A Texas policeman fired 41 shots at a man who had led the police on a wild chase. The man died.
A person who lived on the street where the incident took place took videos of the shooting. The police saw him doing this. They demanded that he turn over the cell phone to them. The cell phone was returned four days later. The section of the disk devoted to the shooting was erased.
This is suppression of evidence. It is illegal according to some federal courts.
The legal question is this: Is there a federal law that covers all incidents? Or is it merely laws in some jurisdictions?
The Supreme Court will eventually have to decide. The issue: If it is illegal for private citizens to erase evidence, what about the police?
My guess is that the Supreme Court will side with the private citizen who records the incident. If this turns out to be true, the police will have to follow the law when conducting their public activities.
The spread of cell phones with cameras is a threat to law enforcement agencies that do not obey the law. Cell phones reduce the privacy of those who use them. The phones record where they are at any time. But the phones also are a tool of defense of individual liberties. There is nothing like a YouTube video to put the fear of bad publicity in the hearts of public employees.
On the whole, citizens are ahead in the digital wars.