Pennsylvania Man Arrested on Felony for Recording Cop Files Lawsuit

Carlos Miller

Pennsylvania Man Arrested on Felony for Recording Cop Files Lawsuit.

As far as police videos go, it was pretty uneventful; a vertical video showing a Pennsylvania police officer trying to resolve a neighborhood parking dispute between a resident and a school teacher who worked nearby.

Nobody was arrested. Nobody was beaten. Nobody was tasered or pepper sprayed. And nobody was shot and killed, which meant that nobody really cared.

The cop barely even raised his voice as he tried to persuade Michael Gratteri to move his motorcycle, which he had parked behind the teacher’s car, preventing her from leaving in order to teach her a lesson not to park in front of his home anymore, leaving no space for his wife to park.

But Ford City police officer Joshua Wilford said he was not aware he was being recorded, even though Gratteri had his cell phone clipped to his shirt and said he did allude to the fact he was recording.

In fact, Wilford said did not realize he had been recording until after Gratteri posted the video to Facebook. And only after somebody told him about it.

Rather than accept the fact that he did not have an expectation of privacy and just leave it at that, Wilford reached out to Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi.

And rather than explain to Wilford that he did not have an expectation of privacy – and therefore no grounds to make an arrest – Andreassi approved felony wiretapping charges against Gratteri.

So more than four weeks after the initial encounter, Wilford returned to Gratteri’s home and arrested him.

But Andreassi then withdrew the charges, knowing he had no case.

So now the ACLU is suing both Wilford and Andreassi on Gratteri’s behalf.

According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday:

On October 13, 2014, approximately one month after Officer Wilford’s interaction with Mr. Gratteri, Officer Wilford returned to Mr. Gratteri’s home with a Pennsylvania State Trooper to arrest Mr. Gratteri for two felony counts of Interception, Disclosure or Use of Wire, Electronic or Oral Communications [18 Pa.C.S. §5703 (A)(1)] and one count of misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct [18 Pa.C.S. §5503(A)(4)]. 8
Mr. Gratteri was handcuffed and placed in a police vehicle while his son, Michael, watched from across the street.
Michael was emotionally distraught and chased the police car down the street crying while seeing his father being driven away.
Mr. Gratteri was taken to the Magisterial District Court, where the district justice set bail on Mr. Gratteri’s case in the amount of $10,000.
Mr. Gratteri was then placed, handcuffed, in the police vehicle for a second time, but Officer Wilford failed to buckle Mr. Gratteri’s seatbelt.
Officer Wilford drove erratically to the Armstrong County Jail and did not stop to buckle Mr. Gratteri’s seatbelt even after Mr. Gratteri voiced several complaints about not being belted in for safety.
Upon arrival at the Armstrong County Jail, Mr. Gratteri was taken to the holding area around 4:00 p.m. He was strip-searched, fingerprinted, and had photos taken before being placed in a holding cell.
Mr. Gratteri spent approximately seven and a half hours in the Armstrong County Jail on said charges – until about 11:30 p.m. – before his bond was posted and processed and he was released.

According to CBS Pittsburgh:

“The wiretap law does not apply to public interactions with police,” said Christy Foreman, an attorney who has volunteered to represent Gratteri. The state law makes it a crime to record someone’s voice without their permission.
“The officer’s actions charging Gratteri were intended to punish him for posting the recording on Facebook,” Foreman said.

The ACLU said it is only seeking to recover his legal expenses and to educate those cops and prosecutors who still have not accepted the fact that wiretapping charges do not apply when there is no expectation of privacy.

https://youtu.be/-IgADf5dj2w

Comments (6)
No. 1-6
Robert Gantry
Robert Gantry

They ALWAYS retaliate. 6 months ago I called the police for the umpteenth time about the chronic, loud, disturbances and quarrels across the street, which had been going on for years and at all hours of the day and night. The officers had always refused to cite the offenders. So on this particular day, I insisted that they be cited for disturbing the peace and once again the officers had some lame excuse for not giving them a ticket. For the first time in my life I raised my voice in anger at not one but two police officers. The cops then implied that they would not issue a citation because I got angry. I went to the watch commander, I went to the city attorney, I began talking to other neighbors about a petition to put an end to it. Since then the one female officer has knocked on my door, trying to talk to my wife about lost cell phones and other bullschitt. She's trying to get friendly with my wife in order to get to me. Fortunately, my wife doesn't trust oinkers any more than I do. But the point is that cops do go after people in retaliation for just about ANYTHING, to include the slightest, smallest, most petty things. All the cops have to do is to have some reason, ANY reason to not like a person, and then they set out to destroy that person's life. I believe any and all law enforcement officers other than a duly elected sheriff or marshal and maybe a couple of deputies are unconstitutional. We need to get rid of cops by any means necessary.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

Exactly so, no insurance, they are NOT a cop. They even put on the uniform w/o valid insurance they are impersonating a police officer = go to jail

today_is_the_day
today_is_the_day

Anyone can arrest. It must stay that way. Insurance, personal and job/officer liability, should be necessary for employment with the government as a person paid to actively seek out unlawful activity, make arrests, and related tasks. The insurance should pay for and handle the defense for anything that arises out of this employment. No longer should a government attorney, or another attorney paid by the government, act on behalf of a cop. Lapse in insurance = suspension. Can still arrest, but not as a cop.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

Finally someone else sees the picture. Now, I am sure the insurance companies would want in on this - liability policies for officers. Just like doctors, attorneys, accountants, it needs to mandatory for anyone to work in LE - no insurance at the time of arrest, arrest is void with prejudice. And having worked in insurance, I guarantee the insurance companies would be a dozen more effective in policing the police that any IA has EVER been.

StevenThomas
StevenThomas

No one including the Cops never will learn until it hits them in their Pocketbook. The Cop needs to be personally on the hook where he could be forced into bankruptcy.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

Never mind just recovering expenses, unless these cops and their departments get a swift and hard bottom spanking in the financial rear, they will not change their behavior. The DA needs one in his wallet as well, but the lawyers do cover for each other, don't they? And what is on the Supreme Court that gave these jackals immunity, lawyers!


War on Photography

FEATURED
COMMUNITY