University of Maryland sophomore running back Wes Brown was arrested Wednesday for three charges: theft under $1,000, second-degree assault, and illegal use of wiretapping. Only one of the three accusations appears to have existed prior to his encounter with the police, the theft charge. The other two appear to stem from his encounter with the police, and the wiretapping charge is due to his recording of the police arresting him.
Testudo Times, a fan site for Maryland Terrapins lovers, provides some details:
University of Maryland police spokesperson Sgt. Aaron Davis said College Park police received a call from the Baltimore Police Department, asking for help in locating Brown. Davis said they found Brown Wednesday night on Knox Road, and said Brown assaulted a police officer before running away. Davis also said the wiretapping charge came from recording police officers with his cell phone without their knowledge. Davis declined to comment on why the Baltimore Police Department wanted Brown, saying that it is an open investigation.
Oddly, his bail was set only on the basis of the assault charge, not the theft and the wiretapping charge, and it’s not clear as yet what the state’s attorney will try to prosecute him for.
Maryland is one of the handful of states that has laws that require permission from both parties to record. But previous court rulings have determined that police on-duty do not have an expectation of privacy and the wiretapping law shouldn’t apply. That might explain why the prosecution isn’t pushing that charge forward as yet. It’s still tiresome that the police don’t know how the state’s recording rules work, or more likely don’t care.
In April, the Justice Department sent two letters to the U.S. District Court in Maryland endorsing the right of citizens to record on-duty police.
(Hat tip to former Reason editor Radley Balko)
UPDATE: The story has been updated to state that Brown was being sought for an interview in relation to a non-fatal shooting.