A man in San Bernadino was visiting the police station to file a report. He was displeased with how the receptionist and deputy were handling his case, so he started to record the encounter in case he would need evidence of the way he was treated later on. He probably didn't expect to catch something as serious as what came next, though.
It's one thing for a police officer to be frustrated with a citizen. In a perfect world, all officers would set admirable examples for their community, but policemen are regular people who sometimes lose their patience.
This, however, was far more serious than a simple case of frustrated impatience. This officer threatened to fabricate charges against a citizen who was doing nothing wrong except maybe being an persistent inconvenience. The officer was shamelessly threatening to unlawfully, unjustly compromise this man's basic right to freedom.
By the way...
Did you catch the bit where the police officer said that it was illegal for the man to record him "without my knowledge?" According to CriminalDefenseLawyer.com, that's not necessarily true for everyone. One exception to the Federal Wiretap Act, which makes it illegal to secretly record conversations that people should reasonably expect to be private, is that it's legal if at least one person involved in the conversation consents to the recording.
"In practice, this means that recording a conversation is legal if the person making the recording is a party to the conversation (and, therefore, consents to the recording)."
However, in this case, the police officer may have been correct. California has a state law which adds additional restrictions to the regulations set in place by the Wiretap Act.
"In [California], no person may record a private communication without the consent of every party to that communication. Thus, no surreptitious recording is allowed (with exceptions for law enforcement officials who have obtained warrants)."
So, it's unclear if it really was against the law for that man to record the police officer in that specific scenario. Is there a reasonable expectation of privacy in that scenario? Could that man's recording - which was definitely in his hand in view of the officer - have been considered "secret" or "surreptitious?" Unfortunately, we're not lawyers, so we don't know!
Although, we do know that in the news report above, the journalist states that the recording was allowed.
Either way, it's important to know what rights you do and don't have in the state where you live.