A man arrested on New Year’s Day for filming police officers was taken into custody a second time early Sunday, when he was taping officers detain an intoxicated man downtown, his attorney told reporters outside of Travis County Jail.Recording police or anybody else in public should not be an arrestable offense, but some in law enforcement don't agree. In June in Dallas a motorcyclist was arrested essentially for contempt of cop after refusing to hand over video from a helmet cam. After he declined to give up the video, the deputy arrested him for allegedly having an obstructed license plate and the video was seized incident to arrest.
Antonio Buehler, 35, organizer of the Peaceful Streets Project, is facing a charge for interfering with public duty, his attorney, Joe James Sawyer, said Sunday afternoon. The lawyer said his client was detained about 2:30 a.m. Sunday on Sixth Street.
Austin police officials confirmed officers had arrested Buehler but did not release further information, saying they were reviewing the facts of the case. An official statement is expected to be released Monday. Sawyer called Buehler’s arrest a “deliberate action and part of a calculated effort to protect the officer who arrested him New Year’s Day.”
Buehler, an Army veteran, was arrested at about 1:15 a.m. New Year’s day and charged with harassment of a public servant after he stopped to take photographs of an arrest in Central Austin, according to court records. Police said Buehler interfered with her arrest. He filed a complaint against the arresting officers, who were cleared by an internal affairs investigation in July.
While Grits was on vacation, the New York Times ran an interview with the general counsel of the National Press Photographers Association on the subject of recording police. His advice, “For the general public, just be aware that this [being arrested for taking photos] may happen to you. Tell them, 'I’m on a public street, this is America, I can take pictures.'”
For those interested in more discussion of this topic, see a lengthy but informative 2010 policy forum from the CATO Institute on the subject of recording police during the performance of their duties:
Also, FWIW, the ACLU of New Jersey has created a cell phone app that will disappear from the cell phone screen while recording police encounters and automatically upload the video to an external server operated by the group. See also Seven Rules for Recording Police compiled by Steve Silverman from Reason magazine and a related video: