In the attached video uploaded to YouTube by the user The Battousai, Austin Police approach a cameraman while he is filming a police facility from a public place. They begin to ask him questions about what he is doing and he remains silent and answers no questions. After realizing that he is not going to speak to them, the officers up the ante and begin to threaten him with being taken “downtown” to be fingerprinted to get his identity.
He then breaks his silence to ask if he had broken any laws. The officers confirm that he had not broken any laws. He asks multiple times if he is under arrest and they answer no, but that he is being held under a legal investigative detention. The officers then continue to tell him that he is required to provide his ID during a detention. They sorely misrepresented the law to this gentleman. Tex. Penal Code Ann., Tit. 8, § 38.02 clearly states:
(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally refuses to give his name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested the person and requested the information.
(b) A person commits an offense if he intentionally gives a false or fictitious name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has:
(1) lawfully arrested the person;
(2) lawfully detained the person; or
(3) requested the information from a person that the peace officer has good cause to believe is a witness to a criminal offense.
(c) Except as provided by Subsections (d) and (e), an offense under this section is:
(1) a Class C misdemeanor if the offense is committed under Subsection (a); or
(2) a Class B misdemeanor if the offense is committed under Subsection (b).
(d) If it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that the defendant was a fugitive from justice at the time of the offense, the offense is:
(1) a Class B misdemeanor if the offense is committed under Subsection (a); or
(2) a Class A misdemeanor if the offense is committed under Subsection (b).
(e) If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under Section 106.07, Alcoholic Beverage Code, the actor may be prosecuted only under Section 106.07.
To break it down to basics, he had to be under arrest to be compelled to provide his identification. The police said over and over again that he was not under arrest.
They then place him in cuffs and put him in the front seat of a patrol car to continue their charade of flexing their believed right to his personal information. They continue to question him and he refuses to answer questions. The officers then walk away from the car for some time in an obvious attempt to make him sweat. After some time, they return and tell him they are cutting him loose and that they are writing up a report on him that it will be filed under “unknown subject” since he would not identify himself to them.
They had to cut him loose since their detainment was illegal from the start. There was no reasonable suspicion that he had committed a crime or was about to commit a crime. He was not under arrest and by that alone, he was not legally obligated to give these officers anything. I applaud Battousai for standing his ground and not budging one inch in giving up his rights. The officers clearly were in violation of his civil rights under color of the law which is a criminal offense under US Code Title 18, sec. 241 and 242.
Contact the Austin Police Department at (512) 974-2000 and ask them why these officers are still violating people’s civil rights when the law clearly states that photography is not a crime. The officers involved were: Smith 6981, Roediger 6173, and Tripp 4765.