"Graber didn't get arrested until he posted that video on YouTube," Balko explained. "Once he posted it ... the state police raided his home -- came into his home early in the morning, guns drawn -- confiscated a bunch of computer equipment, held him and his parents at gunpoint, arrested him. He spent several nights in jail. He had felony charges hanging over his head until the case finally got to court."
Fortunately, a state judge threw out the charges and wrote a strong opinion:
"Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation."
He ended by asking, "Who watches the watchmen?" -- a question Plato raised in "The Republic." Good for the judge. But Balko points out that no one punished the authorities who abused their power.
"The prosecutor who charged him, the cops who raided him and arrested him -- they were all wrong about the law and did real harm to him, and none of them are going to suffer any consequences."
Most police officers told us that they're fine with cameras, and some were happy they were recorded when they were vindicated of misconduct charges thanks to a video made by a bystander. The cops who object tend to be problem cops.
That little phone with a camera is a good thing. Now it's even a weapon against tyranny.
But, Balko added, only if the laws "ensure that we can continue to use it that way."