George Thompson, a 51-year-old citizen of Fall Rivers, Massachusetts, was sitting on his front porch when he noticed Officer Thomas Barboza sitting in a patrol car and having a heated, profane cell phone conversation. Thompson began recording the officer’s call using his own cell phone. When Barboza noticed, he approached Thompson.
Thompson freely admitted that he was filming Baboza–something that state law explicitly permits. But Barboza arrested him anyway.
“You f***ing welfare bum, I’m arresting you,” said Barboza, according to Thompson.
Thompson was charged with unlawful wiretapping and resisting arrest, and spent one night in jail.
Thompson said the footage from his cell phone would absolutely acquit him. Unfortunately, the footage was wiped from the phone at some unknown point in time, according to the police department.
Thompson said Officer Barboza confiscated his iPhone. A review of the video would likely clear up the issue of concealment, but Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine said the iPhone was erased while it was in an evidence room at the police station. They have issued a warrant to Apple Inc. to find out how the phone was reset.
“If a Fall River police officer erased that video, he’s fired and I would suspect the district attorney would take out charges,” Racine said. “If any other individual did that, we will take out felony charges.”
An iPhone can be wiped out remotely in the event it gets lost or stolen, but Thompson denied that he did so, saying he gave his password to police so officers could retrieve the video to use in his case.
“I wanted the police to see it, I wanted everybody in the city to see it,” Thompson said.