George Thompson, the Fall River resident who was arrested earlier this year for video-recording a police officer, has obtained a court order requiring the police to return his iPhone. "I went into court today, and filed the paperwork myself, sat around half the day, and got a court order for the immediate release of my phone," Thompson told me yesterday.
Thompson will be serving the court order to the police department this morning. Maya from The Bay State Examiner will be video-recording it.
Thompson said he wants to see if his video -- which was erased while his phone was in police custody -- can be restored, but that he doesn't think doing so will be necessary for a civil case against the police.
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 his 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.
On April 11, Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Robert Kidd agreed to drop all of the charges against Thompson.
Even though the charges were dropped, the Fall River Police Department refused to return Thompson's phone. Almost immediately after the charges were dropped, the Fall River Police Department issued a press release saying that the department had hired Ken Bell & Associates to examine Thompson's phone. The press release claims Ken Bell & Associates is a “private and external forensic company that specializes in computer and cell phone forensic investigations.”
Very little information is available about Ken Bell & Associates, which has an incomplete-looking website with no contact information. The Fall River Police Department has refused to comply with public records requests from The Bay State Examiner and Photography is Not a Crime for documents related to their business with Ken Bell & Associates.
Carlos Miller, of Photography is Not a Crime, was able to determine from publicly available documents that Ken Bell went to the same college as Police Chief Daniel Racine and has suggested that the two may be college friends.
Chief Racine has yet to acknowledge that Thomas Barboza, the officer who arrested Thompson, was wrong. Previously, he told WPRI that he supported the decision to arrest Thompson and prosecute him for wiretapping.
Update (same day as original post): According to Maya, the police have returned Thompson's phone. We'll have video of that soon.
Check our old video about George Thompson's case here: