Maui Police Arrest Newspaper Publisher for Video Recording Traffic Checkpoint

Tommy Russo, the newspaper publisher assaulted by a cop last year while trying to record on the set of Dog the Bounty Hunter, was arrested this week while trying to record a police check point in Maui.

The video shows Russo pulling up the checkpoint, stepping out of his car and coming across a police officer who had Russo walk back to his car and turn on his hazards, but didn’t take too much issue with him recording the checkpoint after that.

But then Russo came across a second cop who took great issue with Russo recording the checkpoint, ordering him to move away from the area.

When Russo asserted his rights, he was arrested.

Russo, who runs the weekly Maui Time was charged with “obstructing a government operation,” but the video doesn’t show much obstructing.

At least not by the standards as it is written in the Hawaiian law books, which defines the charge as the following:

A person commits the offense of obstructing government operations if, by using or threatening to use violence, force, or physical interference or obstacle, the person intentionally obstructs, impairs, or hinders:

(a)   The performance of a governmental function by a public servant acting under color of the public servant’s official authority;

(b)   The enforcement of the penal law or the preservation of the peace by a law enforcement officer acting under color of the law enforcement officer’s official authority; or

(c)   The operation of a radio, telephone, television, or other telecommunication system owned or operated by the State or one of its political subdivisions.

(2)  This section does not apply to:

(a)   The obstruction, impairment, or hindrance of the making of an arrest; or

(b)   The obstruction, impairment, or hindrance of any governmental function, as provided by law, in connection with a labor dispute with the government.

Police were conducting checkpoints to look for over-sized tires and illegal tints, which ended up backing traffic up for miles, prompting Russo to investigate with his camera.

Maui police officer Rusty Lawson

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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