A Florida man with a video camera was threatened with arrest today after he asked a deputy for his badge number, indicating the Marion County Sheriff’s Office has learned nothing from its settlement this year where it paid $30,000 to a couple who were arrested for the same thing.
James Butler of Florida Copwatch said he was driving when he noticed a deputy’s patrol parked in the street as he was investigating another car that appeared to have been abandoned in a grassy area off the street.
Butler said he was concerned because the deputy was creating a traffic hazard when he could easily have pulled up a few feet and pulled off the road to allow traffic to flow freely.
Butler, in fact, did just that, parking his car off the side of the road before walking towards the deputy with his camera.
However, he remained across the street and did not say a word as the deputy stepped into the car and around it, jotting down notes in a pad.
It was not until the deputy was finished and was about to step back into his patrol car when Butler finally addressed him.
“Can I get your name and badge number?” Butler asked.
The Florida deputy, who was oblivious to the traffic his patrol car was block, was apparently just as oblivious to Butler who had been standing for several minutes because he seemed genuinely surprised by his presence.
The deputy asked Butler to repeat himself, which Butler did.
That was when he threatened him with arrest.
“You got five seconds to leave or I will arrest you for obstruction,” the deputy said.
But the video shows that if anybody was obstructing, it was the deputy who was obstructing traffic.
Butler, who did not want to get arrested, did not push the matter further, but was sure to record the deputy’s license plate, which was 59299.
The back of the deputy’s car also said, “Serving with Honor, Protecting with Pride.”
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office made national headlines last year when they arrested Jason and Stacey Pomales outside a house party.
Jason was arrested for asking questions and his wife was arrested after she asked for a deputy’s name and badge number. Stacey recorded the incident, which went viral in a video you can see below.
There is no federal or state law that requires law enforcement officers to identify themselves when asked by citizens, but most departments have policies that require this.
However, many law enforcement agents believe they have the right to withhold this information while insisting we have to identify ourselves, even if they have no reasonable suspicion that we have committed a crime.
It is not clear if the Marion County Sheriff’s Office has such a policy, but maybe you guys can call them at (352) 402-6080 or the numbers below:
Mon – Fri, 8am to 5pm: (352) 732-8181
Non-Emergency 24-hour: (352) 732-9111
See if you can obtain this deputy’s name while you’re at it.
UPDATE: He appears to be Timothy Fretts, who only became a deputy in March, according to a post on the sheriff’s Facebook page, where they have been deleting comments from PINAC readers, which means they have now opened themselves up to a lawsuit.
Do you think he is the same guy in the photo below?