Beau Davis, whom I’ve spoken with a few times in the past, recently announced that police in Greenfield, Massachusetts have charged him with “wiretapping” for reasons that are currently unknown to him.
Beau has worked with my friends Adam Mueller and Pete Eyre on their project Liberty On Tour. Last year, prior to starting Liberty On Tour, Adam and Pete were arrested by the Greenfield police and charged with wiretapping for recording themselves trying to bail a friend out of the Franklin County Jail. They thoroughly documented their arrest, court hearings, and other interactions with the Greenfield police at Cop Block and Liberty On Tour with blog posts, legal documents, and, most importantly, videos, some of which were made with Beau’s assistance.
It seems likely that Beau’s wiretapping charge has something to do with the work he did with Adam and Pete during their wiretapping ordeal.
Here’s how Beau described the charges on his new blog which he just launched to raise awareness about his case:
A few days ago, my parents in FL received a letter in the mail from the Trial Court of Massachusetts District Court Department, stating that I needed to be present in court in Greenfield, MA, alleging that I unlawfully wiretapped a member of the Greenfield Police Department on May 20, 2011. The charge is, as it is written in the letter, “WIRETAP, UNLAWFUL c272 §99(C)(1)”, which is a felony in Massachusetts. The charge was filed on August 11, 2011. It is August 21, 2011 and I am just now receiving the letter today from my parents. The date of the arraignment is September 7, 2011.
I still do not know how Greenfield acquired my parents address back home; I can only speculate at this point.
The court has not stated how I have allegedly committed this offense, so I have nothing to go on at the moment, other than speculation. Now, why Greenfield, MA is trying this again after they failed to convict my friends Pete Eyre and Ademo Freeman for the same “offense”, I do not know. This could be to save face or to try and further make an example of one who tries to hold public officials accountable for their actions. I do not understand their motives as I do not yet know who I’ve apparently hurt in the matter.
— Beau Davis, “The Letter That Came In The Mail,” 5 Years For Filming a Cop, August 21, 2011
As I’ve discussed on this blog numerous times before, the Massachusetts wiretapping statute only prohibits the creation of “secret” audio-recordings. Unless a prosecutor can show that Beau “secretly” recorded the police, (by, for instance, hiding a recording device in his pocket), then it’s unlikely that he will be convicted of wiretapping.
But even if Beau did openly record the police, it’s still likely that his charge will go to trial. When Adam and Pete were arrested for wiretapping, they held their cameras in plain sight and made it clear that they intended to record the police, but that didn’t stop Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Bengston from prosecuting them nor did it stop Judge William F. Mazanec III from refusing to dismiss their bogus charges.
As soon as more information about Beau’s case becomes available, I’ll post an update.