PRESS RELEASE: Austin Police Illegally Arrest Peaceful Streets Project Organizer Joshua Pineda; Continues to Wage War Against First Amendment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10th, 2016
The Austin Police Department continued their practice of violating the First Amendment rights of police accountability activists on Sunday morning. At approximately 12:58 A.M., Joshua Pineda, a lead organizer with the Peaceful Streets Project, was arrested while filming police officers harassing a young black man.
While filming the police downtown, Joshua Pineda and a half dozen other Peaceful Streets Project copwatchers observed Austin Police repeatedly shoving a young black man near the northeast corner of Trinity & 6th Streets. The young black man did not appreciate being repeatedly shoved, and began to legally voice his displeasure to the police. While most of the police turned and walked away, Officer Cameron Staff #6830 decided that he would escalate the situation. Officer Staff apparently didn’t like the young man’s protest, and proceeded to follow the young man across the street. By doing so, Officer Staff highlighted APD’s tendency to needlessly escalate situations as opposed to mindfully deescalating them.
With the Peaceful Streets Project following behind to document the situation, various other APD officers followed. Joshua legally went to a knee to film Officer Staff bullying the young black man. While Joshua Pineda never interfered by any stretch of the imagination or the law (TX Penal Code 38.15), Corporal Richard Mears #3564 walked over to him and ordered him to move back. In doing so, Corporal Mears violated APD Policy 302.2(c)6. Given an illegal order, Joshua Pineda continued to exercise his First Amendment right to document government officials engaging in racist policing. Corporal Mears then illegally arrested Joshua Pineda.
The Peaceful Streets Project has had previous contact with both Officer Staff and Corporal Mears. On November 18, 2015, a Peaceful Streets Project volunteer filmed Staff refusing to identify himself in violation of APD Policy 900.4.4. And on March 20, 2016, a Peaceful Streets Project volunteer filmed Corporal Mears defending Officer Cameron Caldwell #7408 who illegally assaulted a handcuffed, detained, young black man during SXSW. In the video, you can hear CPL Mears claiming that Officer Caldwell was a “great guy” who “took care of business” and “took the fight out of [his handcuffed victim].”
We have no doubt that these two officers have been emboldened by the cowardice of the Chain of Command up to and including Chief Hubert Arturo “Art” Acevedo, city and county prosecutors, City Manager Marc Ott, Mayor Steve Adler, and the City Council who have repeatedly turned a blind eye to the repeated and endless train of criminal acts by the Austin Police Department against the people.
The Peaceful Streets Project dares the Austin Police Department to immediately release the videos that Joshua Pineda took of the incident, as well as the HALO videos and body camera videos that will prove Joshua Pineda’s innocence. We want the people of Austin to see for themselves that the only criminals in this incident were the Austin Police. Or does the Austin Police Department have something to hide? The answer to that question will lead you to the reason that the Austin Police Department continues to wage war against peaceful activists who dare to exercise their First Amendment right to film the police.
Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler was scheduled to sit on a Q&A Panel with Scott Christopherson, the producer of the documentary Peace Officer, following the Austin “premier” of the film, tomorrow evening. Within hours of the Peaceful Streets Project posting a Facebook event about the documentary, the public relations firm that contacted Buehler to sit on the panel sent him an email telling him that the Q&A Panel was cancelled. (If you purchased tickets and want a refund scroll down to the final paragraph)
When Buehler finally got the PR rep on the phone the next day, she told him that the producers of the movie got cold feet because they had received an email from someone who indicated that they were offended by the views of Buehler, and therefore the producers chose to remove him from the panel (but not cancel the Q&A as she claimed the day before). However, when Buehler talked to the producers of the film, they claimed that they had nothing to do with the change, and that the PR company was the one who made that decision.
Unable to get a straight answer from the PR company and/or the producer, we are left to assume that once again the police have exerted external pressure on someone to prevent us from sharing our message of police accountability, even though the police were able to use the same film at the same venue in advance of the premier to push the lie that Austin Police Department doesn’t use their SWAT team to terrorize and kill people. In the past, the police (who are led by media savvy but ethically corrupt Police Chief Hubert “Art” Acevedo) have pressured three venues to cancel Peaceful Streets Project events, to include Huston-Tillotson University after we paid a security deposit. Additionally, they have pressured local media, to include the Austin American-Statesman and Jeff Ward of the local radio station KLBJ, to stop giving us a voice.
One might ask themselves, why would people allow the police to dictate who can appear at their events, who can host events at their establishments, and who they can give a voice to using their platforms? The answer is that the police state is quite influential and powerful, particularly at the local level.
First, the police are a violent gang of thugs who pick and choose which people they abuse the most. If you’re a person of color, homeless, mentally ill, female, or happen to look or dress the “wrong” way, you are much more likely to be abused than people in other segments of society. Much of society recognizes this, and they don’t want to find themselves in the sights of criminal police.
Second, the police provide subsidized security services for corporations. The notion that the police have a duty to protect you has been disproven by the Supreme Court (Warren v. District of Columbia). Sure, police may murder people at traffic stops or turn their backs on someone who is bleeding out in the poor part of town, but they will eagerly protect private business. Business owners are well aware of the benefits of relying on the police to protect their property instead of having to pay private security. It reduces their expenses, padding their profits, and it removes them from liability should the security (police officers) violently beat or kill someone. Like dealing with the mafia, it often pays to stay on the good side of police who may or may not be able to ensure the protection of your business.
Third, in our backward society, there are benefits to being on the good side of the police. If you’re a business owner, you may get taxpayer subsidized customers such as police conferences held at your establishment, paid marketing such as police recruitment advertisements in your newspaper, or special contracts such as a monopoly on towing services. If you’re media, you even get access to the Chief of Police for interviews. And if you’re really friendly with the Chief, he may even be willing to get you out of jail and have your DWI charges dismissed. Of course if you cross the police, you may get cut off from accessing the police department, which may give you a competitive disadvantage (which may force you to fire someone, ruining their life, and leading them to go to New York to commit suicide outside of the national corporate headquarters).
Because the police are a terrorist gang of cowardly criminals, we understand why so few people are willing to stand up to them. After all, we see how they viciously go after the victims of police abuse, with no repercussions because other cops, prosecutors, and politicians refuse to hold them accountable for their crimes. This is why it is essential that we continue to work to undermine the police state, and to help people come to the realization that we can evolve as a society, and live in peace with one another without paying the worst of society to put on a badge and a gun so that they can commit their crimes behind the protection of qualified immunity.
For those who had planned to attend the “premiere” of Peace Officer, you can email Kayla Williams at email@example.com and provide her with your row number, seat numbers and telephone number. She will have someone from Alamo contact you and ask you for the name on your credit card, your credit card number, and the expiration date on the card in order to cancel the charge. You can also call the following number to have your refund processed: 512-861-7040, box office press 4. You must contact them before 7:00 pm on Friday, October 9th in order to get a refund. In place of the film and panel, we will be meeting at 8:00 pm at the Shake Shack for dinner and camaraderie in advance of our Friday night cop watch. I hope you can join us. All power to all the people! #ACAB
Tonight, August 14th, the Peaceful Streets Project will dedicate our effort and resources to holding Sgt. Randy Dear #4422 accountable. We will be shadowing his operations for the night with banners and fliers, stating his violations of our Constitutional right to film.
On the night of August 1st, Sgt. Dear illegally conspired with his subordinates to threaten and then arrest Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler and Film The Police Portland founder Mike “Bluehair” Smith. While Buehler was filming from over 10 feet away, Sgt. Dear #4422 approached Buehler and told him that he would arrest the members of the Peaceful Streets Project the next time there was a “disturbance” and they got “in the way” that they would be arrested. Buehler questioned Dear how they could be interfering if they were just standing where hundreds of other people were also standing. Later, after Dear re-approached and moved within inches of Buehler, he gave Buehler an arbitrary order move claiming Buehler was now interfering with his duties. While Buehler was complying, and protesting the illegal order, Dear and five other paramilitary soldiers* jumped, assaulted, and arrested him, while Cpl. Quint Sebek #3454 turned and assaulted and arrested Mike “Bluehair” Smith. Ofc. Aljoe Garibay #6155 then submitted a lie filled affidavit to support the illegal arrests. The Peaceful Streets Project later released multiple videos of the incident in a public rebuttal, proving that APD lied in their attempts to justify an illegal arrest.
A few weeks prior to this incident, Dear gave an unlawful ultimatum to the members of Peaceful Streets Project requiring them to maintain an arbitrary distance from APD officers. In response to the quoted facts of the law regarding filming, and rulings by both the 5th Circuit and the Supreme Court, Dear stated, “This is not a judicial system. This is the law I’m telling you.”
It has become an obvious reality that there is a disconnect between the ruling of the courts and the actions of the Austin Police Department. If the constitutional right to film is no longer being respected, then we have no choice but to advance our tactics and strategies. We will exercise our constitutional and legal rights to the furthest extent possible to document the illegal actions of Sgt. Dear.
Sgt. Dear, Chief Art Acevedo, and the rest of the Austin Police Department, in three and a half years you have yet to beat us in court. We remain undefeated. You have attempted to murder, hospitalize, imprison and assault members of our community. Yet we remain ever strong, ever fearless. If you seek to end the existence and operations of the Peaceful Streets Project, the only way is to cease wrongfully abusing and murdering members of our community.
You WILL be filmed.
BREAKING VIDEOS: Austin Police Affidavit Proven False by Peaceful Streets Project Videos; Video Proves Illegal and Unconstitutional Arrests
In what many believe was a continued assault on the First Amendment rights of police accountability activists by the Austin Police Department, Antonio Buehler, founder of the Peaceful Streets Project, and Mike Bluehair Smith of Film the Police Portland were both arrested early Sunday morning, August 2nd, while filming police officers in downtown Austin during an organized “cop watch.” Fortunately for Buehler and Smith, the videos that members of the Peaceful Streets Project were taking proves that their arrests were illegal, unconstitutional, and that the Austin Police Department issued a fraudulent probable cause affidavit.
Austin Police Officer Aljoe Garibay #6155 was the author of the affidavit for the arrest of Buehler. The affidavit included a series of misleading and false statements. The misleading and false statements are listed below in bullet format, with an explanation of why the statement is misleading and/or false in the subsequent bullet:
- “Not only did responding officers have to move around crowds to get to the disturbance they also had to move around members of the Peaceful Streets running towards the scene attempting to get there before we could, this delayed our response time to help and assist breaking up the disturbance by adding to pedestrian traffic, blocking my path, at one point I had to move Buehler out of the way.” (Paragraph 3)
- First, the Peaceful Streets Project members are a part of the crowd, and should not be treated as a separate class of people who are expected to always be mindful of who may be behind them. To argue that only those with cameras have the responsibility of knowing if a police officer is behind them and wants to move in a straight line to an unknown point that would lead the police officer through that person with a camera else they be arrested for interference places a considerable burden on cop watchers. A burden that is a violation of their First Amendment rights.
- Second, the video of the incident shows that Garibay was in a hurry to get nowhere. Garibay went past the disturbance to push past Buehler, and then stopped and stood around doing nothing.
- Third, Garibay refers to the scene as a “disturbance” implying that a crime was in progress involving a crowd. The scene was merely a young woman vomiting. The police work performed was in the nature of a welfare check to make sure the young woman was OK and nothing further happened.
- “It was then that Antonio approached our perimeter and made contact with SGT. Randy Dear. Antonio was holding a video recording device in his hand and was holding it approximately 6 inches from SGT. Dears’ face nearly touching him.”
- First, the affidavit makes it appear that the police presence at this time was related to an ongoing crime scene incident or disturbance. In fact, there was no incident at this point at all. The incident with the sick young woman had been resolved, all parties including the police had dispersed, and all Peaceful Streets Project cameras turned off. There was no disturbance whatsoever.
- Second, Buehler did not approach their perimeter. The police officers formed a huddle where they were all listening to SGT Dear, ostensibly preparing to orchestrate an illegal arrest of Buehler. Buehler was approached by SGT Dear, not the other way around. The video does not reveal any reason for the huddle.
- Third, the video clearly shows that SGT Dear moved from the huddle approximately 10-15 feet away to within inches of Buehler’s camera. At no point while Dear was approaching Buehler did Buehler advance his body or his arm holding the camera.
- “SGT Dear. Advised Antonio that he was on patrol and asked him to get back as he was in blocking his view, preventing him being able to have a clear line of sight of the large 6th street crowd. Antonio moved his recording device approximately 2 inches and began arguing with SGT. Dear.”
- First, the claim is an outright lie. SGT Dear said, “Hey, I’m going to let y’all know, the next time we go to a disturbance and you all get in the way … yes you were … the next time you’re interfering you’re going to be arrested. Alright, thank you. You’ve been warned Sir.” And then he walked away.
- Second, as previously proven through video, Buehler did not advance toward SGT Dear at all. Buehler’s “arguing” consisted of Buehler asking for clarification on how they could be interfering for standing somewhere.
- “A few minutes went by and I then asked Antonio to step back at least an arm’s length as he was now focused on recording CPL. Sebek. Antonio had his recording device approximately 6 inches away from CPL. Sebek face.”
- First, no more than thirty seconds went by from the time Dear walked away to the time Garibay told Buehler to stay an arm’s length away.
- Second, Buehler was at an arm’s length away from Sebek, and further for Garibay, the entire time. The video shows Sebek reaching his arm out ordering Buehler to be an arm’s length away without touching Buehler. Buehler never advances toward either of them.
- Third, Sebek was filming Buehler as Buehler was filming Sebek. They both had comparable filming positions, although Sebek initially placed his camera closer to Buehler’s face than Buehler did to Sebek’s face. At no point did Buehler stick the camera within six inches of Sebek’s face. The only time Buehler adjusted his filming position was when Sebek placed his camera directly in front of Buehler’s camera.
- “A few minutes went by again, and Antonio kept arguing with us getting closer and closer every time attempting to distract and engage in conversation. I … pointed exactly to him where he needed to be for a safe distance. Antonio kept getting closer and loser, rallying up his crew as he was being loud trying to get attention from the 6th street crowds and his crew quickly becoming a hostile situation.”
- First, only seconds elapsed.
- Second, the video shows that Buehler never advanced toward Garibay.
- Third, the video shows that Antonio did not say anything to anyone who he knew or motion to anyone who he knew in any way to get them to “rally” or to bring “attention from the 6th street crowds.”
- Fourth, the hostility came from Dear and Garibay issuing illegal orders to Buehler.
- “Antonio again refused to maintain a safe distance, again standing very close to officers placing camera phone into the faces of officers trying to watch the large 6th street crowd.”
- First, Buehler never advanced toward the police officers. The only reason Buehler was ever “very close to officers” was because the officers advanced toward Buehler.
- Second, Buehler never stuck a camera phone in the face of any officers trying to watch the crowd. The officers place their faces in Buehler’s largely stationary camera throughout the entire episode. The only time Buehler actively moves his camera is to be able to film Sebek who uses his camera to block Buehler’s. Sebek obviously was not watching the crowd; he was filming Buehler.
- “SGT. Dear approached Antonio and notified him to turn around he was under arrest for interference with public duties.”
- After SGT Dear approached Buehler and moved to within inches of him, Dear told Buehler that he had to move back because they were about to go on patrol. While protesting an illegal order, Buehler did step away from Dear and moved out of the space that he suggested he needed. Buehler was arrested, anyway. Buehler then turned around and tried to hand off his cameras to other Peaceful Streets Project members.
- “… he kept resisting by attempting to put his right arm under him.”
When compared to the multiple videos that the Peaceful Streets Project took of the arrest, it is clear that the affidavit written by Officer A. Garibay #6155 is one long string of misleading and fraudulent statements. At no point did Buehler advance toward the officers, at no point did the officers give Buehler any legal orders that would have required him to step back, and at no time did they have probable cause to arrest him. Further, Mike Bluehair Smith was illegally arrested for “interference with public duties” for simply trying to catch Buehler’s cameras as he tried to hand them off to Peaceful Streets Project members to prevent the police from confiscating them and suppressing the video evidence of the arrest.
Buehler said, “This arrest highlights how the Austin Police deliberately uses false arrests to trample on the Constitutional rights of those trying to hold the police accountable. By every measure, they were the only people who committed crimes on Sunday morning. They know that by the law, it is impossible to interfere with public duties simply by standing in a public space and filming cops standing around doing nothing. They also know that the Constitution trumps their belief that they can bark arbitrary orders at people with cameras to prevent them from filming their activities.”
In a follow up to statements made to the media on Sunday, Millie Thompson, Buehler’s defense attorney said, “I told you all that it was an illegal arrest. I told you so.”
Buehler originally made news on January 1, 2012, when he was arrested on the charge of Harassment of a Public Official, a 3rd degree felony, for allegedly spitting in Austin (TX) Police Officer Patrick Oborski’s face. Buehler was ultimately cleared of all charges from that arrest due to multiple witnesses stepping forward to testify that Oborski lied about Buehler spitting in his face, as well as multiple videos and audio files that proved that Oborski lied. In the fall of 2012, the Austin Police Department trained their officers how to illegally go about arresting Buehler and other members of the Peaceful Streets Project for filming them using the “interference with public duties” statute. Over the past three and a half years, Buehler has been arrested five times, has had ten charges levied in the courts against him, and has had dozens of criminal investigations launched against him (including at least three felony investigations by the Austin Police Department). Buehler has beaten every charge. No police officers have been disciplined or arrested for their illegal arrests.
The Peaceful Streets Project and Film The Police Portland are independent grassroots organizations that attempt to promote police accountability through cop watching (filming the police in public), in addition to other forms of direct action such as Know Your Rights trainings, protests against police brutality, and police accountability summits.
Antonio Buehler’s video: https://youtu.be/7ktkUingcOs
Steve D’s video: https://youtu.be/qIFItJeCM5c
Julian Reyes’ video: http://youtu.be/kvE8qGIUPm0
Richard B’s video: http://youtu.be/e4mziCp43VI
Lynn F’s video: http://youtu.be/ES04LtfEMCQ
Here are the first four videos synced highlighting how everything APD claims is a lie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiwtuBP7SXw
Antonio Buehler’s video of “disturbance” before the arrest: http://youtu.be/tCGPt0VvZg4
Disorderly Conduct Charge Against Peaceful Streets Project Founder Antonio Buehler Dropped After Second Mistrial; No More Criminal Charges Outstanding
Yesterday afternoon, Gonzales County (TX) Attorney Paul Watkins moved to dismiss a Class C Misdemeanor charge of Disorderly Conduct against Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler. With the dismissal, Buehler has now been cleared of every criminal charge levied against him since his initial high profile arrest in Austin, TX on January 1, 2012.
On March 13th, 2013, Buehler was at the municipal courthouse to observe court proceedings when he observed Judge Deidre Voigt verbally abusing adolescents who had received Class C misdemeanor charges for tardiness, truancy, and classroom disruptions at the local high school. When she found that he was recording her behavior, she confiscated his camera, searched it without a warrant, and then demanded that he delete the footage he had taken of her. As Buehler left the courthouse, Captain Gayle Autry told him to never return, and Buehler shortly thereafter told Autry to “go f— yourself.” Buehler was then arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct.
After being denied a continuance so he could obtain legal counsel, Buehler defended himself in the same court, presided over by Judge Voigt, on June 5, 2013, and was found guilty after a 7-hour trial, and assessed a $1 fine. Buehler immediately appealed the decision and was provided a trial de novo. Buehler went back to Gonzales for a trial on February 23, 2015 with Chevo Pastrano and Millie Thompson as his legal representatives, however, the trial was declared a mistrial due to an error made by County Judge David Bird. The trial date set for March 30, 2015, was cancelled the day before the trial when the county prosecutor claimed that he needed to deal with a family emergency. The trial date set for May 20, 2015, was cancelled days before the trial when the county court claimed to have discovered that they didn’t send out jury questionnaires.
On June 25th, 2015, Buehler went to court, again. The prosecution only called Captain Autry, while the defense called Buehler, and six other witnesses to testify. The prosecution argued that the mere utterance of the words “go f— yourself” tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace, while the defense argued that the arrest was illegal, that a police officer cannot arrest people because they are offended by free speech, and that Autry was never moved to violence. The six-person jury (two of who admitted during voir dire that they were friends or acquaintances with the prosecutor and the police that were present at the scene) deadlocked at 3-3, and the trial was declared a mistrial.
Watkins indicated that he chose to dismiss the charges after hearing the testimony at trial and concluding that he could not in good conscience try the case again. In response, Buehler said, “I appreciate that the prosecutor recognized that the testimony that was provided by Captain Autry during the trial proved that I did not commit any crime by exercising my First Amendment rights after I had my Constitutional right to be free from illegal search and seizure violated by Judge Deidre Voigt.” He continued, “I am also extremely grateful for the witnesses who were willing to travel to Gonzales multiple times to testify on my behalf, for the three members of the jury who refused to be pressured into declaring me guilty for a crime that was never committed, and for my hard working and principled lawyers Chevo Pastrano and Millie Thompson.” Buehler has already initiated a lawsuit against the City of Gonzales and Captain Gayle Autry for violations of his civil rights.
Buehler originally made news on January 1, 2012, when he was arrested on the charge of Harassment of a Public Official, a 3rd degree felony, for allegedly spitting in Austin (TX) Police Officer Patrick Oborski’s face. In the aftermath of that first arrest, Buehler launched the Peaceful Streets Project to educate the public on their rights, empower them to stand up for their rights and to stand up for the rights of one another, and come together to form communities to hold police accountable.
Over the next year and a half, Austin Police Officers arrested Buehler three more times for filming them while on duty. Two years and nine months after the New Year’s Day arrest, Buehler was found not guilty of any charges stemming from that incident at a four-day trial. Despite half a dozen witnesses, four videos, and two audio files that showed that Buehler did not spit on Oborski and that Oborski had lied in his arrest affidavit against Buehler, he was never disciplined or arrested.
In total, over the past three and a half years, Buehler has been arrested five times, has had ten charges levied in the courts against him, and has had dozens of criminal investigations launched against him (including at least three felony investigations by the Austin Police Department). With this dismissal, Buehler has now been cleared of every charge. Buehler is also currently suing the City of Austin, Chief Art Acevedo, Sergeant Adam Johnson, and Officers Patrick Oborski, Robert Snider, and Justin Berry.
The Gonzales Dismissal order is public record.
Press Release: Antonio Buehler Goes to Court in Gonzales (TX) for Final Criminal Charge This Thursday and Friday
This Thursday, June 25th, and Friday, June 26th, police accountability activist and Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler will go to trial in Gonzales, TX for the final criminal charge pending against him after three and a half years of activism against what he claims are corrupt and criminal cops. Despite being arrested five times, having ten charges levied in the courts against him, and having dozens of criminal investigations launched against him (including at least three felony investigations by the Austin Police Department), if Buehler is acquitted this week the police will have failed to have secured a single conviction against him.
On March 13th, 2013, Buehler had attempted to openly record what he claims was unprofessional behavior by Judge Deidre Voigt at the Gonzales Municipal Courthouse. Buehler claims Voigt was unnecessarily berating several adolescents who were in her court for Class C misdemeanor charges related to missing or being tardy to classes at the local public high school. When the city prosecutor noticed Buehler recording the judge, Voigt commanded Buehler to allow her to see his phone. Voigt then took the phone into her private chambers for approximately two hours while Buehler and his associates demanded that the police officers in the courtroom, including Captain Gayle Autry, retrieve the phone that they had considered stolen.
After going through Buehler’s phone and viewing the video he took, and despite no signage indicating that video recording was not permitted in the courtroom, Voigt gave Buehler the option of deleting the video or being arrested for Contempt of Court. Not wanting to spend a night in jail, Buehler opted to delete the video. On his way out of the courthouse, Captain Autry told Buehler, “Never come back to my courthouse, again.” Buehler then pulled out his phone and began filming Autry, asking him to repeat what Buehler perceived as a threat. As the two were separating in front of the courthouse, a sarcastic “have a nice day” was exchanged between Autry and another one of Buehler’s associates. After Buehler responded with “go f— yourself” as he was walking away, Autry turned around and arrested Buehler for disorderly conduct.
Judge Voigt later denied Buehler’s motion to recuse herself from presiding over the subsequent trial given her involvement leading up to his arrest. Buehler defended himself in court on June 5, 2013, and was found guilty after a 7-hour trial, and assessed a $1 fine. Buehler immediately appealed the decision and was provided a trial de novo.
Buehler went back to Gonzales for a trial on February 23, 2015 with Chevo Pastrano and Millie Thompson as his legal representatives, however, the trial was declared a mistrial due to an error made by the county judge. The trial date set for March 30, 2015, was cancelled the day before the trial when the county prosecutor claimed that he needed to deal with a family emergency. The trial date set for May 20, 2015, was cancelled days before the trial when the county court claimed to have discovered that they didn’t send out jury questionnaires. Buehler’s lawyers have repeatedly asserted his right to a speedy trial, and it seems as though Gonzales prosecutors will be hard-pressed to delay the trial, again.
Buehler originally made news on January 1, 2012, when he was arrested on the felony charge of Harassment of a Public Official, a 3rd degree felony for allegedly spitting in Officer Patrick Oborski’s face. In the aftermath of that first arrest, Buehler launched he Peaceful Streets Project to educate the public on their rights, empower them to stand up for their rights and to stand up for the rights of one another, and come together to form communities to hold police accountable.
Over the next year and a half, Austin Police Officers arrested Buehler three more times for filming them while on duty. Two years and nine months after the New Year’s Day arrest, Buehler was found not guilty of any charges stemming from that incident at a four-day trial. Despite half a dozen witnesses, four videos, and two audio files that showed that Buehler did not spit on Oborski and that Oborski had grossly misrepresented the incident in his arrest affidavit against Buehler, he was never disciplined or arrested. Austin city prosecutors later dropped all of the outstanding charges against Buehler.
Antonio Buehler was found Not Guilty on the charge of Disobeying a Lawful Order last evening, after six hours of deliberation by the jury.
During closing arguments, Millie Thompson, Buehler’s defense lawyer, argued that Buehler did not have to obey Oborski’s orders to put his hands behind his back because Oborski’s orders were illegal. They were illegal because the detention, assault and arrest of Norma Pizana were illegal, and because the detention and assault on Buehler in advance of his arrest were also illegal. She implored the jury to review the videos and audio if need be, to read carefully the jury charge, and to stand by their convictions and to not be intimidated by the Austin Police Department that had upwards of a dozen police officers in the court during the trial. She also encouraged them to have the courage to stand up for others the way that so many stood up on New Year’s Day, 2012. Norma Pizana stood up for the rights of her driver. Buehler stood up for Pizana. Numerous witnesses then came forward to stand up for Buehler, including a witness who testified that Officer Robert Snider then threatened him with arrest. Finally, Jermaine Hopkins, an Austin Police Officer said that he couldn’t in good conscience allow Buehler’s civil rights to be violated, so he crossed the thin blue line to testify on behalf of the defense.
Thompson had a well prepared defense that included a T-chart that she wrote on a white board that compared the legal orders that were given by the officers versus the illegal orders. The legal orders side was left blank while the illegal orders side had at least a half dozen listed. She also questioned the notion that Buehler was a threat, highlighting that even Pizana who was in extreme distress as she was being assaulted knew that Antonio was holding a camera, not a potential weapon as asserted by City Prosecutor Matthew McCabe; that Buehler never got in the face of Oborski or Snider; and that Buehler never articulated a threat of any sort towards the police, but instead simply asked them why they were assaulting Pizana. As an alternative to him being a threat, she wrote on the other half of the whiteboard that what really bothered the police officers was that he questioned their manhood. He did so, Thompson said, because he was the one who was in control of himself that night; he questioned the cops on their aggressive assault of an unarmed, nonviolent woman; and he spoke to the police officers as if he were a father figure as Snider claimed, as if the cops were naughty little children.
The Prosecution then presented their closing arguments, again falling back on the notion that nothing the police said or did before the order to put hands behind the back mattered, and that Buehler could only be judged based on his decision not to at that point. They also argued that any police officer has the right to handcuff anyone so long as they deem the person a threat – an argument never presented before by Officer Oborski. The Assistant City Prosecutor who tried the case, Matthew McCabe, continued with his ethically questionable antics during closing arguments. He seemingly intentionally misstated the law over and over again, despite objections by the Defense. He also decided to demonstrate how palms forward, arms out to the side, may not be a universal symbol of non-aggression, but instead a very challenging aggressive stance. He threw his arms out to the side, threw his his chest forward, and stepped toward the jury numerous times demonstrating how Buehler’s efforts to deescalate a situation with a police officer who had assaulted him might actually be a threatening gesture. The move likely backfired, as several jurors who had seen videos showing only Oborski advancing toward Buehler, had looks of disgust on their face.
Buehler was elated at the ruling. He said, “Finally, after three years, I no longer have charges hanging over my head from an incident in which I saw two Austin Police Officers violently assault an innocent woman, and in which I was violently assaulted for filming and speaking out about the crimes of Officers Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider. The lengths that the City Attorneys and the Austin Police Department have gone to try to railroad me and permanently stain my record with a crime they know I didn’t commit are despicable. I hope that the people of Austin begin to realize that the police in this city are not here to protect and serve the people of Austin. I also hope that the people of Austin recognize the immense courage of the jury and all the witnesses who were willing to stand up and do the right thing, instead of folding under the threat of retaliation by the Austin Police Department.”
He went on to reiterate points made by his attorney Millie Thompson, “There were so many heroes in this trial. Norma stood up for Ashley. I stood up for Norma. Numerous people stood up for me at that 7-Eleven both that night and in the aftermath of my arrest. And during the trial a police officer stood up for me by crossing the thin blue line. And now five jurors stood up for justice in the face of lies and intimidation from the city prosecutors and police.
Thompson added, “APD delayed trial. APD withheld evidence. And the prosecution tried at every turn to protect APD by obstructing our ability to lay out the facts and law for the jury. The jury, however, saw this case for what it was, and said by their verdict: “Not Guilty.”
Antonio Buehler is an entrepreneur in the education space, a West Point, Stanford and Harvard graduate, and the founder of the police accountability activist group, the Peaceful Streets Project. Buehler currently has a pending Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Austin as well as several Austin Police officers, including Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider.
Those who showed up for the Class C Misdemeanor trial against Antonio Buehler on Monday were expecting to hear closing arguments and receive a jury verdict before lunch, but they were surprised to find that the case would not end by lunch. A juror walked in about an hour before the trial was expected to resume and asked the Judge to be excused from duty. The Defense and the Prosecution were both willing to allow the juror to leave for personal reasons; however, the subsequent move for a mistrial by City Prosecutor Matthew McCabe left many scratching their heads as to why the City of Austin was so eager to prevent a jury from making a decision in what has now become a four-day trial (over a seven day period).
Buehler’s defense lawyer Millie Thompson responded by moving to allow five jurors to deliberate in order to prevent forcing multiple witnesses from out of town to attend another trial, and to save the taxpayers the expense of another three- to four-day trial over a Class C Misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a $500 fine.
Spectators who have been watching the jury trial keep questioning the motives and tactics of McCabe and the City Prosecutor’s Office. While Buehler has Thompson to defend him, the City has had six to eight members of the Prosecutor’s Office assisting McCabe throughout the trial. In addition to being filled with City prosecutors, the courtroom has also been filled with Austin Police Department officers. Throughout the trial, there have been at least six police officers in uniform and in plain clothes passing time in the gallery. One of the spectators has been Assistant Police Chief Jason Dusterhoft. In his previous role as the Commander of Highway Enforcement, Dusterhoft oversaw both Officer Patrick Oborski, who Buehler alleges illegally assaulted and illegally arrested him on New Year’s Day, 2012, and Sergeant Adam Johnson, who Buehler alleges illegally arrested him on September 21, 2012. Both Oborski and Johnson are being sued by Buehler.
McCabe’s antics during the trial have been as unnerving for some as has the show of force by the Austin Police Department. In addition to trying to shame Norma Pizana, the woman who was initially assaulted by Officers Robert Snider and Patrick Oborski, he often distracted witnesses and jurors with countless huffs, puffs and sarcastic laughs. At one point, while Buehler was explaining how the action that Snider and Oborski took against Pizana was a recognized torture move, McCabe began to laugh, and was rebuked by Buehler for making light of torture. McCabe has also consistently misstated the law regarding reasonable suspicion, probable cause and Terry stops, and he has allowed his witnesses to do the same. Despite frequent objections by Thompson, McCabe has continued to push forward in the apparent hopes of convincing the jury that the officers were acting under circumstances that they had never before alleged or testified to.
Additionally, spectators and legal observers were dumbfounded when they heard that prosecutors had withheld discovery from the defendant. The defense did not receive the dash cam videos until 2 years and nine months after the initial arrest! Additionally, the prosecution never acknowledged that they had the 7-Eleven surveillance video until they realized the defense had acquired it through other channels.
Buehler said he was concerned about his right to a fair trial. “We came into this trial hoping that the truth would win out. Unfortunately, it seems that the Prosecution’s bully tactics and misconduct have gone far beyond just misleading the jury about the events of New Year’s 2012, it has now encroached upon prosecutorial misconduct as they are deliberately misleading the jury on what the law states.”
Buehler’s attorney Millie Thompson had more to say. “The City’s conduct regarding Antonio Buehler is almost like a law school exam: ‘How many Constitutional Law violations can you spot?’
“First, his First Amendment rights were violated by APD when they attacked him for asking questions and taking pictures. Then, APD officers illegally detained and assaulted him in retaliation for that First Amendment protected speech. Third, they let felony harassment of a public servant charges stay pending for more than a year when – we now know – the officer didn’t think there was any intentional conduct. By leaving the charges pending without informing his chain of command that he didn’t believe the alleged spit was intentional, he violated Mr. Buehler’s rights to Due Process. Fourth, the City put this Class C ticket on the back-burner for 2 years and 10.5 months before taking it trial – a violation of the Speedy Trial Clause.
“And, now, the piece de resistance: The City wants to violate the Double Jeopardy Clause by asking for a mistrial so they can have a do-over.
“I was born in Austin and went to Reagan High School. My parents were born here; my grandparents were born here. My great grandfather Kenneth Threadgill, who founded Threadgills, was born here. Austinites expect more from their local government than what they’ve seen in this case.”
Day four of the Buehler trial begins at 8:30 a.m., on Wednesday, October 28th at Courtroom #2A of the Austin Municipal Courthouse.
DEFENDANT’S MEMORANDUM OF LAW OPPOSING THE STATE’S MOTION FOR MISTRIAL: Opposition to Mistrial
Trial for the Controversial New Year’s Day Arrest of Antonio Buehler Concludes Monday, October 27th at Austin Municipal Court
Tomorrow morning, Monday, October 27th, at the Austin Municipal Courthouse, what has been perhaps the most exciting and tense Class C Misdemeanor trial in recent Austin history will finally come to a close.
On Friday, in a surprise move that would extend the trial into a third day, Austin City Prosecutor Matthew McCabe recalled Officer Robert Snider and called APD Academy Instructor Raul Carrillo to testify. Calling Snider back to the stand was a curious move, considering that Snider did not endear himself to the jury for the way he described his decision to pull Norma Pizana out of the passenger seat of a car for texting on her phone, and for his admission that he threatened to arrest a pedestrian bystander who observed the arrests of Buehler, Pizana and Hill. Snider ended up leaving the witness stand without answering a single question.
Officer Carrillo, the prosecution’s last minute star witness was perhaps an even bigger mistake. Without being qualified as an expert, Carrillo could not testify to the specifics of Buehler’s New Year’s Day arrest, so instead he was forced to answer hypothetical scenarios. McCabe tried to lead Carrillo down a path that would suggest that the actions of Officers Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider were justified. Buehler’s attorney Millie Thompson, meanwhile, walked Carrillo down a hypothetical path that mirrored the New Year’s Day arrest, leading Carrillo to acknowledge that Oborski should not have approached Buehler, should have probably backed up when he realized he was too close to Buehler, and that Oborski’s actions were tantamount to assault.
Earlier in the day the, Austin Police Officer Jermaine Hopkins crossed the “thin blue line” to testify on behalf of the defense. When asked why he chose to step forward, Hopkins said that he couldn’t in good conscience allow the Austin Police Department to trample upon Mr. Buehler’s civil rights. Hopkins helped correct what the Defense believed were misstatements by the Prosecutor, Oborski, and Snider about the law regarding probable cause and reasonable suspicion. Thompson later filed a motion with the judge to properly instruct the jury on the law before deliberations.
Additionally, Antonio Buehler had his opportunity to testify before the Defense rested their case. Buehler got choked up early on, describing how Pizana’s cried, “Help me please!” as Oborski and Snider ratcheted her arms up behind her back, but he recovered quickly to describe in detail everything that followed. Buehler continually referenced the videos as he explained how Oborski approached him and begin to shove and push him without cause, well before there was any claim of Oborski being spit on. Buehler also admitted to ignoring Oborski’s instructions to put his hands behind his back, as he deemed such instructions to be unlawful given what he believed were previous illegal acts by both Oborski and Snider. While Buehler’s testimony was expected to take 2-3 hours, McCabe apparently did not seem eager to question Buehler and quickly passed the witness.
“I was really disappointed that McCabe didn’t ask me more questions,” Buehler said. “He continued, “Every time McCabe asked me a question, we were able to highlight how malicious and dishonest their case is, which explains why he was so eager to get me off the stand. I hope the jury saw what was evident to everyone else in the courtroom—that unlike the prosecution, we didn’t have to try to keep our lies straight—all we had to do was speak the truth. I hope that the people of Austin are the next ones to recognize the incredibly disturbing lengths that the Austin Police Department and the City Prosecutors have taken to try to cover up the crimes of two corrupt cops.”
Buehler’s attorney Millie Thompson said, “The police arrested an innocent man. By doing so, they guaranteed a long and expensive court battle. We had a three day trial. Three police officers testified for the State. Six witnesses testified for the defense. Six Austinite jurors. The lost man-hours and State’s resources that went into prosecuting this frivolous Class C Misdemeanor with a maximum $500 fine are extraordinary – all to protect APD’s unconstitutional conduct. Do Austin tax payers want their money spent this way? ”
Antonio Buehler is an entrepreneur in the education space, a West Point, Stanford and Harvard graduate, and the founder of the police accountability activist group, the Peaceful Streets Project. Buehler currently has a pending Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Austin as well as several Austin Police officers, including Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider.
In response to the Austin Police Department’s (APD) continued attempts to prosecute Antonio Buehler, the Peaceful Streets Project will be launching a series of actions from October 21st to the 24th. They are attempting to convict him on several charges, to include a charge of failing to obey a “lawful order” associated with his controversial New Year’s Day, 2012 arrest. In a recent release from Antonio Buehler, he explained the initial arrest:
“On January 1, 2012, I saw two Austin cops assaulting a woman who had not committed a crime. When I tried to take pictures and question the cops, I was assaulted and charged with a felony crime of spitting in a cop’s face (2-10 year prison sentence).
Fortunately, numerous witnesses came forward, including one who took video of the incident. Every witness said the cop lied and the video proves it. However, the APD pushed forward with their charges against me.”
In March of 2013, APD failed to get a grand jury indictment against Antonio Buehler for any of the charges that he had been arrested on. However, they were curiously able to have him indicted on four Class C Misdemeanors for alleged crimes he was never arrested on, an unheard of action taken against a victim of police abuse by a grand jury. Antonio pushed forward with a civil suit in the wake of the grand jury ruling. In an attempt to undermine the validity of the civil suit, APD and the City Attorney are pushing forward on the Class C Misdemeanor charges even though Buehler was clearly exercising his First Amendment right according to SCOTUS. Through this action, the APD violated the 1st Amendment in practice, while hypocritically claiming to adhere to the law. The first court date is set for October 23rd at 8:30 a.m. at Municipal Courthouse courtroom #2A.
On Tuesday, October 21st, the Peaceful Streets Project will host a meeting to address the court case and to organize the direct actions we will be launching in response. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, October 21st, in the indoor back room of Spider House Cafe, 2908 Fruth St. The actions will begin with a ceremonial copwatch on the west end of North Lamar in the area of the initial incident on New Year’s Day, 2012. Then at night, after the first day in court we will launch continued copwatch in the west end district as well as copwatch actions throughout the 6th street area. It is believed that the officer in charge of the task force that initially arrested Antonio Buehler, Adam Johnson, has been reassigned to horse patrol on 6th street. These actions are prepared to continue nightly until a dismissal or non-guilty verdict is reached.
The court system belongs to the same corrupt system as the police department. Historically it heavily, if not infinitely, favors the police no matter how wicked their deed. But the streets themselves belong to the community of the people they assault, oppress and exploit. Here in these streets the Austin Police Department will answer for their deeds through the use of non-violent actions utilizing our First Amendment rights.