Could Recording A Police Encounter in Florida Become A Crime? Court Ruling Ignites Questions

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In 2009, Tasha Ford recorded an encounter between a police officer and her son.

The Boynton Beach mother had been called to a local movie theater after officers arrested her son for allegedly sneaking in.

Ford took out her phone and recorded the whole encounter -- nearly 15 minutes of video.

Footage shows Ford and the officer going back and forth between what happened. An officer told her she couldn't legally record, and Ford was arrested for obstruction.

After years of challenging the arrest in the courts, a three-judge panel voted 3-1 to uphold it.

"Officers made numerous requests to the [mother] to stop recording them, which she ignored. The plaintiff was confrontational in her approach and refused to comply with the officers' instructions," the Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal wrote.

Ford's lawyer disagrees, saying the ruling could set a precedent that recording police could get you arrested.

"[...] Basically arrested for being a concerned mother and for filming the police which is her first amendment right," the lawyer said.

The decision comes just weeks after a jury convicted the officer who killed George Floyd.

The Floyd case is the first thing that came to mind for Daniella Pierre, president of the South Florida NAACP.

"But for someone taking out their cell phone to record the incident— is what contributed to us getting a verdict that rendered guilty," she said.

Pierre said Friday's decision is disturbing.

"You get a victory over here and then you have three other cases that you still have to fight and prove just to kind of get maybe the same outcome or even a better one," she said.

The Boynton Beach Police Department said it is pleased with the court's decision and confirms their officers acted within the law.

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