Deliberations in the trial of Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler lasted five hours before a Texas jury returned with a not guilty verdict Wednesday after an Austin police officer surprisingly testified on Buehler’s behalf – most likely losing his job in the process.
Buehler was on trial for an incident that occured on New Years Eve of 2012 where he witnessed Austin officers abusing the passenger of a vehicle during a routine DWI stop. The stop was being conducted by the now-infamous officers Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider when Buehler began taking pictures, sparking a verbal confrontation.
Buehler probed the officers with questions as he took pictures of the male officers holding the female passengers in a torture hold, known as the Strappado where her arms were cuffed behind her back and pulled upwards. Buehler can be heard in the video asking officers, “What are you doing?”
And the West Point grad described the hold as ‘being meant for causing extreme pain.”
The verbal confrontation turned into a physical struggle as Oborski agressively approached Buehler. As Oborski approached, Buehler put his hands in the air to show he wasn’t a threat to any of the officers and began asking “why are you touching me?”
Oborski then issues an unlawful order telling Mr. Buehler to put his hands behind his back.
He never did that.
Oborski then wrestles Buehler to the ground, prior to booking him on trumped up felony charges alleging Buehler spit in Oborski’s face–a charge for which he faced a potential 2-10 years in prison.
The lie about spit in Oborksi’s face never happened and luckily for Antonio Buehler someone was filming across the street to prove that it never happened.
The biggest bombshell came when Oborski testified against himself. He testified to the jury that it was actually just a little bit of ‘spittle’ and that when Buehler was asking him questions that he had managed to somehow get a little ‘spittle’ on his face. This implies what Buehler and others have been saying for three years now. That Buehler never spit in that cop’s face. Oborski made it all up and tried to send him to prison for contempt of cop. The video is proof of that.
The gravity of this case carries many implications, not only about the character of the Austin Police Department throughout the ranks, but the trial also holds implications for a future civl lawsuit against Oborski. In Texas, it’s typically, according to most lawyers here, a tough row to hoe if you want to sue the government. Tort laws make it seemingly more difficult than most states.
But the judge in Buehler’s civil case allowed that Obroski can be sued in his personal capacity and that the claim Buehler filed against Oborski can go forward.
Surprise cop witness
There were a few surprises throughout this trial (perhaps well thought out by Buehler and his legal team). If any one is ever relentless about the notion that there really aren’t any good cops, it’s Buehler. But during this trial, Buehler surprised the prosecution with a star witness, Austin police officer Jermaine Hopkins, who was told by APD brass that if he testified, he would lose his job by October 30th, which is today.
Hopkins testified anyway, telling jurors that Buehler had broken no law and that his fellow officers had violated his Constitutional rights by arresting him.
Hopkins has a hearing tomorrow to determine his fate with the department. He said he sent Buehler an email after seeing his case and wanted to testify out of concern that Buehler’s rights were being violated.
Hopkins said in an interview with PINAC after the verdict that there are some good things about his department, but ulitmately he has no regrets and that he did the right thing by testifying. He also said if he could change anything it would be “accountability at the administrative level.”
When asked by a bystander in the courtroom what his future holds, Hopkins said he is thinking about going to law school.
Another surpise occured at the beginning of the trial when one juror asked to be released from the jury citing personal troubles. Buehler’s attorney, Millie Thompson said the juror was having symptoms of mental illness including paranoia and an inability to make a decision in a jury, because of fear from a group.
Although, the juror never specified to the court any particular group. Thompson said she didn’t object to the juror being dismissed. But she did object to the state’s request for a mistrial.
The Judge sided with Thompson and the trial went on with only five jurors.
The deciding jury was made up of two males and three females, one who worked as a writer for Beavis and Butthead. None were interested in commenting to PINAC or any other media outlet. But we caught up with Buehler and Hopkins outside the courtroom.
When asked after the trial what the future holds for Buehler’s activist group, Peaceful Streets Project, a group that films on duty cops, Buehler replied, “Hopefully, to grow it.”
But he also has three more charges to fight as well as a civil suit to pursue as he explains in the video below.
Ben Keller resides in Austin, Texas, where much of his activism centers around advocating for parents lost in the CPS system. Ben believes in government accountability and thinks the public should have more access to court rooms. He is a volunteer for Peaceful Streets Project as well as other groups who shine light on government corruption. He studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at BenKKeller@yahoo.com.