Criminal Charges for Filming Montgomery Co. (MD) Police
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Criminal Charges for Filming Montgomery Co. (MD) Police

December 10, 2019

Hey Everybody, this is Steve. I’m going to share a personal story abut how police use ill-conceived laws to punish people who assert their rights. A few weeks ago, I was in Maryland District Court facing two criminal charges from an incident that happened last June. And through the discovery process that’s where the prosecution shares their case evidence with the criminal defendant… Me I got bodycam footage from the two Montgomery County police officers who were on the scene. I already had video footage from recording the officers with my smartphone which was something that triggered them to issue at least one of those criminal citations. Let’s go to Officer Christopher Brown’s bodycam footage because he’s the officer who pulled me over. POLICE HORN OFC BROWN: Hey! OFC BROWN: Yo, I’m… You gotta stop. I’m pulling you over. BROWN: Cuz you ran the stop sign back there. You’re in the roadway, you gotta follow the rules of the road. Do you have ID? BROWN: Ok, that’s fine. STEVE: How can I help you? BROWN: I need to get your information for the citation. STEVE: Steve … Silverman BROWN: Steve with a V or PH? STEVE: With a V BROWN: Is that your full legal. Or is it Steven? STEVE: Did you see my back there before? BROWN: I did. STEVE: You saw me talking to the young man who was detained? So you’re giving me a ticket because of that. Because I stopped at that stop sign. BROWN: No. Everything here is being recorded. You did not stop at that stop sign before that. STEVE: That’s good. I’m glad it’s being recorded. BROWN: Yeh. You did not stop at the one before that. STEVE: I’m not going to tell you how to do your job. If you’re gonna penalize me for giving educational information to the young man. BROWN: Educate him if you want. I’m penalizing you for running a stop sign. BROWN: Just so we’re clear. And just so we’re clear, Officer Brown penalized me with a criminal citation for failure to stop at a stop sign while riding my bicycle in a quiet residential neighborhood. That happened moments after he spotted me talking to a young black man who Officer Brown and his partner released from the earlier detention I mentioned. So back to my detention with Officer Brown. He didn’t appreciate my refusal to show him my ID. But because I was detained, I gave him my full name, address, and date of birth. Those things were enough for him to check for outstanding warrants and for the county to mail me the citation. That should’ve been the end of the story. But the officers had other ideas. CAR DOOR SLAMS BROWN: Quick question. Do you just try to intimidate me because you don’t want me to give you a ticket or why? BROWN: Ok, alright. I didn’t think you would. I can’t speak for Officer Brown and his conception of intimidation. My best guess is that he mistook the assertion of my constitutional rights as disrespect for his authority. And as he wrote me up, I had this exchange with his partner, Corporal Jason Halko. CPL HALKO: Alright. HALKO: Alright. Well. You don’t have a right to record when you’re stopped and detained for a violation. HALKO: Oh, alright. On the legal merits, I’m right, and Corporal Halko is wrong. Every state and federal court to rule on this question has concluded that filming police in public is First Amendment-protected activity. If it were illegal to record him here, Corporal Halko could have given me a lawful order to stop. But he does this instead. STEVE: It’s a First Amendment right to record. HALKO: Oh, alright. You have a registration sticker a county registration sticker for your bicycle? STEVE: A registration sticker for my bicycle? You heard that right. In Montgomery County, MD, if you don’t register your bicycle with the county, police can give you a criminal citation, and they can arrest you and impound your bicycle! In my case, Officer Brown chose not to arrest me and Corporal Halko talked him out of impounding my bicycle. But they stuck me with criminal citations for failure to register my bicycle and for failure to stop at a stop sign. Soon after that event I got a summons from the State of Maryland to appear in court or face up to 10 days in jail. I didn’t want to wind up with a criminal record for this nonsense so I hired a fantastic attorney and went to court in a suit and tie. Lucky for me, both Officer Brown and Corporal Halko were absent that day! And when my attorney described the charges, the judge shook her head in disbelief, and the prosecutor chuckled as he dropped the charges. I’m very fortunate because I could afford to hire a great attorney. I didn’t need to find child care or risk losing my job to make my court date. But for many of the defendants I saw in court, that was not the situation. Here are my final thoughts for lawmakers, for police leaders, and for the rest of us. Lawmakers. Please stop passing new laws that give police more power to stop and arrest people. Because police will inevitably find creative ways to use those laws to harm people in ways you did not intend. And if you see that police are, for example, misusing mandatory bicycle registration laws repeal those damn laws! Police leaders, if you want your community to trust and support you please direct your officers not to punish people who engage in otherwise legal behavior. If — for example — officers punish someone who video records them you must discipline those officers to enforce the culture you want to see. And as for the rest of us we know that flexing our constitutional rights is not easy. It can cost you your time, your treasure, and in rare circumstances, your life. But we assert our rights, not merely because it’s a cost we bear to live in a free society. We do it because it’s what we do, and it’s who we are.

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  1. At least you didn’t get shot or beat up, seriously, this could have gone down much differently, just so we are clear

    Thanks a lot for informing about the right to record

  2. I’m subscribed to your channel. Your a good man. I’m so happy to see people knowing about law and their rights. I’ll be sure to keep watching. I believe all humans should be treated fairly by the laws of the land.

  3. Your work is commendable but dangerous. This cop forgot the oath that he took . He is breaking the law of the land and needs reeducated. It is ashame that you had to go through this.

  4. You said you had a First Amendment right to record, and his response was oh, all right. Almost as if he was saying oh you’re one of those guys, the people that think they have civil rights. LOL

  5. The only thing they got right was that bicyclists do have to follow the rules of the road but that charge seems to be born out of indignation of being challenged earlier however remotely that may have been. Maryland has long been a totalitarian state.

  6. blame the shitty law. why can you be charged with such ridiculous things in the first place. normally, cops wouldn't charge you with such crap but they see you acting up so they decide to charge you with whatever crap they can.

  7. One court did find that recording police is not protected by the 1st amendment. Fields v. City of Philadelphia. It was overturned by the circuit appeals court but police will still cite that case.

  8. In eldersburg md off 32 I stood by the McDonald's (across from Walmart) telling people there was a police inspection down the road and to take a right and go through the neighborhood to avoid it 👍

  9. That ticket is about as ridiculous and unwarranted as people getting in trouble for having a joint. Some cops have nothing better to do obviously.

  10. Im going to threaten you with a bench arrest warrant and fine you money to protect you, a grown man, from yourself.

  11. What an insane law. Imagine if everywhere you drove your car, you had to have it registered in that specific county. That is blatant overreach for this exact purpose: legalized bullying and tyranny. And that ungentleman's transparent evocation of the law once you asserted your rights demonstrates it. Outrageous.

  12. The officers involved in this video should be beyond fired, they should have their citizenship revoked for acting AGAINST the constitution, bill of rights, and declaration of independence.

  13. Funny I just got a temporary restraining order from the city And the ticket for harassment disorderly conduct on lawful use of a telephone there trying to destroy my life

  14. Police are enforcing corporate policy. Statutes are corporate by laws that only effect our all CAPS name straw man that was created with the birth certificate (which is a bond traded on the stock exchange), and not the living individual.

  15. You know Dude, I'm glad YOU had money for a "great" lawyer! I glad YOU had the good fortune of the no-show pork. I'm glad YOU had a judge who shook her head and I'm glad YOU had a prosecutor who had to drop all charges and save YOU from a criminal record. But you know Dude, rather than reflect on your calm measured lecture to the powers that be, I wonder what we'd have heard from you if the shoe was on the other foot? What if you'd been arrested, bike impounded, roughed up for resisting arrest, forced to stay in jail because you couldn't afford the high bail, lost your job, lost your case because you had no camera or it was "lost" , and you had a public defender who really wasn't, and you received time served, a permanent criminal record and lost your bike because the impound fee was $25 a day for the 90 days you spent in jail? Would you sing a different tune, more similar to those of us who have had our civil rights trampled, been beaten and screwed by these bastard tyrants? I wonder. My truth to power is: The system is broken, stop feeding it. FORK DA PORK.

  16. Imagine being such a fucking loser you think you're a hero for harassing another man for riding a bicycle and allegedly not stopping at a stop sign. How brave and noble. Come at him with a gun, badge, and immunity if you decide you "were afwaid" and want to murder him, and have the audacity to say he's "intimidating you" for standing up for his rights. This is all typical pig behavior too. They're all coward psychopaths that get high off victimizing people and causing conflict.

  17. Having grown up in Potomac MD since I was 5 in 1993, and now living in frederick md, all i can say is, you're lucky you didn't run into cobian, or a black cop named hill.

    I didn't even know Maryland had that stupid bike law! I wonder when it came into law. I had a bicycle when i was a kid in the early 90's and didn't know i could have gotten strung up for this!

  18. nothing will ever change with crooked cops until we activists strip them of their qualified immunity and then sue them personally. hitting them in their bank account is the only way they will have fear against the populace,
    QUALIFIED IMMUNITY!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. They did that to my sister in Tuscon, Az. She had no money to get a lawyer. I am in Ohio and shaking my head. When an adult gives children too many rules ; what do kids do? Disobey. So, stop plain out, being malicious cops. Remember God??

  20. You were almost a criminal Steve!
    Thank you so much for sharing this video with the public. Those officers had no idea who they were dealing with did they?

  21. Not law …. statute of a corporation that you dont work for. They have no jurisdiction. Full stop.

  22. I generally support police, what I don't support is abuse of their authority. They cleary punished you for helping the young man which is outrageous. Too bad you can't file a formal complaint against both officers for exactly what they did here.
    Police should be in favor of people knowing, and exercising their rights. Too bad many are not and have to be taught, whether legally or just better educated via their police academy.

  23. Montgomery county police got a really bad reputation because many of the officers who work there are bunch of ego maniacs.

    So glad to see you stand up to your rights. The officers who were involved in this retaliatory stop should be fired.

  24. There needs to be NATIONAL POLICE REFORM.
    I'm tired of this SH*T.
    I know Pres. Trump supports Police, but I support LAW & ORDER for both us and ESPECIALLY them–for BOTH sides, NOT just one!
    All they SEEM to need to appear as they really are in ATTITUDE is a RED ARM BAND and SWASTIKA.

  25. Funny how the guy with the gun, body armor, police cruiser, and back up feels intimidated against a polite guy on a bike.. Just another trashcan cop.. Let's give a nod to the partner that talked him out of the arrest..

  26. Talk about extortion, register a bicycle like a car and get in trouble if you don't, WTF is this world coming to when those cock pigs are stealing money from the people for bike registration. Such bs anything for a reserve note

  27. I don’t care how difficult, stressful, or dangerous a cop’s job is. I have absolutely no sympathy for any of them. I don’t condone shooting police but I understand why it happens.

  28. Officers must have integrity and fairness. Transparency and courtesy needs to be balanced with officer safety and the enforcement of laws. The paramilitary training police departments employ needs to be ended. The police work for the people not the other way around.

  29. Unfortunately, you still.think uniformed gang members are some how "needed" in one way or another. Another thing, they are Constitutionally PROTECTED rights as The Constitution grants no rights, Nonetheless, good work.

  30. Thanks Steve, as a young newly coined american citizen your videos are a great source of knowledge. I hope more educational videos are on the way!

  31. It's disgusting that cops can abuse citizens with senseless laws. Cops need to make a decision. are they with the people or against them. In the coming years it will be an important decision. If one is getting the crap beat out of him, would I come to his aid? Not anymore

  32. I completely agree it's a ridiculous police stop … but you said, they stopped you after they saw you talking to that black man.
    I'm sorry to say, (and I'm already expecting disagreement) that this makes you the racist and not the police. There was no reason to bring race into this post … although I'm sure you believe there is because you very probably accuse all white officers who stop or arrest black people of being racist. That's just NOT true.
    The social justice nonsense when it comes to 'all the racist white people' is REALLY played and REALLY false. The media is playing you.

  33. Do the police officers shown have children of their own, who happen to own bikes, who ride their bikes in the street, and whose bikes are not registered? What would a criminal offense do to their careers?
    Is it illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk? If so, do those officers' kids ride their bikes on the sidewalk?
    By what logic should lack of a bicycle registration should be a criminal offense? What would such an offense do to the careers of those officers?
    And finally, registration of a bicycle should cost no more than $15 for clerical costs, and a ticket for lacking same should cost same. Anything more than that is governmental power intended for abuse.

  34. Click bait title. You weren't charged for filming. I'm pretty certain you were only charged in retaliation by the officers, but I still don't think that justifies the title of the video. I am glad the cops didn't show up for court and your case was dismissed.

  35. There are several corrupt judges in Montgomery County, as long as these corrupt judges sit on the bench the corruption in police departments will continue. The Attorney General should be notified and if he/she does not take action contact Governor and Senator. If still no action broadcast the corruption all over Social media and local news.

  36. you should have just stopped at the stop sign like you and all the other asshole bikers in montgomery county are supposed to you.

  37. Some laws require bicycles to be registered (e.g., before residing in a city for more than 30 days), and some require the display of identifying imprints or publicly visible license plates. The main purpose is usually to facilitate the quick identification and return of stolen property, since bicycle theft is one of the most common crimes in many areas. Some laws also require the reporting of new and used bicycle sales.

  38. Mister, you rock!! That was pure punishment for informing the young man you spoke of. You are correct, they do destroy lives for nothing more than monies and ego. Three things are asked of “soldiers“.

    1. Be content with their wage.
    2. Not to falsify information.
    3. Not to be violent.

    SO SAD

  39. I got pull over in Rockville (Montgomery county)because I had a KUAT bike rack without bike 🤔,just got a warning but next time he will give a ticket or make sure I carry my bike or take it off from my truck

  40. Cops the world over are trash. Anyplace that demands registration of a friggin bike, is trash. Just another scheme to get money out of people. Sorry this happenwd to you. Stay strong and be well.

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