Watch a Texas lawman's pathetic scramble for a reason not to record him

In this video, shot in April by Andrewwake58, Gray County Sheriff's Deputy Stokes tries every conceivable tactic to illegally intimidate a citizen who is peacefully recording him without interfering. Deputy Stokes invents imaginary laws, tries repeatedly to seize the camera, illegally orders the citizen to stop recording, demands identity papers without justification. When all else fairs, the Deputy declares that if the citizen journalist doesn't comply, that he can just "make stuff up" to make him stop.

"Failure to identify" is a Texas law enforcement specialty. Where other departments are forced to rely on nebulous charges like "interference," "disorderly conduct," wiretapping law violations or straight-faced discussions of law-enforcement-centric urban legend "the cellphone was a gun," Texas officers deploy "failure to identify" when shutting down camera-wielding citizens. But the law doesn't work the way they think it does.

After making this "error," Stokes compounds it by claiming -- in direct opposition to a great many court decisions (as well as common sense) -- that it's illegal to record police officers. This, too, fails to stick. The citizen knows the law better than Stokes does and other officers begin to realize Stokes is taking this interaction in a dangerous direction and convince him to walk away.

While I would not expect police officers to know every nuance of the many laws they enforce, I would at least expect them to remain current on the ones that are routinely abused. If they don't know the details, the problem lies with those responsible for training them. There's no excuse (other than simply being a bad cop) for an officer to make this many errors in the course of one interaction. Any law enforcement agency should be up-to-date on court decisions and (especially) lawsuits that target oft-disputed areas like citizens with cameras. At this point, an officer needs to be wilfully ignorant to remain this out of touch with the reality of the situation.

Texas Deputy Displays Ignorance Of Laws He's 'Enforcing' While Trying To Shut Down A Citizen's Recording [Tim Cushing/Techdirt]

Notable Replies

  1. I'm proud of that young man for standing up not just for his rights but all of our rights. Not every fight for a free country takes place on a battlefield. All of us need to be as courageous and well mannered as this guy in our efforts to keep police in their proper role. They are publicly employed to protect us and our constitutional laws. Harassing us without reason is reason to resist. We have that responsibility to keep these employees in line with their job descriptions. The cops actions in this case reflected his desire to grab power. I wonder how this would have worked out if the citizen had been Black or Brown. God spare him had he looked as if he were from the middle east.

  2. I don't think it's too much to expect cops not to deliberately abuse their power. You don't need to be Wile E Coyote, Super Genius to know that is wrong, and when a cop says, or thinks to himself, "I'll just make stuff up" then there is no question that is what they are doing - no "ignorance of the law" applies.

    That cop should go to jail, IMO, for deliberate abuse of power. If you can't trust a cop not to "make stuff up" over a nuisance, imagine what he'll do when there is real crime. I wonder how much stuff he has made up in the past? All of his past and future court testimony should be considered in the light of what he just said he'd do to get the result he wanted.

  3. That's actually a big part of the problem. They do see themselves as putting bad people away - and anyone who doesn't do what they say, everything they say, is either one of the bad people, or is against the good people, the cops, who want to put the bad people away. It is an us, cops, vs them, everybody else, thing.

  4. Sim0n says:

    That guy has nerves of steel, I'd start smart-mouthing my ass down to the concrete about 3 minutes in.

  5. Why do you put videographer in quotes? Do you really think mall security guards can threaten to jail you for taking pictures? Why are you okay with law enforcement making up laws? Why are you okay with these police officers having a complete lack of understanding of the constitution? Considering your comparison to the SS, it seems like you're saying "Nobody got thrown in a concentration camp, so it's all good!"

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