When Cop-Blockers Don’t Understand the Law, positive activism can end up causing more harm than good.
The guys in the video below did a fairly good job of fending off their harassment, however they made some mistakes. ExCop turned Law Student gives a bit of advice on things they could have done better.
The more information that cop-blockers have the better. A lesser ignorance is the best weapon against tyranny that we have.
June 13, 2014
Two Cop-Blockers in Odessa, Texas were detained recently and did not like it. Some of what they don’t like is correct, but much of it is mistaken. I’ll address their comments, which are in italics. Here is their video:
We were walking around Odessa Police Department around 7PM, both for exercise, and to get some shots of the building, and parking lot, all of which was captured while standing on a public sidewalk. As the video starts out, you can see use walking around the building complex, joking around and talking, and then we are illegally detained for over 40 minutes by quite a lot of officers. My biggest issue, is that they know very well who we are, and their excuses of us being “suspicious” were completely unfounded and outright lies. Anyway, here are several points we’d like to make about this detainment…
1: Filming from a public, or publicly accessible area is legal, including anything that can be seen in plain view from such locations unless it is sexual in nature, such as filming someone undressing in front of a window, or trying to take a picture down a woman’s shirt. OPD claimed that their facility was exempt from this legal activity. (It’s not)
This was a correct statement. You can generally film anything you can see in public, with some narrowly limited exceptions (including the ones noted).
2: They changed their story several times as to why we were being detained. First it was suspicious behavior, then it was for filming their “vehicles”, then it was “possible intent to commit burglary”. One officer even went so far as to mention the naval base shooting, as if that was some other reason to think we might be up to no good.
They really didn’t change their stories. At 3:15, when they first get stopped and are told they are being detained, the officer states that the detention is to make sure that they “are not breaking into people’s vehicles.” That is a reasonably articulable suspicion of criminal activity based on the actions of the individuals, and it is consistent with the later comments on burglary since breaking into vehicles is Burglary of Vehicles, Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 30.04 (Vernon). The officer further explained that it was nighttime, the individuals were walking through a parking lot, taking photographs of vehicles, etc. Guys, that is reasonable articulable suspicion.
3: The supervisor on scene outright lied and said it is illegal to not carry ID on you at all times. This is a complete lie. You are not required to carry ID on you unless you are engaged in an activity that requires such identification, such as driving. You’re not even required by Texas law to provide your name and birthdate unless you are under arrest or legally detained.
The supervisor is ignorant. There is no requirement under Texas law to carry ID. I would suggest that the sergeant get hold of a copy of the Texas Penal Code and read it in order to find out what the law allows. And WTF does Texas Open Records law have to do with photography? She is really, really ignorant of the law and has no business supervising police officers when she doesn’t understand the law.
4: Upon hearing that the first amendment right of freedom of press was the “legality” I had for filming their facility, she insisted that the Texas state penal code protected police vehicles from being filmed or photographed. (It doesn’t)
More BS by the officers.
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5: We were held for longer than 20 minutes, violating the Terry Stop law, from Terry vs Ohio.
This is incorrect info – there is not a “20 minute” time limit on a stop.
6: One officer refused to give us his name and badge number. After we were released I asked the remaining officers for his information and they refused to give it to me as well.
No state law requires that, but most PDs have a policy on identifying themselves.
7: We were apparently SO suspicious that between 15 – 20 cops were on the scene, and yet not once did they feel the need to pat us down to make sure we weren’t armed. They didn’t even ask for a regular search, or even to see the footage we had acquired. This was the biggest indicator that the entire detention was purely for harassment and intimidation.
Actually, that is not correct. If they did not have reasonable suspicion that you were armed, a pat down for weapons would be unreasonable. The officers did OK on that part.
8: Officer Aguilar did not let me read over the information he wrote down about me before demanding that I fingerprint myself.
There is no requirement for him to do so.
9: All except one officer on scene acted in an overly aggressive manner, trying their best to intimidate us. (Which didn’t work)
That’s a subjective view, but I can understand both sides here.
10: They claimed they had us on camera entering their parking lot, which we NEVER did. Another lie.
11: All in all, we could have remained silent, refused identification (since they had no reasonable articulable suspicion and therefore no legal right to detain us), gotten arrested on a bogus charge, and later fought it in court, but I was more concerned with getting us home that night. There will always be another time.
They actually had grounds to detain, or at least stated valid grounds, but you are correct, you did not have to ID, but not for the reasons you stated. The Texas statute does not require a detained subject to ID themselves.
Source for this article is the ExCop-Lawstudent Blog