That plea was part of a deal between Beck and prosecutors, a member of the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office confirmed to Law&Crime.

The judge in the case suspended Beck’s nominal four-year prison sentence and said the defendant would instead serve three years probation, a sentencing order provided to Law&Crime by the prosecutor’s office indicates. If Beck fails to live up to the terms of his probation, he could be incarcerated for the aforementioned four-year term, according to the probation order itself and a statement from the prosecutor’s office to a local television station. The order also requires Beck to serve 150 hours of community service, submit to random drug screening, and have no contact with the victim.

The judge’s order, in essence a perfunctory form document with boxes to check and a few blank lines to fill, offers but a glimpse into the reasoning behind the moves.

The document says “the defendant is not likely again to engage in a criminal course of conduct” — at least “to the satisfaction of the Court” — and that “the ends of justice and the welfare of society do not require that the Defendant shall presently suffer the penalty imposed by law by incarceration.”

Judge Lee Coffee signed off on the document.

Beck will also not have to register as a sex offender, according to the order.

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NYPD Police Union President Arrested for Stealing Over $1 Million from Fellow Cops in Lowlife Scheme

Nothing says “culture of corruption” quite like cops committing crimes against their fellow cops. And, perhaps nothing highlights this point better than one of the highest ranking cops in the country waging an elaborate scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from his fellow officers.

This week, Edward Mullins, the former President of the Sergeants Benevolent Association (“SBA”), the union that represents all current and former Sergeants of the New York City Police Department, was charged for fraudulently using union funds for personal gain.

On Wednesday, Mullins turned himself in to the FBI and was charged with one count of wire fraud in connection with his despicable scheme. Mullins’ scheme involved using police union funds to live a lavish lifestyle at the expense of his fellow officers.

After his arrest, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Edward Mullins, the former President of the SBA, abused his position of trust and authority to fund a lavish lifestyle that was paid for by the monthly dues of the thousands of hard-working Sergeants of the NYPD.

“Mullins submitted hundreds of phony expense reports to further his scheme, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the SBA.  This Office is committed to rooting out corruption at all levels of government, and that includes public officials like Mullins who use their positions of power to line their own pockets to the detriment of others.”

According to the Department of Justice, for nearly two decades, from 2002 until October 2021, Mullins served as President of the SBA. As president Mullins was responsible for for promoting the general welfare of the SBA’s membership. Instead of doing that, however, this top cop “orchestrated a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the SBA and its members.”

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An Off-Duty Cop Murdered His Ex-Wife. The California Highway Patrol Ignored the Red Flags.

When law-enforcement officials believe that someone has committed a crime, they often go to great lengths—and can be quite creative—in coming up with charges to file. Criminal codes are voluminous, and it’s common for prosecutors to pile up one charge after another as a way to keep someone potentially dangerous off the streets.

When the accused is a police officer, however, agencies typically find their hands tied. “Nothing to see here,” they say, “so let’s move along.” Their eagerness to protect their own colleagues from accountability can have deadly consequences. A recent lawsuit by the victim of a California Highway Patrol officer’s off-duty shooting brings the problem into view.

The case centers on Brad Wheat, a CHP lieutenant who operated out of the agency’s office in Amador County. On Aug. 3, 2018, Wheat took his CHP-issued service weapon and hollow-point ammunition to confront Philip “Trae” Debeaubien, the boyfriend of Wheat’s estranged wife, Mary. As he later confessed to a fellow officer, Wheat planned more than a verbal confrontation.

“I just learned this evening that Brad confided in an officer…tonight that he drove to a location where he thought his wife and her lover were last night to murder the lover and then commit suicide,” an officer explained in an email, as The Sacramento Bee reported. Fortunately, Debeaubien had left the house by the time that Wheat arrived.

Initially, Wheat’s colleagues convinced him to surrender his CHP firearm and other weapons and they reported it to superiors. Instead of treating this matter with the seriousness it deserved, or showing concern for the dangers that Debeaubien and Mary Wheat faced, CHP officials acted as if it were a case of an officer who had a rough day.

They essentially did nothing. “Faced with a confessed homicidal employee, the CHP conducted no criminal investigation of its own, notified no allied law enforcement agency or prosecutor’s office, and initiated no administrative process,” according to a pleading filed by Debeaubien in federal district court. “Nor did the CHP notify [the] plaintiff that he was the target of a murder-suicide plan that failed only because of a timely escape.”

You read that right—the agency seemed so uninterested in the safety of two potential murder victims that it didn’t even inform them about the planned attack. It sent Wheat to a therapist, who reportedly said he needed a good night’s sleep. It sent him on vacation for two weeks, let him return to work, and returned his firearm and ammunition—something CHP said he needed for his job.

You can probably guess what happened next. Two weeks later, Wheat took the same weapon and ammo and this time found his ex-wife and her boyfriend. He shot Debeaubien in the shoulder, the two struggled and Wheat—a trained CHP officer, after all—retrieved his dislodged weapon, shot to death his ex-wife, and then killed himself.

Now CHP says it has no responsibility for this tragic event and that its decisions did not endanger the plaintiff’s life. This much seems clear from court filings and depositions: CHP’s response centered on what it thought best for its own officer. Any concern about the dangers faced by those outside the agency seemed incidental, at best.

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Police Beating of Unconscious Trump Supporter Was ‘Objectively Reasonable,’ Department Rules

The beating of an unconscious Trump supporter by a DC Metropolitan Police Department officer on January 6 was deemed to be “objectively reasonable” after an investigation by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, The Epoch Times has learned.

The Internal Affairs investigation was opened in September 2021 based on a complaint filed by a Texas man who assembled video evidence of the officer striking an unconscious Rosanne Boyland with a steel baton and a large wooden stick at the entrance to the West Terrace tunnel at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Ga., was pinned under a pile of protesters who fled the tunnel when police deployed a crowd-control gas. After several minutes of being crushed by the weight of other fallen protesters, Boyland lost consciousness and stopped breathing, witnesses have said.

Boyland traveled to Washington D.C. that day to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally and hear then-President Donald Trump speak at the Ellipse. She became trapped in a crowd that sought entry to the Capitol through the West Terrace tunnel.

As Boyland lay unconscious on the ground DC Metro Police Officer Lila Morris repeatedly struck her with a steel baton and what appeared to be a wooden walking stick, according to a video recording.

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