A Photography is Not a Crime crew member who was battered by an apparent DEA agent last month for video recording in public filed a complaint with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, forcing detectives to investigate the incident and take some type of action.
The fact that Thomas Covenant is 69 years old takes it from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. No different than if Covenant would have done the same to the agent, with the exception that Covenant would have been immediately thrown in jail.
“Battery on a senior citizen is treated the same as battery on a law enforcement officer in Florida,” explained attorney Eric Friday, who accompanied Covenant and Jeff Gray to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Monday to file the complaint.
But Friday is a realist.
“Do I expect the agent to face punishment?
Do I expect the public to see how this works?
And that is the whole point of filing the complaint, to show people that we can take action against abusive law enforcement officers, even if it does result in inaction.
If anything, it further proves the hypocrisy of the legal system. And it further proves the importance of recording every interaction with law enforcement officers.
After all, Covenant and Gray were accused of disorderly conduct, according to the 911 call posted below, which appears to have been made by the DEA agent.
Now that Covenant filed the complaint, detectives will need to interview the agent, who never provided his name or badge number, but was seen walking back into the Drug Enforcement Administration building with three other agents who had confronted Gray and Covenant earlier for video recording.
Detectives can then either refer the case to the state attorney’s office or can just determine that no crime was committed, the latter which is more likely to happen.
Either way, Covenant can also file a complaint with the Jacksonville State attorney’s Office, which he plans to do.
But considering this involves a federal agent, then the United States Department of Justice will get involved, relieving the state attorney’s office from having to take any action.
And then the incident will likely go away, Friday said.
Nevertheless, Friday still intends to file a civil suit against the agent for violation of Covenant’s civil rights, which would then prompt the agent to demand qualified immunity, proving once again that law enforcement officers are above the law.