The Obama administration has told a federal judge that Baltimore police officers violated the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments by seizing a man's cell phone and deleting its contents. The deletions were allegedly in retaliation for the man's use of the phone to record the officers' arrest of his friend. According to the Maryland ACLU, this is the first time the Obama Justice Department has weighed in on whether the Constitution protects citizens' right to record the actions of police with their cell phones.
Christopher Sharp was attending the Preakness horse race in May 2010 with friends. Sharp, who alleges that the police beat his friend before arresting her, pulled out his cell phone to document the encounter. According to Sharp, several officers approached him and repeatedly demanded that he surrender his cell phone so they could make a copy of the video to use as evidence.