Four Years After Busting a Guy for Recording an Arrest, Boston Police Admit They Should Not Have Done That


More than four years after arresting Simon Glik for using his cell phone to record another man's arrest, the Boston Police Department has admitted the officers who were involved used "unreasonable judgment." That conclusion, which contradicts the position the department has taken since 2007, comes five months after a federal appeals court ruled that Glik had a First Amendment right to record the arrest on the Boston Common, which he did because he thought the police were using excessive force. Superintendent Kenneth Fong, superintendent of the department's Bureau of Professional Standards, revealed the reversal in a letter to Glik last Thursday. The Boston Globe reports that the officers, Sergeant Detective John Cunniffe and Officer Peter Savalis, "face discipline ranging from an oral reprimand to suspension."

Sarah Wunsch, acting legal director of the Massachusetts ACLU, which helped Glik with his federal lawsuit against the department, tells Ars Technica "they're hanging the individual officers out to dry." Glik argues that the city failed to properly train Cunniffe and Savalis, and until now the city has insisted the officers acted reasonably, even though the charges against Glik, including an alleged violation of the state wiretap law, were dropped or dismissed. "Mr. Glik did not articulate a violation of law or the department's rules and regulations by an officer," said a February 2008 memo from the Internal Affairs Division. "Mr. Glik was advised that the proper forum for this matter was with the courts." Glik, an immigration attorney, tells the Globe:

As far as I knew my complaint was summarily dismissed….I was basically laughed out of the building….From what I understand, it takes filing a federal lawsuit in order for internal affairs to review a complaint.

I noted Glik's case in a September column about prosecuting people for recording public officials. Radley Balko reported from the front lines of "The War on Cameras" in the January 2011 issue of Reason. has covered the issue as well:

[Thanks to Ron Steiner for the tip.]


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  1. The police are the bodyguards of the Top 1% and nothing more.

    “To Protect and Serve” should be changed to “To Repress and Rule”.

    1. Great, so once we eliminate the 1% we can have bodyguards for the 99% beat up people instead

    2. Dude, you’re supposed to type “Fist!”

  2. The Boston Globe reports that the officers, Sergeant Detective John Cunniffe and Officer Peter Savalis, “face discipline ranging from an oral reprimand to suspension.”

    Why do I have a feeling it’s going to be a lot closer to the former?

    1. Real accountability isn’t applied to cops in so many places, you can be sure it won’t be in Massachusetts.

    2. I believe he meant to say
      “face discipline ranging from oral sex to time off with pay.”

  3. Mr. Glik did not articulate a violation of law or the department’s rules and regulations by an officer,”

    It sounds like excessive force is not against the department’s rules and regulations.

    And why are these going off as First Amendment cases? They should be due process cases, where the police are trying to forcibly repress evidence.

    1. Try both. They should see the BPD into bankruptcy.

      1. *sue

      2. Whatever works.

        I’d like to see these cases go down as obstruction of justice, with charges, myself.

    2. Look. It’s a police officer’s job to use force. They know how much to use because they have gone through training.

      How can you know what is excessive and what is not excessive if it’s not your job and you haven’t been through the training?

      Only a cop can judge what is excessive and what is not, and since every policeman is a trained professional, they can be trusted to know the difference.

      By the way, do you have any outstanding warrants? I don’t believe you. Show me some ID. Are you carrying any contraband or weapons? I don’t believe you. Your shirt isn’t tucked in and that’s probable cause for a search.
      Fine. You can go now. But I’ve got my eye on you. I’ll get you sooner or later.

      1. You missed “On the ground, punk.” and “Stop Resisting.”

        1. “And nothing else happened.”

  4. “unreasonable judgment.” ; I guess this one is “unreasonable leakage

    1. This sounds utterly ridiculous, if the court allows such nonsense to proceed these troopers deserve $$$$ when the case loses.
      However, if the story is true, which I highly doubt, there needs to be criminal charges and jail time.


      Wow — unexpected

    2. Very little can make my blood pressure rise and my head explode as quickly as reading the comments on Police One.

    3. And of course, entirely predictably, there’s this:

      Troopers had filed a motion to dismiss, arguing Madison’s claims were barred by “sovereign immunity,” a provision in Pennsylvania law that allows certain conduct by law enforcement officials if done “within the scope of employment.”

      Yeah, it’s within our scope of employment to pepper spray her while handcuffed, throw her in the snow and throw water on her.

      I really do have to wonder about the whole allegation that they peed on her, though. If she was indeed drunk and blacked out, it would certainly seem possible she peed on herself.

      1. Pee on one’s own head?:

        1. I guess that may be possible with men but not for a female

        2. Where does it say she had urine on her head?

          (Hint: it doesn’t.)

          She said that she blacked out and that when she came to, she smelled urine on her. “She believes that while she was unconscious, one or more of the defendants urinated on her,” the judge’s memo states.

          Nothing about it being on her head.

          1. I’ve read a dozen stories on the case, and she does say it was in her hair, and she had not urinated in her own pants

  5. “Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting ‘the free discussion of governmental affairs,’ ” the judges wrote in their unanimous decision. “This is particularly true of law enforcement officials, who are granted substantial discretion that may be misused to deprive individuals of their liberties.”

    Those judges are misinformed. I have it on good authority that law enforcement have no powers and privileges special from those of ordinary citizens.

    1. That’s the sort of people I’d like to see on the Supreme Court.

  6. Feck! Got bacon?

  7. Oral reprimand? Are they going to contract it to a dominatrix, or do they have one in house?

    1. if by “contract it to a dominatrix” you mean “bust the nearest hooker, then say you’ll let her off for a BJ, and THEN YOU BOOK HER ANYWAY, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”, then, yes.

  8. Jacob, have you covered this story?…..ty-in.html

  9. nutpunch wednesday here on H&R

  10. Speaking of Police One, check out the first comment on this story:

    Does anyone know, was the officer disciplined AFTER this showed up on youtube or before? Would he have been disciplined had the chief known about the language used but no video existed?

    IOW, “Hey, it would have been better if there was no video of it, because then he could have lied about it and gotten away with it. Damn all those modern video cell phones!”

    Or maybe argument is that the chief had to discipline the cop only because the video went public and he had to save face. If not for the video, the cheif would have allowed the cop to just bury the issue.

    1. Here’s the one about the Florida State Trooper who pulled over and handcuffed the Miami cop because he was driving at 120 mph and wouldn’t stop for her even though she had her lights and sirens going for 10 miles or so.

      The comments there also are quite telling about some of our nation’s “finest.” Griping about what a bitch the Trooper is (evidently because she’s a woman), making snide remarks about “any guess as to what time of the month it was?” (microaggression!).

      To their credit, there are some who say she did the right thing and the Miami cop was way out of line, but there also are plenty who are basically saying, “aw, jeez, what a ball-breaker, she should have let him go for ‘professional courtesy’.”

      1. Ahh, “professional courtesy” – the common LE practice that gives the lie to the claim that officers are simply doing what is required of them by statute.

      2. That happened about the time I took a trip to FL. The thing I found funny was the tit for tat shit that started going on between the two departments.…..320866988/

        1. I was reading about that as well. The best part is, all either department had to do to end it was to just stop breaking the law.

          But I suppose that’s too much to ask from those sworn (and paid) to uphold it.

      3. This happened in my backyard. I live in Broward County. There’s been frequent update articles in local dailies and local-oriented news websites, and the comments which support the Miami cop rather than the Trooper make me want to slap Dunphy, even though normally I got nothing against Dunphy, and he wasn’t even involved.

        In fact, let me make that clear: This is me reacting with irrational rage to the sheer balls of the folks supporting the Miami cop. Dunphy, I apologize to you, therefore. 🙂

  11. Considering the topic of this post, i feel a mention of Carlos Millers blog would have been mandatory:

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