All charges dropped against man accused of recording cop

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — All charges made against a man who was arrested for recording a Fall River police officer on a public street were dropped on Friday.

George Thompson, 51, of Fall River, was arrested in January after an altercation with Officer Thomas Barboza. Barboza claimed Thompson was secretly recording him on a public street. Thompson admitted he was recording Barboza but argued he did not attempt to conceal his intentions.

“It’s phenomenal the way it ended,” Thomspon said outside court. “It never should have gotten this far.”

Thompson was cleared of all charges after a short hearing on Friday. Now, Officer Barboza is the one being disciplined.

“The officer has been disciplined for his conduct on the detail and has admitted his conduct was below professional standards,” Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine stated. “The Fall River Police Dept. has recognized that openly audio recording public officials, or any person, is legal,” he continued.

Thompson was taken into custody Jan. 6 and charged with violating the state’s wiretap statute and resisting arrest after the recording incident. Thompson said he recorded Barboza because the officer was talking on his cell phone and swearing while he was working a construction detail.

Thompson spent a night in jail after his initial arrest. He said Officer Barboza confiscated his iPhone, and Chief Racine said the iPhone was erased while it was in an evidence room at the police station.

“The Fall River police station has a cloud hanging over it right now,” Thompson said. “This isn’t over.”

Racine said the department has hired an independent investigative firm to determine how the media from the phone was erased.

“The second phase will include an investigation by Ken Bell & Associates; a private and external forensic investigation company that specializes in computer and cell phone forensic investigations,” Racine said in a statement. “Upon completion of their investigation, as well as the Office of Professional Standards investigation, the findings will be released to Mr. Thompson and the media.”

Tim White ( ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @white_tim

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