Texas

Happy Ending in One Part of the Austin Case of Antonio Buehler, Arrested for Filming Police

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Details from the great site Photography is not a Crime:

Deliberations in the trial of Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler lasted five hours before a Texas jury returned with a not guilty verdict Wednesday after an Austin police officer surprisingly testified on Buehler's behalf – most likely losing his job in the process.

Buehler was on trial for an incident that occurred on New Years Eve of 2012 where he witnessed Austin officers abusing the passenger of a vehicle during a routine DWI stop….

Buehler probed the officers with questions as he took pictures of the male officers holding the female passengers in a torture hold, known as the Strappado where her arms were cuffed behind her back and pulled upwards. Buehler can be heard in the video asking officers, "What are you doing?" Buehler described the hold as 'being meant for causing extreme pain."

Buehler was arrested and accused of spitting at one of the cops, Patrick Oborski. In the trial Oborski himself admitted it was just a little spittle in the course of Buehler asking him questions, not a full on contemptuous "spit in the face." Buehler has a civil suit against Oborski over the incident ongoing.

And Buehler had an unusual witness in his defense in this trial: a police officer.

Austin police officer Jermaine Hopkins…was told by APD brass that if he testified, he would lose his job by October 30th, which is today.

Hopkins testified anyway, telling jurors that Buehler had broken no law and that his fellow officers had violated his Constitutional rights by arresting him.

Hopkins has a hearing tomorrow to determine his fate with the department. He said he sent Buehler an email after seeing his case and wanted to testify out of concern that Buehler's rights were being violated.

Hopkins said in an interview with PINAC after the verdict that there are some good things about his department, but ulitmately he has no regrets and that he did the right thing by testifying. He also said if he could change anything it would be "accountability at the administrative level."

[UPDATE: Commenter Drake found a clip from 2013 showing Hopkins has his own illegitimate arrests in his background. Austin Police Department has not yet responded to a request for comment/clarification on Hopkins's claims; will update again when/if they do.]

Buehler will still be in court over this incident in the future, tho, with three additional charges and his civil suit still pending. He discusses his situation in this video interview:

Jacob Sullum reported on how Buehler's civil suit was allowed to go forward against the police's insistence that Buehler had no right to film them back in July. All of Reason's coverage of Buehler's case.

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  1. Unicorns DO exist.

    1. A much as Unicorns cease to be as soon as a human touches them, The Good Cop is no longer a cop as soon as he does the right thing.

  2. Austin police officer Jermaine Hopkins…was told by APD brass that if he testified, he would lose his job by October 30th, which is today.

    If he’s subpoenaed, he’s legally required to show up and testify.

    If he’s sworn in, he’s legally required to tell the truth.

    How on earth can he be fired for doing what he’s legally required to do? I suspect the Austin PD will be paying substantial sums to Mr. Hopkins if they carry through on their threat. And they might be liable even if they don’t.

    And what will the police union do if he is fired? Throw him under the bus for betraying the Cop Tribe?

    1. Seriously, how can threatening to fire someone if they testify NOT be obstruction of justice? How is this not a crime committed by whoever at Austin PD was involved in this decision?

      1. Because Fuck You, That’s Why. Are you under some sort of delusion that we live under the rule of law? Because if you are, you’re staring at one little nugget of the truth that we’re not. And there are so, so many more examples out there.

        And yes, the police union will betray him because he broke the blue wall of silence. Snitches get stitches, yo.

      2. If I was the judge on this case, I’d be calling senior PD administrators on the stand to explain to me why they are trying to prevent a cop from testifying in a criminal case.

        But, yeah, yeah, I know. They’re all on TEAM COP.

        Epi, you might have missed, this is my new handle – R C Dean, f/k/a MegaloMonocle

    2. I suspect the Austin PD will be paying substantial sums to Mr. Hopkins if they carry through on their threat.

      Hm… I wonder if the NYPD is hiring.

    3. He volunteered to testify.

      1. That’s the worst crime imaginable!

    4. “And what will the police union do if he is fired? Throw him under the bus for betraying the Cop Tribe?”

      To me, this is the really interesting element in the case. I suspect the unions true colors will show soon.

  3. Was Buehler also charged with truancy?

    1. Wow, sounds like y’all are too pissed to make Buehler jokes. This must be serious.

  4. If Hopkins does lose his job, I would gladly donate to any fund that might be set up for the support of him and his family. How ironic that he faces the end of his career for actually possessing the courage and honor his colleagues only pretend to have.

    I would also consider donating to any fund set up for the purposes of having the APD top brass tarred and feathered, just saying…

  5. How could this happen in liberal, socially tolerant Austin?

    1. Because liberals elect statist Democrats, and can’t figure out why this turns out badly because dammit, they intended well, and nobody they voted for could possibly do bad things!!!

  6. The APD is tampering with a witness by threatening to fire Hopkins. Do they know the officer is going to commit perjury or something?

  7. The excerpt suggests that Hopkins wasn’t actually present at the scene. If that’s the case, then it’s strange the judge allowed him to testify. I guess he could be introduced as some kind of expert, but generally a court won’t allow experts to testify on whether they think a person committed a crime or not.

  8. The same officer Jermaine Hopkins as this?

    http://www.statesman.com/news/…..ope/nbsCb/

    Something fishy is going on.

    1. Drake—Great catch; thanks. I have updated the post; APD has not yet clarified their side of what Hopkins is or is not being punished for.

    2. You are correct. I did the original story for PINAC. What Jermaine relayed to us was that there was some disciplinary action. And he owned up to his mistakes. During the course of learning why his arrest was a bad one, he began watching other clips of bad arrests. Then he came across Buehler’s case. He noticed discrepancies in the way the department handled that case when compared to his. He felt that he did make a bad arrest, and, again, owned up to it. But he also said that after he began researching the topic that he knew that other similar bad arrests were being covered up. So he testified. I just wanted to clarify that point.

  9. The fact that Jermaine Hopkins’s actions are incredibly rare and will result in him being punished by his superiors speaks volumes. Cops in this country are out of control and above the law. Go fuck yourself, Dunphy.

  10. “Buehler was initially charged with harassment of a public official (for allegedly spitting on Oborski, a felony) and resisting arrest (a misdemeanor), but in April 2013 was no-billed on those charges and indicted instead for failure to obey a lawful order, a Class C misdemeanor punishable with no jail time and a maximum $500 fine. He eventually won that case on Wednesday, acquitted after a five-person jury deliberated for nearly six hours, an outcome long in the making.”

    http://www.austinchronicle.com…..acquitted/

    This 2013 press release from DA Rosemary Lehmberg (the scourge of drunk drivers) is forced to acknowledge that the grand jury refused to issue felony charges.

    http://www.austinchronicle.com…..040213.pdf

    It’s time to reconsider the dogma that a grand jury wouldn’t indict a ham sandwich.

    1. *would* indict

  11. Well that’s nakedly criminal of the APD. How nice of them to take the mask off.

  12. Officer Hopkins sounds like one of the good ones. It’s good to be reminded that there are some honest cops out there who are interested in truth and justice above all. If he does lose his job, I’ll be ready to donate to a fund for him.

  13. I wonder what would have happened if the cops had put Lehmberg, the DUI DA, in a strappado hold?

    It’s a hypothetical question only, because they didn’t do it, even after her blatant refusal to cooperate, her mouthing off to the arresting officers, and her attempt at pulling rank.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrxsCH_p1oc

    It seems that the woman they arrested in the Buehler case wasn’t politically connected.

    1. Why is Lehmberg still in office? If only someone had tried to remove her from her position…

  14. I don’t have the guts to hassle DUI, I mean DA, Rosemary Lehmberg, who is responsible for these prosecutions, but if someone has more balls than me, here’s her contact info:

    CONTACT INFORMATION
    District Attorney’s Office

    509 West 11th St.
    Austin, TX 78701 (Map)

    Mailing Address

    P.O. BOX 1748
    Austin, TX 78767

    Telephone: (512) 854-9400
    Fax: (512) 854-9695

    http://www.co.travis.tx.us/dis…..ontact.asp

  15. My eight day suspension was overturned yesterday…unlike Oborski, who was not disciplined, the arrest that I made was justified.

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