An Iraq War veteran faces ten years in prison after snapping photos of police making an arrest.
Antonio Buehler was pumping gas last New Year's Eve when he caught sight of two Austin, TX cops "manhandling a woman" during a DUI investigation. Buehler, a resident of Austin, pulled out his cell phone and began taking pictures of the arrest. This is where the trouble began.
According to a Pixiq.com article by Carlos Miller, a veteran cops and cameras journalist, police then stormed over to Buehler and accused him of interfering with the investigation. When Buehler stood his ground, the cops argued that the Texan was "getting in [their] faces". In the police report, Officer Pat Oborski claims Buehler proceeded to "spit in [his] face". This, of course, gave officers the right to put Buehler under arrest for harassment of a public servant—a third degree felony charge.
What Officer Oborski didn't realize, however, is that other cameras were rolling during the altercation with Buehler. And video shot by a witness standing across the street show a different scene than what was painted in the police reports. In the report, Oborski claimed Buehler shoved the officer, and then proceeded to spit on the officer. While the low quality of the cell phone video makes it difficult to detect any loogies hawked, what we can see is Oborski pinning Buehler against his car, followed by wrestling him down as he straps handcuffs on his wrists. Furthermore, Austin Police Department's spokesperson Anthony Hipolito admitted that dash videos show no evidence of Buehler's alleged expectorations, meaning Buehler was unlawfully arrested. So should Buehler be a free man?
Not according to the cops. Though the spokesman Hipolito said he saw no spit, the police department refuse to release any of the arrest videos to Buehler, or even let him watch them. According to Buehler, this policy comes from a police union contract, where the investigations into his arrests will only be made public if allegations against the officer were verified.
On July 2, Buehler will plead his case before the Austin Citizen Review Panel. And despite all of the idiocy he's put up with, Buehler remains optimistic. While waiting to go to trial, Buehler created Peaceful Streets, a program that teaches Austinites about their rights in police encounters. He hopes to get enough support to hand out more than 100 video cameras to Austin residents so they can keep an eye on cops.
"We want to encourage people to take their liberty and security in their own hands," Buehler told Miller in his interview.
Check out Carlos Miller's tips on how to photograph cops here.
Video of Buehler's arrest: