The day after the new policy became public, police officers were caught on video threatening to arrest a man for loitering in Federal Hill. The man had been recording them as they held someone on the ground.

The ACLU had said a lawsuit could have been avoided if police had worked to develop clearer policies and had acknowledged that Sharp should have been able to record the incident. But the Police Department did not respond to that request, prompting the lawsuit in August 2011.

"It was the Police Department's refusal to admit it was wrong that made me take this to court, and the department's lawyers have done everything they could to make that process more difficult," Sharp said in a statement released by the ACLU.

The issue of recording police garnered attention in 2010 when a motorcyclist was charged in Harford County with videotaping on a helmet-mounted camera his interaction with a state trooper who had pulled him over at gunpoint for speeding. The man was acquitted and the Maryland attorney general's office later issued an opinion advising police agencies that people have a right to record officers.

In August 2012, police told Sharp of their intention to subpoena medical records related to a hair follicle test and served subpoenas for Sharp's phone records and information from a previous employer, Laurel Park racetrack. In addition, they contacted his ex-wife, her current boyfriend and her mother, which his attorneys described as "running amok in Sharp's personal life."

Gauvey said the contacts with people in Sharp's personal life were not necessarily improper, as it was possible that Sharp had shared his version of the Preakness incident with them. But excerpts of the depositions "presented a picture of defense counsel 'working [the] plaintiff over' — asking irrelevant and personal questions about his custody arrangements for his young son and his divorce proceedings."

A. Dwight Pettit, an attorney who is not involved in Sharp's case but who has filed numerous lawsuits against the city, called Gauvey's decision "unusual, but very positive."

jfenton@baltsun.com


  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts