UPDATE 9/23: In response to some who would say that this Austin Police Officer had any right to execute an arrest in the below video, it is important to note firstly that the officer did not reasonably articulate commission of any crime, solely saying that they were in a “high prostitution, high drug area.”
Austin’s municipal ordinance against loitering or as they call it, “Manifesting the Purpose of Selling An Illegal Drug or Chemical” defines specifically that the officer must have knowledge of a prior conviction of the suspect for dealing illicit drugs. The Austin police officer in the video also never articulated his claim of loitering or “manifesting” when demanding an illegal search.
The Austin ordinance says that, “It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this article if the explanation given the arresting officer under Section 9-5-63(B) (Factors Relating to Arrest for Violation) is true and discloses a lawful purpose.” (author’s emphasis).
When Rick said that he was eating a hamburger, the officer was completely bereft of probable cause to search the citizen, since no arrest under the local ordinance would be then possible.
This story also contains an update with a Google map of the location of the incident provided by the victim after the original story was published.
This recently posted to YouTube arrest in Austin, Texas shows the five stages of police deciding to falsely arrest a citizen who contacted PINAC News and wishes to be called “Rick”.
The YouTube video’s original caption to the video at the bottom of this story says it all: “Bought a burger and pulled over to have a few bites. I suppose that constitutes probable cause?”
Fortunately, the citizen who identified himself to PINAC’s investigators as Rick pulled out his phone and started recording when the Austin cop approached the vehicle which had its window already down as the officer approached and Rick asked, “Why am I getting pulled out of my car?”
“Because you’re being detained.” answered the unknown Austin PD officer without stating the reason for a criminal detention. A call to Austin’s police non-emergency number resulted in little information, but a request for the reporter’s address to determine “jurisdiction” which is not required to make a public records request in Texas.
Rick immediately asked, “Why am I being detained?”
“Let’s see. It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and you’re in a parked here by yourself in a high prostitution, high drug area.”
Rick interjected loudly, you could hear the frustration coupled with embarrassment in his voice as he said in a slightly high pitched voice, “EATING A HAMBURGER.”
Eating a hamburger still is not a crime.
More importantly, the Austin police officer didn’t accuse Rick of any moving violation, parking violation or criminal infraction. If the officer can’t articulate, say in english perhaps or whatever Austin cops call their repetitive use of four word sentences is called.
Remember, this isn’t a traffic stop.
This Austin officer had no authority to search a car, ask for ID or arrest anyone without probable cause. No authority to pat down for a gun or anything.
PINAC readers might find this reminiscent of Roy Leeshun Williams’ calmly asserting his rights while eating oatmeal, which became a viral video where he cooly kept his window rolled up as a Virginia officer tried the same dubious approach to a man eating in his car with the vehicle turned off. We spoke with Roy earlier this year in an exclusive PINAC Live! interview and he explained in detail the best way to handle these kinds of situations too.
In truth, any police officer could walk up to any person in America, in any neighborhood simply claiming that the “area” is suspicious. Certainly, it doesn’t sound like the individualized suspicion required for a search or probable cause for an arrest.
UPDATE 9/23: In response to reader comments, the below map depicts where Rick told the author where he was waiting for friends at the time of the incident:
Even the stop and frisk or “Terry Stop” requires the cop to say what actual criminal act he suspects the citizen of committing.
But this is Texas that we’re talking about, and cops have declared war on citizens of Texas – and particularly in Austin – for the crime of wanting less deadly public safety agencies patrolling their streets.
And so the exchange continued as the officer’s fishing expedition to put his grubby hands on a citizen’s stuff without a warrant, without probable cause and without saying what if anything that citizen might be doing to break any law. And so the exchange continued and intensified as the Austin police officer pressed his “case” and demanded Rick to leave the car.
“And when I step out and I don’t have any drugs on me, then what?” asked Rick.
“Nothing.” replied the still unidentified Austin PD Officer “Ok, What do you mean then nothing?” asked the uncaused man in his car.
“Hand me your driver’s license,” demanded the Austin officer.
Increasingly, Rick became fearful, it’s evident from his tone of voice as the two exchanged words passing in the night, but never the twain meeting of a conversation.
“You have not right, I’m not driving,” said Rick three times in rapid succession followed by the cop repeating his demand to, “Hand me your id,” twice.
Rick continued to state that “I’m not driving, I’m waiting for someone to come here, out of those apartments, that’s what I’m doing,” to which the Austin police officer replied, “That’s not what you just told me.”
Rick’s next reply should’ve settled the matter.
“Doesn’t matter, this is my right as an American Citizen to do what I please. I’m not getting out of the car.”
In Soviet Russia, citizens required all manner of papers and permissions to do many typical activities. However, in the America we used to know, we were allowed to come and go as we please, protected by our Fourth Amendment rights from arbitrary searches by police, and from arbitrary seizures of our person.
But there’s a Drug War, and a War on Cops and all of that ads up to officers each applying their very own special forms of street justice. Luckily for the officers, the cities, states and counties pick of the bill for the subsequent arrests, while they seek any reason at all to hide behind qualified immunity.
Without further warning, the Austin cop opened the door and pulled Rick out of the car.
The cop then started repeating the phrase “Get out of the car” religiously, in the mantra or manner we’re used to hearing police chant “Stop Resisting” as if saying something repeatedly while violating civil rights somehow excuses the anti-social behavior of a law enforcement officer breaking the law.
Rick replied, “I didn’t do anything, I’m not getting out of the car! You’re not taking my cellphone from me!”
“I did not do anything illegal,” said Rick as the Austin cop forcibly removed him from the car. Rick continued speaking and capturing everything on his cellphone:
I will turn around, this is all being recorded and being uploaded to YouTube right now, I didn’t do anything. As soon as my friends come down here, they’re gonna see that I’m being harassed for nothing.
Knock it off, knock it off.
I didn’t do anything I swear. You’re not taking my phone from me.
The Austin police officer then said, “I’m not trying to take your phone, now put your hands behind your back.” and promptly ended the recording.
While we cannot confirm it from the recording, most likely the Austin PD officer stopped the camera since Rick would have no logical desire to stop recording a false arrest on his phone.
It looks like once again Austin Police Chief Art Ascevedo is going to have to rush to the aid of yet another rogue officer.
Is America still America if we citizens have so little liberty that openly protesting our right to simply do what we want isn’t enough to push the palpable long arm of the law away from our persons or our cameras?
Maybe this time, Chief Ascevedo will promptly dismiss the rogue officer for clearly violating a citizen’s right to be free of burdensome search and seizures.
Because if he doesn’t, I’m sure Rick’s future attorney will.
Ed. Note: Felipe Hemming contributed to this report. On 9/23 the phrase “recently recorded” was changed to “recently posted to YouTube” to reflect discussions with the victim after the original story was published.