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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.

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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.