Adam "Ademo" Mueller and Pete Eyre, of the website CopBlock.org, drove down from New Hampshire to show their support for Thompson.
Thompson was shoved to the ground and arrested by Fall River Police Officer Thomas Barboza in January as he stood on his porch recording the officer with an iPhone. Thompson said he began recording Barboza because he was talking loudly on his cell phone and swearing while working a street detail. Thompson was charged with wiretapping and resisting arrest.
After Thompson was arrested, his phone was somehow reset to factory settings, erasing his video, while in police custody. In a report, two Fall River police detectives blamed Thompson, saying that he must have reset it using a cloud service. Thompson has denied deleting the video and said he wanted people to see it.
After Friday's court hearing, we attempted to speak with Assistant District Attorney Robert Kidd three times, but he refused to answer any questions.
Thompson, on the other hand, was talkative and stuck around the outside of the courthouse for some time to answer questions and criticize the Fall River Police Department for its handling of the case.
“I'm fighting for my rights. I'm fighting for the rights of everybody whether it's here in Fall River, or Boston, or California. We've got rights that are protected by the First Amendment,” Thompson said. “There's not gonna be a police officer or anyone else telling me I don't have that right.”
“Don't trust the cops,” Thompson said, after being asked what he learned from his ordeal. “The Fall River police station has a cloud hanging over it right now. As I've said, if something as minute as a video of a police officer acting a fool on the street can miraculously disappear, what other evidence has been tampered with in that police station?”
Almost immediately after the charges were dropped, the Fall River Police Department issued a press release saying that in the future, police officers should call a supervisor to investigate if they believe the wiretapping statute has been broken. The press release also stated that it would be preferable for people who violated the law to be summonsed, not arrested.
The press release did not admit that Thomas Barboza, the officer who arrested Thompson, was wrong nor did it indicate that he would face criminal charges or disciplinary action. Previously, Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine had told WPRI that he supported the decision to arrest Thompson and prosecute him for wiretapping.
The press release also said that the police chief had hired Ken Bell & Associates to examine Thompson's phone, which has still not been returned to him. The press release claims Ken Bell & Associates is a “private and external forensic company that specializes in computer and cell phone forensic investigations.”
After Thompson spoke with reporters on Friday, he paid a surprise visit to Fall River Mayor William Flanagan to ask him to open an independent investigation into the Fall River Police Department to determine who tampered with his phone.
Flanagan, who is the police chief's supervisor, refused to provide any oversight of the police. He said it was the job of the police chief to police his own department.
“I have full confidence in our police chief, Dan Racine. He's proven himself to be an outstanding police chief and he has the support of the entire community. In fact, if you go back and look at how he was selected as police chief, it was actually a community-wide effort that selected him. And if the police chief were to recommend a state police investigation into your case, I would support him,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan said he supported the way the police chief was handling Thompson's case even though had no idea what the facts of the case were.
“I have not reviewed Mr. Thompson's matter to form an opinion on it. The police chief is handling it,” Flanagan said. “The police chief is the police chief. He oversees the police department, so you gotta have confidence in his decisions.”
“I will speak with the police chief and see if he has any recommendations to me on what the next steps will be regarding Mr. Thompson's case,” Flanagan said.
Chief Racine previously told WPRI that he would take action once he found out who reset Thompson's phone. “If a Fall River police officer erased that video, he’s fired and I would suspect the district attorney would take out charges. If any other individual did that, we will take out felony charges,” he said.