Home / Georgia Man Acquitted of Obstructing Charge for Recording Cop … but Barely

Georgia Man Acquitted of Obstructing Charge for Recording Cop … but Barely

Andrew Ogiba, the Georgia man arrested in November after video recording a traffic stop, was found not guilty of an obstruction charge Monday, but the judge could have easily gone the other way, despite the video evidence that showed he didn’t come close to obstructing.

The video shows that Ogiba was pulled over by Mcrae police officer B. Wyatt  for violating a noise ordinance because he was playing the music too loudly.

It also shows that Ogiba had already signed the citation and the cop was walking back to his car, but returned wished him a nice day. Seriously.

This is how I explained it in the original article:

At 3:42, Wyatt steps out of his vehicle and begins walking towards Ogiba’s car.

Ogiba asks the officer is he had used a measuring device to determine the noise decibels from his car.

Officer Wyatt ignores the question, ordering him to sign the citation, informing him that the music could be heard from 200 yards away.

Ogiba signs the citation but continues to ask if a measuring device had been used to determine the distance that the music could be heard.

At this point, both men are remaining civil and professional. Ogiba makes no secret that he is recording and Wyatt takes no issue with the camera.

Wyatt even tells him to “have a nice day” before walking back to his car and Ogiba responds by saying, “OK, you too.”

That’s when it all falls apart.

As Wyatt was walking back to his car, Ogiba speaks into his camera, saying, “he’s going back to his car, he refused to answer any of my questions.”

That caused Wyatt to stop in his tracks and turn around.

“Excuse me, sir,” Wyatt says as he starts walking back.

“I was talking to my camera,” Ogiba responds. “I said you refused to answer any of my questions and you can do that, that’s fine.”

That was when Wyatt orders him out of the parking lot, telling him it is private property.

Ogiba puts on his seat belt and places the key in his ignition, but then starts questioning whether or not the church parking lot was open to the public despite it being private.

He also made the mistake of asking for his name.

At 5:56, Wyatt opens the door to Ogiba’s car and orders him out, telling him he is being arrested for obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

Today, I received an email from Ogiba describing his court experience, which I am posting below.

So im the very last case to be heard, and the only one with the citing officer there to prosecute. I plead not guilty to both charges and the officer testifies first explaining what happened then I testify telling the judge this all occurred on private property. After testimony, the officer uses the dash cam video just as you said they would. There video is like 4 and a half minutes long, and the first 3 minutes nothing really happens.. besides the officer asking for my license and writing the ticket, I think everyone was getting bored, the judge started rolling his fingers on the desk lol.

 

After the video, the officer throws a huge curve ball, trying to justify the arrest for protecting his safety. He says he had a camera pointed at him during the stop (which I did, but for a combination of like 30 seconds for the whole stop). He also tells the judge when he was walking back to his vehicle he had his back to me and that in the modern world guns are small and cameras can be perceived as one. I rebutt and say at no point in the video does the officer draw any concern for his safety towards me and he had no problem with me recording him. They also editted the dash cam video they showed the judge, it was missing 3-4 minutes & they turned the audio off when they were talking to each other at one point after I was arrested and in the backseat of his patrol car (When the officer asked the other one if they really could arrest me)

 

The judge then takes a couple minutes and thinks. He said he will find my guilty on the loud music because of the officers testimony and consistencies in his story. I knew going in the loud music was going to be a losing battle because the statute is incredibly vague and capricious & that this is city court, they want revenue. I asked the officer if he used any device to measure distance or sound, and he did not but under the statute all the officer has to do is testify to this and its a done deal, there is no independently verifiable evidence needed – equivalent of a cop citing someone for speeding with no radar gun.

 

Now on the big one, the obstruction charge. The first words out of the judge’s mouth was “it was really close”, but he finds me not guilty. He explains about how hard a cops duty is and that I was “confrontational” but not “belligerent”. When he says this im thinking, well I guess the first amendment is weak to this judge and I think about all the supreme court disorderly conduct cases where people have sworn at the police and have been acquitted. At this point I can tell the judge bought a little into the safety bullshit the officer tried to bring up. The judge then says how it was close, but he will find me not guilty.

It really goes to show you how the system will always side with the cops, which is why we need to record all interactions with police.

Because if it wasn’t for the video presented in court, there is no doubt he would have been convicted of obstructing.

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.
  • eddy

    He wasn’t confrontational at all. The guy was polite. The cop was a dick.

  • HonorYourOath

    Oh how I would love to make a trip to McRae Ga and give that police department a street class on the constitution…HonorYourOath style! I would make Officer Wyat my favorite student as it seems he needs some special education. While I was there I would be sure to expose all of there favorite speed trap hiding spots.

  • Jeff

    This may or may not be anything more than an elected citizen who is not even an attorney. I am actually less concerned with that aspect as I am with the fact that the cop pretty much wins either way. He already got what he wanted – to be able to arrest this guy, make him take time out of his life, appear in court, go through the stress of it all. It really does not matter to the cop as he already scored the touchdown all the court was is the extra point. So the cop got his extra point blocked, he still got to score the touchdown. That’s what is so very sad.

    • HonorYourOath

      Since Officer Wyat’s main area of weakness seems to be in grasping the concept of the 1st Amendment I would focus my efforts there. I would teach him a lesson and then give him a test on why flipping of cops is a Constitutionally protected activity safe guarded by the 1st Amendment. Do think an essay on the topic would be to much to ask from Mr.Wyat?

      • George Freeman

        Guns are just now small? The Derringer I own fits in the palm of my hand and is designed to look like the originals from a long time ago.

        Police video or citizen video that has been altered is part of what kept at least one case from ever being tried. PINAC- Dec. 2, Indiana home video seizure.
        Ogiba stood his ground, did well, too bad it doesn’t make up for the mental hell he must have gone through.

  • steveo

    Also in FL, at least, the statute that limited stereo music coming from cars was found unconstitutional, overbroad, and vague. Because a Leo could detain, and ticket a driver for whatever the leo deemed was enough sound that he could hear 25 feet away.
    Legislature’s and municipalities are forever coming up with “quality of life laws” that are consitutionally questionable. That’s why people like us have to continually challenge these ridiculous statutes that are showing up in criminal courts that have no business being there. Where I live the city council is still trying to come up with an “ironclad” trespassing law that will keep the homeless off city sidewalks.

  • hazy

    Judges don’t have common sense anymore. This was a cop getting revenge for someone recording an encounter. The video shows that the cop was never in fear. We can’t rely on the courts they are full of lunatics.

  • nicmart

    The judge made the right call on both counts. Keep the video rolling and your music turned down.

  • Justashmo

    So asking questions is being confrontational? I guess you should just shut up and do what your told? Fucking system is broken this is fucked, you cant question authority without seeming like a criminal? what has this world come too!

  • freedomlover

    So is “refusing to cooperate”, how does that work when remaining silent?

    • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

      I don’t know how they handle that, and I’m not going to do a lot of research for a thread that is a year old.

  • steveo

    Defendants have to fight obstruction/interfering charges based on the law and precedent. In most states, the case law indicates that there has to be some physical nature to the obstruction and that words alone rarely rise to the level of obstruction. This has to be so because otherwise the Statute would intercect with the 1st Amendment. In this man’s case there was no physical nature to the obstruction, but because this is a low level case (here there is no indication that the State had a prosecutor and he may not have had the right to a jury) and this is probably a justice of the peace or magistrate, the leos usually prevail on contempt of cop cases.

  • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

    Georgia case law does not require any physical nature, on the contrary, the Georgia courts construe the statute so broadly that a subject “acting” like he was “going to flee” and “refusing to cooperate” with the investigation supported a conviction. See Frasier v. State, 672 S.E.2d 668 (Ga. App. 2009).

    You would almost have to take this to U.S. District Court for a determination that the law is overbroad.

  • Burgers Allday

    On the other hand, last time I checked (2010(?)), Georgia was one of the few states that has not yet overruled the old commonlaw rule that a person is privileged to resist an unlawful arrest.

  • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-LawStudent

    True, but it’s not something I would advise. You run a lot fewer risks by taking it up in court at a later date than resisting at the time. People that resist rarely win that fight, it allows the officers to escalate the use of force, and you’re put in the position of fighting additional charges in court.

    The way Carlos handled his arrests is a better (and safer) option.

  • Burgers Allday

    be that as it may, it means the issue of the lawfulness of Ogiba’s arrest was lot more relevant than it would be in most other jurisdictions.

    For example, if he had been convicted for the noise thing, then he may have been able to get reversed on the resisting charge (as a matter of law) by showing unConstitutionality of the noise ordinance — precisely because of his Georgian privilege to resist unlawful arrests.

    the right to resist unlawful arrest matters even in many cases where that right is not vigorously exercised.

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