John Kurtz, the founder of Orlando Copwatch, was arrested on New Year’s Eve after attempting to videotape a police investigation in public.
Police say he approached them with a camera as an officer was trying to control a domestic violence suspect. Police say he told the officer to “calm down because he was on camera,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Police say they ordered him to back off, but Kurtz ignored that command, shoving the officer in the chest instead.
Police say they had no choice but to tackle and arrest him, charging him with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest without violence and obstructing or opposing a police officer.
Considering that everybody agrees that Kurtz was videotaping that night, it should be easy to prove his innocence or guilt in this case.
The problem is, the videotape and camera have apparently gone missing.
According to Orlando Copwatch’s webpage:
Kurtz’s Video Camera with the evidence on it that would easily clear or condemn him of these charges mysteriously went missing. It was not in Kurtz’s personal effects when he was released from Jail, nor was it entered into evidence. It is unknown what happened to Kurtz’s camera however at best it reflects negligence on the Orlando Police Department for failure to secure evidence, At worst shows absolute corruption and evidence tampering.
Kurtz, who spent seven days in jail for that incident, is now facing six years in prison. He is scheduled to go to trial on May 16. His supporters have created a Facebook page to encourage people to attend the trial in his support.
The cop who arrested him is Adam Gruler, who has been described as a “hunter” by the Orlando Sentinel because of his penchant for using his Taser.
Orlando Copwatch says other people were shooting video that night that supports Kurtz’s innocence, but I haven’t been able to find any videos from that night (please post them if you find them).
However, there are several other videos that show Kurtz is an activist with a camera, including the one below, not that there is anything illegal about that.