Georgia deputies not only unlawfully arrested a man who was video recording from a public sidewalk, they blatantly harassed him as he was being interviewed by a local television crew about the initial incident.
Unfortunately, neither the news crew nor any local lawyers interviewed were able to publicly state what we can all see in these videos.
That the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is doing nothing more but abusing their power through sheer intimidation tactics.
It started on June 2 when Matthew Haley was standing on a street corner video recording cars rolling through a stop sign.
He was approached by two deputies who demanded his identification because they found him suspicious.
But Haley refused to provide identification on the basis that he was not doing anything that would give them reasonable suspicion that he was committing a crime (other than holding his phone vertically as he records).
They quickly snatched the phone from him and arrested him on obstructing charges, even though they were the ones obstructing his First Amendment right to video record from a public street.
Then on July 4, as he was interviewed by a reporter from WRDW-TV in Augusta, deputies marched up to him and demanded his identification, even though it is not against the law to talk to reporters.
But the television reporters were apparently confused about this, so they sought out answers from lawyers, including one who stated that police have the right to question you, but you also have the right to walk away if they are not legally detaining you.
Other attorneys said it boils down to a “case-by-case basis to be decided by the courts.”
None of the lawyers were able to give a specific answer about this particular case where it was obvious the deputies unlawfully arrested him, then harassed him, for the sole reason that he was not afraid to assert his rights in not providing his identification if he was not being suspected of a crime.
WRDW-TV then gave Richmond County Sheriff Sgt. Michael McDaniel the platform to state that they were merely harassing Haley for safety reasons in order to prevent another Boston Marathon bombing or Sandy Hook shooting, neither which involved any of the culprits video recording beforehand.
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Perhaps we should set the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office straight on the law through their Facebook page. Or you can just call them at (706) 821-1000.