7.31.2012

Reporter Faces 21 Years After Airing Excessive Force Complaint

Ademo Mueller, reporter and founder of police accountability network CopBlock, is facing 21 years in prison after broadcasting a story of a relatively minor excessive force complaint against police by a high-school student.

In that incident, a police detective on duty at West High School in Manchester, New Hampshire, slammed a teenager's head into a cafeteria table after the teen muttered an expletive. The act was caught on a digital-video recording, by another student.



Three months later, the reporter was indicted on three felony counts of wiretapping stemming from his coverage of the high-school incident, which included calls to police and school officials seeking information. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison. (Unfortunately, Ademo is likely to be sentenced to the maximum if convicted, as he was in a seperate incident where he was sentnced to the maximum of 12-months in jail for resisting arrest, when in fact he did not resist arrest at all, and his right to a jury-trial was denied through a bureaucratic sleight-of-hand.)



Sorting through the page of legal-speak in the New Hampshire Public Justice statute, it seems that the wiretapping laws there break down to whether or not another party has reasonable expectation that their communications are not subject to interception. As public officials of course, they should have no such expectation, especially when being interviewed by a reporter calling for public accountability.

TITLE LVIII PUBLIC JUSTICE CHAPTER 570-A WIRETAPPING AND EAVESDROPPING

“A public official who is on duty and in a public space has no expectation of privacy, the First Circuit Court of Appeals has already ruled on this in Glik vs. Cunniffe. The person who should face consequences is the officer who threw that poor kid into a table during lunch at the school cafeteria, not the journalist who reported about it." ~Ian Freeman, co-host of Free-Talk Live Radio

That seems to sum it up pretty well, but of course this is not how these public officials see it. In fact, the officer in question from the original incident was back to work the next day and faced no disciplinary action whatsoever for his violent assault, while now this reporter is facing 21 years in prison for merely showing you what is happening in America's schools today. Not only the violence at the hands of police, but also the trampling of rights rather than the teaching of rights by school officials. What are our children actually being taught in school?

My personal opinion is that the officer/detective in question has no business being assigned to duty in a high-school with that temperament, and that his act was indeed an unprovoked act of violence. Certainly not the worst act of violence I have ever seen though. I would have been happy just to see him face a departmental fine, a demerit on his record, and most importantly would liked to have seen him re-assigned outside of a public school setting.

Outside of that relatively minor incident though, anyone with a shred of common sense can see that this reporter should not be facing any sort of legal penalty whatsoever for reporting on a public news event in a free country, even if one believes that the confrontational officer acted correctly. What sort of convoluted sense of justice must public officials have to even level these charges against the reporter in the first place, and then for a grand-jury to have to return on indictment on these charges? It seems quite clear that this case is not about justice at all, but rather an unfounded and malicious misuse of the criminal justice system by those who are threatened by Ademo Mueller's demands for fairness and accountability from our own public officials. The fact that he was charged at all only validates the very premise of anti-police activism in the first place.

Let us be clear though, pro-accountability is not necessarily anti-police. There are officers out there who have no problem at all being filmed, and carry out their duties with the integrity and skill we would expect from a public authority. Unfortunately, I could only find one such example in the law-enforcement-only commentary on the related article at PoliceOne.
"I welcome anyone to record me anytime." - Posted by jcboston69 on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 01:53 PM Pacific
The much more common theme there in the commentary is to make juvenile comments about prison-rape and celebrating the arrest. And then we have this blurb, which is actually pretty insightful as to the mindset all-too-common to law-enforcement.
"First off, there's no reasonable expectation of freedom for a minor in school..." -Posted by ponydude94 on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 02:34 PM Pacific 
In other words, this law-enforcement professional believes that there are people and places in this this country where the Constitution does not apply. That a child in school is, essentially, bound by the same standard as a convicted felon in a prison, rather than as a free citizen acquiring an education. Also note his attempted psychological ploy at deflection of the case at hand, with his use of the words "reasonable expectation" which were used in the article to describe the wiretapping statute. The commenter then goes on to say...
"...Second, it looks to me like resisting arrest for misdemeanor theft..." 
So here we see that this law-enforcement professional will twist the law and actually lie about what he saw in order to defend his fellow officer. For the crime of misdemeanor theft to be valid, you would first need a victim to corroborate such a charge. In other words, unless the boy's sister told the detective that her purse had been stolen, no such grounds for arrest existed. Secondly, even if such grounds did exist, I saw no resistance occur. The boy was sitting peacefully, made no threatening gestures of any kind, and was violently attacked by the detective without clear provocation or cause. The purse had already been returned, and the officer began to walk away, disengaging himself from the matter. This corroborates the account of the student, that he was attacked after he muttered an expletive when the principal told him he was being suspended, and that the utterance was in fact the only provocation for the sudden assault.

Finally, this law-enforcement official finishes his commentary on the story with this blurb...
...Third, the video caught none of the conversation between the arrestee and the detective, only from the d-wad filming. Therefore, any explanation at a later time is hearsay, as these self-righteous turds can ultimately narrate the event however they wish. Teenagers will lie to their dying grandmother if it got them out of doing the dishes. Let's get the detective's story.
Well yes, that is a good idea, let's go ahead and get the Detective's story...


At this time it is not known what the disposition of the teen's case is. One would hope that at the very least he was cleared of any wrongdoing, and that a civil suit against the department for wrongful arrest is proceeding.

All in all though, this story is not really about one fairly minor incident of one law-enforcement official overstepping his bounds a little with a wise-ass teenager. This story is about an open attack on the freedom of the press, the freedom of speech in this country. This is YOUR freedom that is on trial, not just the journalist himself. The precedent that will be set by this case will define the future of freedom in New Hampshire, and the nation.

Free Ademo: An Overview (Video Link)

Free Ademo Page

Journalist Striving for Accountability Faces Two Decades in Prison (UPDATES HERE)


Stay tuned for an additional article later on jury nullification and the role it may play in this trial!

Sadly, this is how the case was finally concluded:

Freedom of Press Now a Felony in America





 

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