Police in Rochester, New York, are coming under scrutiny and criticism after arrested a woman for videotaping a traffic stop while standing in her front yard.
Emily Good, 28, saw the stop in front of her house on May 12, came outside and began making a video. Police already had the driver in custody when one of the officers noticed Good and asked her to go inside.
“I’m going to stand in my yard, if that’s OK,” Good said.
She and the officer, Mario Masic, had a quick exchange about whether she was on the sidewalk, presumably city property, or in the yard, her private property.
“We don’t feel safe with you standing right behind us…,” the officer told her.
“It’s my right to stand in my yard….”
“You’re not listening to our orders right now,” the officer said, and the situation went downhill from there.
Today, Good’s attorney, Stephanie Stare, an assistant public defender, will ask the City Court in Rochester to dismiss the charge of obstructing governmental administration, second degree.
The judge and attorneys can expect a lot of interest in the ruling, as the Good’s video, posted on YouTube, has generated attention as the latest test of the limits of police authority in a public setting.
What makes Good’s case unusual is that while she was recording police work on a public street, she was on private property — her own.
Good told the Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester’s daily newspaper, that that she went outside to document possible racial profiling by police in the city’s 19th Ward. “I see it all of the time,” she said.
She also said she was stunned by her arrest and by all the attention. “It was outrageous and I still kind of don’t believe it,” she told Gary McLendon of the Democrat and Chronicle. “This is still a little bit of numbing shock, this entire situation.”
The head of the police union in Rochester, Michael Mazzeo, has said he thinks Good is biased against police. She denies it.
“I’m really passionate about trying to make the world a more just place, so I follow a lot of issues…,” Good told the newspaper. “I have never agitated directly against the police. I wouldn’t say I’m an activist against the police at all.”
Now there are allegations that police officers in Rochester are hassling Good’s friends and supporters in retaliation. When the group met Thursday, a small number of Rochester officers were outside, using a ruler to determine if their cars were appropriately parked.
“I want the people of Rochester to see this is where their hard-earned taxpayer money is going,” said Davey Vara, who got a ticket for parking too far from the curb.
Vara videotaped the police-and-parked-cars incident. That video is posted on YouTube, too.