Maui Police and Dog the Bounty Hunter’s Security Team Assault Photographer

According to

On the evening of April 12, MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo was assaulted by a member of reality star Duane Chapman aka Dog the Bounty Hunter’s security team. Soon after, I was assaulted again, and had my First Amendment rights violated, by a member of the Maui Police Department.

It began around 9pm, when I exited my Wailuku office. As I was crossing the parking lot, I noticed a number of large SUVs directly adjacent to my vehicle, and heard a woman asking for an autograph. Naturally curious, I pulled out my camera and started shooting video. Immediately, Chapman’s security guards began pushing me away. I informed them I was a member of the press and I had the right to film on public property.

This did nothing to dissuade them, and after a security guard who I later identified as Sonny Westbrook shoved me particularly hard I announced I was calling 911. The security guard then snatched my phone out of my hands and jabbed me in the mouth with his open palm, making direct contact with my upper front teeth and knocking my head back. At this point I began yelling for help.

After repeated demands, the security guard finally threw my phone down on the hood of a car; I grabbed it and called 911. While I was making the call, another member of Dog’s entourage who I recognized as his wife, Beth Chapman, began yelling at me, making it difficult for the operator to hear me. While I was still on the phone with 911, MPD officers arrived at the scene.

I explained what happened, and while one of the officers took my statement I continued recording with my phone. The Dog crew moved behind a van and I moved slightly to get a better vantage point. It was then that Officer Johnson of MPD told me I was “antagonizing” Dog’s gang. I panned the camera over to Officer Johnson and he charged me and hit me in the face opened-handed as he violently yanked the phone from me. I demanded he return it and he did, at which point I began filming again.

He then charged me a second time, and as I turned away from him and shoved my phone in my pants he grabbed me and twisted my left arm behind my back, wrenching it painfully. I pleaded with him to stop, telling him he was hurting me. That only made him wrench harder.

This went on for at least three minutes. I was screaming for help. The more I screamed in pain, the more Officer Johnson wrenched my arm. The video clearly shows I remained calm; I was doing nothing more than filming the incident, and for that I was assaulted by a public servant on public property. I repeatedly explained to him that I was a member of the press and cited my First Amendment right. Officer Johnson erroneously claimed my press rights didn’t include filming him against his wishes.

After the assault, Johnson fabricated a story that I charged him with the camera, but the video evidence (which can be viewed on our news blog, clearly refutes that.

Soon a higher-ranking officer arrived on scene. As I was explaining the incident to him, I watched in the background as Officer Johnson got his chance to go meet the TV star Chapman, and they shook hands and laughed together.

I challenge Dog and his crew to release their video footage of the events.

Bottom line: because I attempted the completely legal act of recording on public property I was shoved, hit, had my property taken and was prevented from accessing emergency services. Once “help” arrived, I was further assaulted and had my Constitutional rights violated.

This type of injustice cannot, and should not stand. The police are supposed to serve and protect. When they fail in that duty, they must be held accountable.

  • bLaKouT

    The police are not there to either protect or to serve. They are a revenue gathering arm of local government. If you get in their way, they will run you down. Calling the police more often than not, will result in further violations of your rights, injury to you, arrest, (warranted or not), and possibly even death. It is usually a mistake.

  • Dennis

    Another case of a scumbag cop lying and getting caught on camera doing so. How many cops lie and are not caught on video tape and people go to jail because of them?

    Fuck I hate cops

  • Dennis

    PS…totally agree with blakout…I am more likely to NOT contact the police if I see something illegal happen.

    Because of their corruption I am of the opinion, its your problem, not mine and I will stand back and film any encounter the police have that I come across.

  • Phil

    Often we never hear the end of stories like this. I hope the end includes a full bank account for this Photographer.

  • Danny (A)

    My head is steaming a little bit.

  • tim

    Look at the crasy bounty hunters can video tape you asult you rob you and you have no right to defend yourself and the local police wont help you. Maby i should get some arm thugs and brive donate to the police so i can run around town, and beet up and rob people. This is america I hope he files civil suit because they wont alow crimminal suit. I would like to see them do this in texas were good desent people have guns to defend themselves.

  • K.C.

    Dog Chapman’s entourage/security team is comprised mostly of his adult family members, who are basically gangish white trash who garnered some fame and fortune.

    I wouldn’t go to Hawaii because of the much higher cost of living/prices, all of the scuzzy criminal fugitive “ice”/meth addicts and supply flaunted on Dog’s show.

  • Austin Streets

    I have sent this to Tim and Aaron at Infowars, hopefully you will see it covered there soon. We are Change is on it also. These guys need to be put in their place with their synthetic Americanism. Looks like we got some educating to do with officer Johnson.

  • Larry Gump Virginia

    I have to agree with KC…….here we have “dog” the convicted felon murderer bounty hunter and his hordes of of illegitimate children providing free labor.

    Not to mention his morbidly obese wife and her loud mouth. It’s unfortunate this guy is considered a celebrity and even more strange that HE “the dog” needs a security group…..ahahahahahahha

    to the journalist……secure charges against Beth Chapman,The Police officer who assaulted you and the security guard. Then follow up with a civil suit. If this outfit was out of Virginia I would happily pay them a visit and give them a piece of my mind….but when your dealing with what as KC was right in calling TRAILER TRASH…what do you expect?

  • Anon

    So WTF is this. Guy admits to cop he physically assaults someone else and nothing is done. Then a few minutes later the cop feels the need to physically assault the man. WTF. Even more the reason to always film police, they are scum and clearly do not have issues assaulting people while in front of a camera, why would they worry about assaulting people & 100% getting away with it off camera.

  • chas_eric
  • Tommy Russo

    Thanks for all of your comments. I’m not just a photographer, but the publisher of the Alternative Newsweekly, Mauitime. This is just the beginning. It is my duty to fight for all of our rights and plan to do so. Please share this story as much as you feel necessary. I’m standing up for citizen’s rights and will begin to campaign for specific legislation to allow recording. Additionally, We need to see the act of law enforcement demanding recordings to stop, unlawful. Ordinary citizens will often obey these orders from authority rather than become confrontational as I did. And as such hand over their civil liberties to Maui Police Officer Mr. Nelson Johnson.

  • Craig

    We need to get rid of the ‘ol cell phone camera. Its pitiful that anyone with a camera on their phones seems to think they are the next guy to get some breaking news on it. Stay the hell out of my business….a couple of black cars and gee I think I will pull out my phone and start filming. If you had just minded your own business and got in your car and drove away……This is nothing more than someone not wanting to filmed and someone thinking they can. Bugger off and go away. Keep up the good work there Dog!

  • Larry Gump Virginia

    what Tommy does he does for the enrichment and education of the people…

    Dog “the felon” bounty hunter is a coward and does what he does for profit

    I challenge “dog” to a sanctioned MMA Fight Me & Him here in Norfolk,Virginia in a locked octagon…..

    PS. I’ll speedbad your morbidly obese wife’s fake breasts

    If he doesn’t hes a pussy……

    Larry Gump

    [email protected]

  • JFA

    Re: Craig
    Mr. Russo was well within his legal right to film the film crew as well as film the officer. Just one of the things that happen when you are in public.

  • Ogre

    Sadly, calling police usually results in more violence.

  • training day

    “dog” the bounty hunter is nothing more than a Bail Bondsman. He is a business owner hence : the private sector. Isnt this what you retards are begging for?? Private police?? well here you go assholes..someone is funding his cause,,,its not me,,its you. There are thousands of these untrained renegade ass clowns out there. They are private citizens..nothing more, nothing less.. Private citizens are not bound to the same laws as the police..a privte citizen can violate your rights and tell you to go fuck yourself in the process….bring on the private police!!! WOOHOO!! great idea!

  • Larry Gump Virginia


    your dissertation was interesting….”private police”? lets dissect shall we?

    1. Bail Bondsmen ARE not permitted in ANY of the 50 states to enforce laws….or serve any process beyond the bailpieces THEY wrote.

    2. “MOST” and I do mean MOST states are moving towards requiring these bondsmen to become licensed through their individual states. THis provides oversight and a method for filing complaints and initiating investigations.

    3. “dog” has a history of violating the law both prior to and after becoming a “bounty hunter” or bail bondsman”.

    4. To the best of my knowledge felons like Chapman cannot be bail bondsman.

    5. To the best of my knowledge non one on this site supports private police anymore than we support state sponsored policing… personal issue isn’t with police as a whole but with individual officers who engage in brutality,coercion and crime.

    Too many officers today seem to feel there badge was “right” bestowed them by some higher power. All an officers badge represents is the trust placed in him/her by the jurisdiction they serve. I understand officers have to use caution and can be standoffish.

    However copblock has documented far too many incidents of officers crossing the line to simply brush this problem off

  • Rob

    Training Day did you watch the whole video? I only posted this to show the police officer assaulting the journalist towards the end of the video. This post had nothing to do with “Dog” or his security force.

    Also like Larry Gump posted, “Dog” is not a private security force. His wife owns a Bail Bonds company and he is only authorized to capture people that signed an agreement to show up to their court date that did not.

    As far as private security goes, my condo hires it’s own security company. We have authorized them to boot and fine cars. Also not allow anyone in the building that does not have business here as well as fine residents that break rules that we as a community agreed on. The only time I have seen police come here is if there is a medical emergency and they have no business even responding to that as fire/ rescue comes about a minute later and deals with the situation.

  • Rachel Faith

    NEVER, NEVER CALL THE POLICE. Sheesh. Film, and if harassed, SUE. Especially someone famous. They will settle. But calling the cops is just STUPID. I wouldn’t call the cops for any reason on the earth. None. I’d call my lawyer. I’d call friends, family, even random strangers. Maybe an ambulance. But Cops? No.

  • Anonymous

    I am steaming as well. I have another court date this month for the second time on the same ‘OUI’ charge from june of 2010 on Maui. Supposedly after I already went to court, they found out I take adderall, which I have for 7 years, and issued a new ‘complaint’ a month after this was ‘dismissed’ in court.

    After a breathalyzer, 2 field sobriety checks, a third officer slams his hands down on the hood of my car and says ‘just tell me right now how much meth you’ve done tonight’… I am not that guy… Somehow I ‘failed’ this 3rd sobriety check and had to pay $1000 to get out of jail…

    So 8 months after this complaint was issued, it was never served, and Geico said they could no longer insure me. I called my public defender, who called the prosecutor and was told I had to go to the prosecutors office to get my complaint ‘served’.

    Not easy to do without car insurance!!!

    Anyways, keep the momentum going, happy to have a place to vent a little bit…


  • Victor

    wait until my sergeant gets here i am gonna tell on you. and we all stick together so you know you gonna get in trouble. hang in there people keep video taping for change to come.

  • Victor

    i am so sorry bro i read your story.

  • BailBondJohn

    As A licensed bailbond agent on the island of Oahu, I can speak first hand on these characters. First off Duane Chapman is NOT a bail bondsman and stating so is illegal by hawaii state law.
    Second, there whole crew has a history of being beligerant and shoving their way onto private property that is not bound by contract for search and phisically assaulting non-defendants in the process (which seems to go unpunished for some odd reason). By viewing the daily blotter reports it is often found that the majority of those extremely dangerous criminals they are bringing to justice are mearly low level mismemeaner infractions that they need to fill airspace with. To those of you praising this television actor for his herotics, try speaking to the countless establishments throughout the island that has barred him and Beth for their diva actions. Off camera, they both are caught blasting profanity laced burst fairly often. Please remember all… there is nothing real about reality TV.

  • http://none jesse

    thats proof right there. I dont know why this shit isnt in court, or the papers. this goes on every day with MPD. Ive experienced it first hand!

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  • Csdenver

    We use to be such huge fans. But we live in Colorado and Dog and his family are horrible bullies. He will order tons of food and a resturant and then call when he gets home and complain that it is cold. Threaten to get employees fired. It is Comon theme in the Colorado area where he lives.