Civil Liberties

More Watching of the Watchers


Last week I interviewed a law enforcement official for a forthcoming article on recording the police. In arguing that it should be illegal for citizens to record on-duty cops, this official said he couldn't think of a single example where video taken by a citizen bystander showed a police officer to have lied on a police report. There are plenty of such incidents, of course (just browse Carlos Miller's website), but here's one from just this week:

A Fort Lauderdale police officer has resigned after an investigation into a potentially unlawful arrest was taped on video camera by the suspect's girlfriend.

Jeff Overcash turned in his badge Tuesday, according to the Broward New Times after giving a statement to the PD's internal affairs detectives.

Overcash probably saw the writing on the wall as the evidence was stacked against him in the arrest of 26-year-old Brennan Hamilton, who may have been a punk, but was far less of a jerk than Overcash in April.

Hamilton had the 'cuffs slapped on him on a night out in downtown Fort Lauderdale after he asked Overcash for his badge number after the two got into a little disagreement.

Hamilton's girlfriend whipped out her cell phone and started shooting video of the incident, which showed a cocky Overcash commentating on the arrest while ushering Hamilton to his patrol car.

Hamilton asks several times why he was being arrested and Overcash could only come up with, "I told you to get lost."

The police report, written by Overcash, charged Hamilton with resisting arrest and disorderly intoxication, although the video never shows the suspect struggling and he doesn't appear to be drunk.

Here's the video:

If this had happened in Illinois, Massachusetts, or Maryland, not only would Overcash still have his job, Hamilton's girlfriend could well be facing felony charges and prison time for shooting the video that ultimately held Overcash accountable.

Speaking of which, libertarian activists Pete Eyre and Adam Mueller were arrested this week for videotaping police officers in Greenfield, Massachusetts.