A Maryland sports bike rider faces five years in prison today for videotaping a plain clothes cop pointing a gun at him.
The rider is a father of two and an Air National Guardsman named Anthony Graber. More than a month ago, Graber was speeding near Exit 80 on the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, Interstate 95, in Harford County, Maryland. Harford County is midway between Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Graber was in the process of pulling over for a marked, Maryland State Police cruiser when he was cut off by another car. A man dressed in ordinary clothes excitedly emerged from the car brandishing what looks like .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol and ordered Graber off the bike. “I thought he was going to shoot me or steal my bike, Graber told WMAR in Baltimore yesterday.
After several seconds the man with the big gun identified himself as “State Police.” What actually happened is easy to apprehend because Graber was wearing a helmet mounted video camera at the time of the stop. A copy of that video is appended to this story.
Graber was cited for speeding and negligent driving and paid his fines and the case was closed. Eventually he posted the helmet cam video of the ride and the resulting stop on YouTube.
“I posted it on YouTube because my mom was worried about the legality of it” Graber told another Baltimore television station, WJZ, yesterday. “And, she was upset that a police officer pulled a firearm on me because I’m not a criminal.”
Some good citizens who saw the video were upset by it. State and local police were upset that Garber had posted the video where good citizens could see it. So, yesterday authorities punished him for that.
Running Wild The Charges
Police raided Graber’s home and seized four computers, two desk tops and two laptops, and his video camera. He was charged with reckless driving and he was also charged with, but he has not yet been arraigned on, one count of felony wiretapping for recording the plain clothes cop’s voice without that cop’s consent.
The public servant who brought these charges is State’s Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly (pictured above.) And, his email address is [email protected] just in case you would like to drop Cassilly a quick note to tell him what a heck of a job he is doing. Heck of a job.
At a press conference yesterday – oh yes, there was a press conference – Greg Stipley, a spokesman for the Maryland State Police, explained that the whole point of charging Graber and seizing his electronics was only to protect Maryland from illegal wiretapping. “He had been recording this trooper, audibly, without his consent” Stipley explained. “This information was taken to the State’s Attorney’s office in Hartford County.”
The charge had nothing to do with any embarrassing overreaction by the secret policeman because the alleged cop never did anything wrong. The plain clothes cop only drew his gun in the first place, Stipley also explained, because instead of just dumping his bike Graber threateningly backed his bike up two or three inches when he put down the kickstand, “creating a brief moment of fear for the trooper.”
The Trooper “held that gun at his side momentarily,” Stipley explained still more. “When he saw the situation was under control he quickly put it away. Never pointed it at that individual. And we think he acted appropriately.”