The Dangerous Business of Photographing Cops

Flickr/ photographer padawan *(xava du)

Jack Bouboushian
Courthouse News

A federal judge refused to issue a restraining order for a man who says Boston police routinely persecute citizens who photograph cops in public, allegedly in violation of wiretap law, but the lawsuit can proceed in its entirety.

Max Strahan claimed to have been taking pictures of a crane truck and construction crew near Boston Commons in August 2008 when out-of-uniform Boston Police Department officer Kenisha Stewart ordered him to stop.

Strahan said he may have inadvertently snapped a picture of Stewart, and she ordered him to delete images of her from his digital camera because it is a violation of the wiretap law to photograph police officers without their consent.

But Strahan said he would not comply until Stewart could prove she was actually a police officer by showing a badge or gun. Since Stewart allegedly ignored Strahan’s questions, he said threatened to file a complaint with Internal Affairs, took more pictures of her to prove she was not in uniform and fled to a nearby pizzeria.

“Stewart screamed at him that she was going to get those pictures,” according to the court’s summary of his complaint.

Stewart caught up with the photographer while he was eating two slices of pizza, so he fled again and was eventually apprehended after another BPD employee allegedly “rammed him with his bicycle.”

As more police arrived on the scene, Strahan said the group threatened him with beatings and arrest unless he destroyed the photographs of Stewart.

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