MIAMI - WPLG ABC Channel 10 in Miami reports on a woman who was stopped for a routine traffic stop and subsequently injured by a deputy for recording with her cell phone.
Brandy Berning was pulled over by Broward County Sheriff’s Lieutenant William O’Brien for driving in an HOV lane. She drew the ire of O’Brien when she revealed that she was recording the conversation.
Berning: Oh, I forgot to tell you I was recording our conversation.
O’Brien: I’m sorry?
Berning: I have to tell you I forgot to tell you I was recording our conversation.
O’Brien: Okay, well I have to tell you that you’ve just committed a felony.
Berning: Re… Okay.
O’Brien: Yea. Give me your phone.
It was then that she claims he crawled into the car to get the phone.
O’Brien: You are committing a felony. Hand me the phone.
Berning: No. I am not.
O’Brien: I know the law better than you, believe me.
According to Reporters Committee, a Freedom of the Press site:
Recording, disclosing, or endeavoring to disclose without the consent of all parties is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines, unless the interception is a first offense committed without any illegal purpose, and not for commercial gain. Fla. Stat. § 934.03(4)(a). In those circumstances, then, such an infraction is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Fla. Stat. § 934.03(4)(b).
Although courts are starting to rule that citizens do have a First Amendment right to record officers on duty in the performance of their job—so long as they do not interfere—police are still threatening and intimidating people across the country.
Berning was arrested and charged with traffic violations and resisting arrest and spent the night in jail. She was not charged with making an unlawful recording. The charges were subsequently dropped.
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