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June 25th, 2011
10:19 PM ET

Busted After Recording Police: Uproar Over Rochester Woman's Arrest

UPDATE: CNN's affiliate in Rochester, New York, WROC, reports the Monroe County District Attorney dropped the charges against Emily Good. The City of Rochester has launched an internal investigation of Good's arrest and of an incident in which Rochester officers ticketed numerous supporters of Good while they were gathered for a meeting.

Emily Good is a 28-year-old community activist, concerned about racial profiling in her Rochester, New York neighborhood. When she started recording what looked like a police arrest in May, she was the one to get arrested. The full encounter was caught on her i-Pod camera. And this Monday, Good will be in a Monroe County courtroom, asking that the charge of obstruction of governmental administration be dropped. Good and her attorney, Stephanie Stare, spoke with CNN's Don Lemon exclusively about what happened and if a person can ever disobey a police order.

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soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Dustin

    Welcome to the police state. That cop should be fired.

    June 25, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  2. Thom

    It seems to me nowadays that plenty of police departments are getting caught because of the age of the internet. Just because they have a badge doesn't give them authority to stop our freedoms however we choose to communicate them. If they aren't doing something wrong who cares if they are being taped. It's when they go all bonkers, ala Rodney King, that they need to stop doing.

    June 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  3. Tyler Cheney

    This is exactly what police need to understand, they cannot arrest people whenever they want to. If someone is breaking the law they should state what law they are breaking, they should give a clear directive. The reason they didn't is because anyone can film police at any time. Reporters do it, the t.v. show Cops does it, and it is protected in the constitution. I hope the cop who arrested her loses pay and time on the job. The poor lady has to go through going to court and wasting her time for doing something that was perfectly legal, so the cop should have some time off without pay. Maybe then next time he would think before getting upset and thinking he can order people around and everyone must listen to everything he says. If what you are doing isn't against the law do not listen to the cops. Know your rights people.

    June 25, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  4. sophomorocat

    In this country we do not have to obey unlawful police commands on our own property in our pajamas and have a duty to document their activities. They do not rule us, we rule them. If the officer is too paranoid for such citizen activist monitoring he needs to get a really dangerous job like crab fishing.

    June 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  5. renee

    wow, they had no right to arrest her. the police just said he did not feel safe to cover himself, he knew did not want the lady to film him that's y he asked her to go in her house. I mean really, 3 cops are scared of one chick? Yeah I believe that hope she gets off!!

    June 25, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  6. rdt

    what happened to the american cops who where there to protect our freedoms??? these pany-waists scouts need to go back to their night watchman jobs. just ridiculous and yet another big waste of tax-payer money. are we in a police-state yet????

    June 26, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  7. max lewis

    I think there really needs to be some clarity on citizen's right to video police. As far as I am aware it is a citizen's absolute right to monitor a public servant performing his duty. This sort of arrest may scare people from collecting valuable evidence which would be more reliable that eye witness testimony.

    Police are always going to be a necessary and very important part of society. More than anything else, they keep us safe. However, helping to weed out the bad ones will only serve to enhance the public's trust and make them more effective.

    June 26, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  8. William Baker Jr

    So she reads an article and suddenly has a swift feeling to catch an injustice being done? She said herself that she saw the lights and went outside and started filming. How can she say that it's remotely close to racial profiling if she doesn't know whats going on? What if that man had warrants for his arrest? What if he had drugs? What if it was JUST a routine stop and they found alcohol on his breath? You can see in the beginning of the video that she was standing really close to the officers as they were conducting their investigation of the vehicle and NOT ONCE did they say that she could not film the stop. They asked her to go into her house because they did not feel safe with her standing behind them because she seemed like she was "anti-police" and also due to what she said before she started filming. So what is it she said to them before she turned on the camera? First she said she read an article, then in the video she states to the police that (yes we all have a right to stand in our yard) she thinks that she needed the fresh air? Ignorance is what that sounds like.

    June 26, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  9. LetsBeSerious

    I hope everyone knows that this woman has been repeatedly arrested before for staging incidents such as this. This is merely a manufactured event, motivated by politics.

    June 26, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  10. Phil

    As the lawyer stated, she was within her rights to video tape them. The police cannot, under any circumstance seize the video or your property, nor can they legally place you under arrest. This is a case of false imprisonment and the officer should be disciplined and or demoted as a result and be subject to retraining.

    She is fortunate this cop did not cross the line and physically abuse her.

    Stand up to your rights - question authority...you're allowed to do that. Remember... They work for you, not the other way around.

    June 26, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  11. Tom

    You can bet the charges will be dropped quickly. The fact that he asked her to go inside her house is not a lawful order. Coming onto her property without Probable Cause is a violation of her Constitutional Rights under the 4th Ammendment. She's going to get paid for this unlawful arrest.

    June 26, 2011 at 1:49 am |
  12. nomorebsyo

    This young lady needs to sue these cops and the rochester p.d. for clearly violating her rights and for abusing their authority! These cops (and all cops) need to remember we're in america not china...it's good she caught their illegal arrest of her on camera...another example of police abusing their badge and breaking the laws themselves...sue these clowns and the city should fire them before they cost the taxpayers even more money!!!

    June 26, 2011 at 4:51 am |
  13. Tony

    Since when did NY declare MARTIAL LAW ?!!!

    June 26, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  14. just saying....

    The officer failed in the line of duty. He lost public trust. He should be disciplined. That said, the woman IS guilty and likewise should be disciplined.

    June 26, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  15. TCheney

    I understand the desire for a person, a self-proclaimed activist, to record the exchange between officers and the public. It's interesting, it's uncommon, and you might find someone doing something they maybe shouldn't. I get that. My position, however, is that the officer gave a valid reason for his request and Emily should have at least attempted to honor the officer's request. Maybe instead of going inside the house she could have walked to her porch rather than standing in the middle of the yard.

    I am a police dispatcher and an intern with the DA's office through my university, so I have a unique perspective on matters such as these. When officers are busy dealing with a situation, having people lurk around them is very nerve-racking. No, Emily may not have been a true threat, but the officers are trained that everyone wants to kill them and prevent them from going home to their family's. A person standing in the middle of a yard would cause me, if I were an officer, to focus on them and would divide my attention from what may be the real threat – the person I was initially dealing with. The ultimate goal for an officer is to go home each night.

    Also, when an officer gives a command he is expected to make sure it is followed. Police officers cannot take 'no' for an answer; it's not because they are mean people or because they want to seem all-powerful, but because their main goal is to protect their own safety and that of the public. Once he told Emily to go back in her house, he could not just accept her not budging ... if she had attempted to move away, out of the middle of the yard, the officer probably would have said nothing else to her.

    In summation, Emily does have a right to access any part of her property. Also, the officers have a right to protect themselves. Emily may not have been a threat, but she caused the officer's attention to be siphoned from their initial subject, which is a safety issue. Both parties were in the right, and both were in the wrong. Call me biased, but I would have done as the officer asked because him going home each night is more important than me putting a camera in his face while he's working, and might in a potentially dangerous situation.

    June 26, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  16. terry Brown

    Police say they feared her for taking pictures with her Ipod, that's why they arrested her. They are either just using that as a way to bully citizens or they truly were afraid of this young lady standing in her PJ's filiming them. The people of Rochester are being protected by theses police. WOW.

    June 26, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  17. Dave Moritz

    This officer has no right to arrest this woman for video taping them durning the course of there dueties! You can legally video the police from your property or in a puplic setting as long as you are not in the street or to close as to interfear with the officers. I love how the officer uses the excuse that he doesn't feel safe with her standing behind him, as an excuse to get her out of the way because she is video taping them! I would have done the same thing! They are public servants and if they do not like it then they need to quit and find another line of work!

    June 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  18. CarmenSo

    Ahh land of the free. Where its against the law to stand in your front yard.

    June 26, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  19. rosehips

    Hooray Stephanie! You go girl! We need to encourage others to assert their rights and help prevent this from happening to other law-abiding citizens. Thank you!

    June 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  20. JLN

    Just a few short years ago, these cases didn't often come to light. After a few viral videos (some involving police at the front door claiming you can't record them on your own property in a one-party-conscent state), this issue is getting national attention. If you're the "write-your-congress" type, do it; if not, become one. A simple e-mail is all it takes.

    The police often cite "illegal wiretapping" – a law meant to protect communication channels over which one has reasonable expectation of privacy. We need to stand up against this obvious abuse of power. Police cruisers are nearly all outfitted with cameras. Banks and even WalMart have cameras facing public areas. If recording something occurring in a public space is "illegal wiretapping" then so are the police cameras and outside security cameras of many thousands of businesses.

    Further, as a government employee or contractor, you're required every year to agree to a policy of "no reasonable expectation of privacy" when using government telephones or computer systems. As the police are similar public servants, they should be held to the same expectation – while carrying out their duties in public spaces (or someone else's private property), they cannot expect privacy.

    Even further, any police officer caught knowingly giving an unlawful order and threatening (or carrying out) arrest should be given an instant ticket to jail. This gross violation of public trust (abusing power vested by the public) should carry a mandatory jail sentence and permanent barring from any future law-enforcement position anywhere in the country ever again. As officers of the law, they should be held to the highest standards – knowingly violating the law and abusing their power of arrest is unquestionably criminal and criminals should not be given a badge.

    June 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  21. Susan

    She deserves to be arrested and charged for interferring. It's night time and they have stopped a car, they don't know who she is etc. She should of went back into her house and watched from a window period. I hope they give her commujnity service as punishment. If the person who was stopped had caused issues and the woman had received injuries etc. she and all her family would of been screaming that the police had no controll over the man they stopped, and a lawsuit would be made on the police officers and the city.
    I personally, am tired of hearing about the race card,. If you actually listen to the news, who is killing each other in all the cities of America. Who fills the prision system more in America. Who calls gangs family. If the news people would stop giving people like her a podium.
    Americans no matter what their skin color needs to do is just WORK, take back all those jobs that is felt meanial from those whose cross the border or are not Americans.
    Not a cop or married to a cop, just a Proud American with Native Blood in my veins and who works for what she has in life.

    June 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  22. Shawn

    I'm on the side of the cops, she was asked to move away because it wasn't safe for her or the police, traffic stops are as dangerous as it is now, they have to watch over themselves and her. They didn't say stop taping, they said move back to your house. If the people involved in the traffic stop initiated an aggressive act, the police would have been in trouble for not keeping the public away from a dangerous situation.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  23. the_dude

    The people looking to record police are usually looking to start some trouble.

    June 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  24. Chips

    And where do most of the videos come from "World dangerous police chases" and stuff like that im guessing they should all be arrested too. I mean why her and not all?

    June 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  25. Terri Pinkston

    Not knowing this woman or what she may have/not done in the past I have to say I am actually split this one. My BF in the world is a cop and I have worried about her on a regular basis as she works in a VERY violent city. However, that being said, she was on her property and was not interfering with the investigation. Should she have gone inside, probably, she could have shot through her window or door when he said he was uncomfortable. I don't know if an I-Pod camera has a zoom feature. Do I feel that her arrest was justified, no. A ticket, a summons, maybe but arresting her was going to far.

    June 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  26. BJH

    When she is in an officer's face and the suspect pulls a weapon and she gets hurt she will have an entirely different perspective. She does not need to be close enough to the officer and suspect that it makes the officer uncomfortable to record the whole incident.

    June 28, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  27. Rational Voice

    Leaving politics and opinions aside for a moment.....the fact of the matter is that no one (contrary to the woman's atty's extremely bad advice) has the right to challenge police authority on the street. It is a long and well established legal precedent (in both statutes and case law) that the proper place for a citizen to challenge police authority is in the courtroom, exclusively. I repeat, the woman's attorney was flat WRONG. Please do not take her advice on this issue. She may simply be inexperienced or just naive, but either way following her advice that you can determine for yourself whether or not an officer's order is "lawful" will have only one consistent result....you WILL go to jail. It is a court's authority and perogative to make such judgments regarding the lawfulness of an officer's order, not yours.

    June 28, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  28. HeyZeus

    In a society that heralds free speech, and freedom of the press how can any governmental body justify a no-record clause of their police forces in a normal work situation? While I would agree that we should not be pulling out the camera during sensitive raids, the normal video-recording of a policeman doing his normal duties has to be a violation of Constitutionally guaranteed rights. Our forefathers are ashamed.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  29. Teraysah Harris

    If the residents of Monroe County caught glimpse of the assault, false arrest that took place on March 27, 2009...there would be just as much outrage. Word has it that the DOT camera footage and 911 tapes have been ERASED !!

    June 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  30. Teraysah Harris

    IF the officers are threatened by a camera, from someone filiming in their yard.....it's time to turn in the uniform and badge!!!

    June 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  31. Greg

    "...people that record the police are usually looking to start some trouble..."

    I see – and by "start some trouble" you mean helping to protect our rights from abuse? That is "trouble"? Well, then lets have as much trouble as possible, please.

    I think everyone should video tape police activities in public (and other activity in public they think might be a violation of someone's rights). In public, let everyone (not just police) act as if they are being video taped – if they do only what they are supposed to and not violate the rights of others, they have nothing to worry about.

    I believe the vast majority of police are good, law-abiding people and have no desire to violate the rights of the public. However, it has been shown repeatedly that some police do abuse their power and violate our rights. Video taping has caught them in the act before, and it is the best defense of those concerned with such abuse.

    This woman did nothing wrong, and hope she sues for enough money to ensure not only police in her locality, but everywhere, are afraid to illegally try to stop someone from recording them (so long as the person doing the recording is doing so within the bounds of their rights).

    June 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  32. John Leslie Myers IV

    Horrible! She's lucky they didn't taze her or "accidentally" shoot her when they "accidentally" grabbed their pistol instead of their tazer. Power corrupts and the little bit of power these idiots have is too much for most of them to handle. Their should be stricter hiring guidelines and psychiatric evaluations every six months for police officers. They deal with the worst of society and start to see everybody as they do criminals. My father was a police officer for 25 years and he can't even believe some of the things cops are doing today.

    June 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  33. Scott

    From my relatively few (less than 10) interactions with police officers during my lifetime, I've concluded that many are pretty decent people who do respect the Law and want to serve the public in a professional manner. They were cool and understood that they were more effective by building trust and mutual respect. However, I've come across several officers who definitely should not have been entrusted with the authority of the State to enforce the Law. They were immature, insecure, and egotistical in my opinion. These are the officers that need to be identified, evaluated, and dismissed. I do not believe they have the psychological makeup and character to be effective police officers. No amount of training will repair them, nor should taxpayers foot the bill to do so.

    It seems to me that there is a general attitude among cops to dissuade people from filming police activity. I believe this is because they do not want evidence to exist, which would be difficult for them to dispute, that shows them engaging in unprofessional, even illicit, conduct. In the Internet Age, it has become more difficult for police departments to whitewash the misconduct of their officers. Thus, intimidation, property confiscation/destruction, and physical abuse are used by cops to try to prevent or destroy the video and/or audio evidence.

    The jobs that police officers do can be very dangerous and stressful. But, they must be held to a very high standard because they wield power that can infringe on people's rights. We, the People, give them such power, and they should never forget it. They should, and I believe that they do, receive a high level of training to prepare them for the various types of situations and people that they might encounter. They should know the Law. There should be a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse-of-power issues. Too often have I seen reports of police violating people's rights and getting away with it. This must stop.

    I also think that officers themselves must step up and report bad cops. The tendency to "let things slide" only serves to erode public trust, which is not good for police forces overall. By eliminating the bad cops, the remaining officers will gain the confidence of society, which will in turn make their jobs easier and safer.

    June 28, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  34. dennis

    i don't see what the uproar is all about.
    the officer clearly told her to go inside her house because he did not feel safe.
    he NEVER told her she could not stop filming him.
    if she had followed his order to go inside her home, she wouldn't have gotten arrested.
    its for the safety for the officer as well as the people they are to protect.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  35. Jack

    Bottom line: this officer lost his composure and made a bad decision. Officers are surrounded by a crowd almost every time they make an arrest on the street, often times by dozens of people, and they are quite capable of performing their jobs without asking every bystander to "go in their homes". This officer "felt threatened" by a woman in her pajamas? This officer let the taping of his actions get under his skin and he responded in an unprofessional manner. This woman's past (she was not arrested for "doing the same" thing before – she has been arrested as an activist participating in an organized civil disobedience protest), is a moot point as it relates to this incident. She also never said that THIS was a case of racial profiling, only that she was aware of it happening in the city and wanted to tape this incident as it had the possibility of being such. The follow up to this that CNN didn't report is that a few days later, during a community meeting related to this incident, 4 RPD patrol cars rolled up and ticketed every car for being parked 1 inch to far from the curb! The Rochester Police Dept has always been a very professionally run department, but lately things have gotten out of control. This woman's case was thrown out of court last Monday and I'm sure the city of Rochester will be paying handsomely for the incompetence of this officer. It is too bad that the other 600+ officers of the RPD, most of whom do an excellent job, have to be smeared because of the actions of one.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  36. the stupidity burns

    People please go back and watch the video again. The officer never told her that she had to stop filiming, his order to her was to go back into her house. While he continues to make the point that he's the one who doesn't feel safe, it probably would have been better for him to point out that in her position standing there just feet away from the officers she herself was not safe. They were involved in a criminal arrest that didn't have anything to do with her other then it happened in front of her house. Does she have a RIGHT to be on her property? Yes. Does she have a NEED to be there right on top of the police when she could film it just as well from her doorway or the front window? No. She was not told to leave her property. She was not told to stop filming. She was told to go back inside which she refused to do. It was not an unreasonable order and it did not violate her rights in anyway.

    Yes the officer could have explained himself better, especially if he had pointed out the danger she was putting herself in by standing there at the edge of her property, but he was a little busy at the time with a subject in custody. She put herself in a dangerous position. It doesn't matter if it's a traffic stop in front of your house or a domestic argument at the neighbors, if there is police activity outside that you are not involved in your common sense should tell you that it is not safe for you to be out there interfering. And if an officer tells you to go inside you should listen and go back inside, not stand there and argue and say "I don't understand what you're telling me." When she started arguing with him she started causing a distraction from his duties, that's when she started obstructing. The filming is only coincidental and has nothing to do with why she was charged.

    June 30, 2011 at 5:51 am |
  37. rpdsuks

    CNN should show how the officers a couple days later went to her house and used a ruler to find cars parking over 12 inches from the curb so they could ticket them. Its all about abusing their power.
    And what first was a traffic stop of a black guy, they now say wasn't a traffic stop, they now say it was an investigation. They searched the black people and the car with-out a search warrant and then released them. This is normal in ROchester, they stop and search blacks for no reason. They said he was a "known gang member", even if that's was true, WHO knows this and does that mean he has NO rights and may be searched at any times?

    July 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  38. rpdsuks

    I guess all of us scary city residents should stay inside our houses when the police are around, all of our city police officers are whites from the suburbs and they are scared of us city folk.

    July 2, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  39. Lance Yourdan

    Is this the new catch and release program.

    This just shows that our laws need to change and make Police and City Officials responsible.

    This woman should be able to sue the city and police department.

    Police in danger is absolutely not an excuse for what happened.

    The Police Officer needs to be fired and sued.

    And, she in no way interfered with what was happening.

    I thought the Police were supposed to be public servants, after that show of power why would I go to the Police for anything. What next if you get mugged and report it, you can go to jail for reporting it.

    If a man breaks into your home and injures himself he can sue the homeowner.

    Welcome to Communism 101. Just don't forget to turn out the lights.

    July 2, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  40. Leslie

    Recently, our 28 year old surgery resident daughter was handcuffed so tightly that her hands became numb–Why? She ran a neighborhood Stop sign (30 mph) at 4am trying to get to the hospital. There was no inappropriate behavior from our daughter (police cam present) and no explanation as to why she was being handcuffed. This is out of control, and if her 14 years of hard work and education had gone down the drain due to nerve or hand injury, I would have never forgiven them. Where is common sense and the Police's respect for people? I have always respected–and taught my children-to respect the Police and be grateful for their protection. I'm at a loss.

    July 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  41. cindy

    Police are out of control and nobody is doing anything about it.
    There was a 17 african american girl who was shot twice by Lansing police officers an killed for brandishing a steak knife, they shot her once in the head an in the abdomen, I can not believe they couldn't tasser her? Oh and there were no witnesses an the cops were told they were in the right, while a mother weeps for her MURDERED daughter. Something has to be done
    I wish CNN would cover more on police brutality

    July 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  42. doug johnson

    Shame on the Rochester police Dept. and for Shame on Mike Mazzeo your lack of discipline and truth is the reason behind the police backlash and threats. If your police dept had done the right thing to begin with there would be no backlash or very little. You reap what you sow sir. try doing the right thing and the truth for a change of pace you will be surprised at how well it works. Your police retaliation shows your lack honor and evreyone saw it on national tv. Police bully. I loved the rulers it realy showed your lack of dignity and honor... I suspect that a judge will throw out those parking tickets. Don Lemon I love you and your good works please keep following this case till the end.

    July 3, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  43. Terre

    Wow! Shocked to see people defending the cops. They are out employees, not our bosses.

    July 3, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  44. Biggggggg Ed

    It's good that the Rochester police decided to drop the charges against her. Recording what the police do and how they do is should not be a crime. Except in Nazi Germany.

    July 4, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  45. Chris

    I served as a Police Officer in Ohio for 12 years. If this happened in Ohio, the officers would
    have been fired, and the lady would be in negotiations witht he city as to how much is needed
    to settle this case.

    July 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  46. joseph

    i hope more americans start videotaping police actions. the police are supposed to be for the public. that makes them public people.

    July 16, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  47. Justin

    This has to be a huge distraction for police. Can you imagine being at your job with someone holding a camera over your shoulder. I believe cops should have the right to a safe and comfortable distance from bystanders. These people are just trying to stir up shit and get their face in the news. Its like a little kid holding a finger in your face saying "Im not touching you". Everyone wants to hate on police officers until they need one.

    July 17, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  48. Carolyn

    Big Brother is not only watching you, he is also arresting you!! Wake up people. We are living in dangerous times. Every day our privacy, our rights and our freedoms are disappearing. The local police are turning in a gang of bullies who think they can get away with anything. I am so sick of the way they try to act as though they are concerned for their safety every time they get stupid and arrest someone for standing up to them or questioning their actions. These guys are not God and need to get off their power trip. Hey, I respect the mostly good cops who are just doing their job but it seems like everyday there are more and more videotapes of rogue police officers. Scared? You bet I am! It seems as though the police have forgotten that they are servants of the people.

    July 17, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  49. eric

    everybody should carry a weapone when dealing with pig cops... train you children to run a hide when they see a fat cop.... I have no respect for the creeps.... I hope she files a lawsuite againt the pigs....

    March 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
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