Federal Court to Rule on Passengers Live Streaming Police During Traffic Stops

Yahoo News – Jalopnik

Cars have always been a minefield when it comes to privacy rights verses public safety, and now, two important questions are finally in front of a U.S. circuit court: Is live streaming protected in the same way as recording, and does the passenger in a stopped car have a First Amendment right to record or broadcast a stop?

These questions are now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit based on a lawsuit brought by Dijon Sharpe. Sharpe was riding in a car pulled over by Winterville, N.C., police in 2018. He began live streaming the traffic stop to Facebook Live when a Winterville Police Department officer told him to stop. The officer tried to grab Sharpe’s phone and threatening him with arrest if Sharpe didn’t surrender the phone to the officer.

Sharpe sued the police department, arguing that live streaming the interaction was important in order to show that the footage was not edited and to protect the footage from being deleted should the police seize his phone. The Winterville Police Department, however, argued that live streaming puts officers at risk by advertising to people associated with stopped drivers exactly where they are. Such live streams could lead to a crowd gathering or revenge from associates angry over police stops in general.

While the right to free speech is in the mix — and you definitely have the right to at least record a traffic stop — the Fourth Amendment argument is important too. Just where do passengers’ protection against unreasonable searches and seizures end and police officers’ reasonable need to control a traffic stop begin? From the Washington Post:

Lenese Herbert, an expert in policing and the constitution at Howard University School of Law, said the Supreme Court has given law enforcement great leeway when the First and Fourth amendments intersect.

“You would think combined they would create a super amendment. They have not,” she said. Instead, police can then argue that their actions were not about speech but controlling a possible crime scene and potential criminals: “Officers basically get to subvert the First Amendment by couching it in Fourth Amendment terms, and allow the court to undermine First Amendment rights.”


“There are no special protections for passengers” in a car, Herbert said. “The Supreme Court has made it very clear if you’re in a vehicle, you’ve got a Fourth Amendment right, but it’s a lesser right.”

Previous courts have upheld citizen’s right to record the police, but this is the first time the question of a passenger’s rights have been called into question. The decision could have reverberations for everyone’s rights while behind the wheel.


3 thoughts on “Federal Court to Rule on Passengers Live Streaming Police During Traffic Stops

  1. Right now we are allowing the gestapo to see that we are recording them , make it so they can go back to theirs is the only story and we will be recording you without your knowledge , don’t fcken play that game , you’ll lose no matter what the crooked courts say

  2. Why is this even a question? And who declared some tyrant in a black robe is the final arbiter of all things?

    1. In Canada as we fight to reach the critical mass necessary to exert our power in the Common Law to have these tyrants removed and the B.A.R. completely obliterated, they are known to us as maggots. Right now, what we are doing is bombarding their offices with thousands of emails and faxes asking them who contracted with them that We, the People, are their property. They know we are coming for them and we are bringing the police and the military, who are waking up to their fraud, to have them arrested, tried and hung for their crimes against all of us. We will eventually access our own public court houses and drag the maggots in the black robes out of there under warrant and arrest. They will be tried and properly disposed of by We, the People.

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