Update: For those of you who believe I am jumping to conclusions because the above video is “heavily edited,” please take a look at the two unedited videos.
But from what I’ve seen, not a single one has addressed the real issue at hand.
And that is, whether or not Bob Etheridge should be criminally charged.
A handful of sites have gone as far to state that Etheridge of North Carolina committed assault. At least one news site inaccurately called it a “tussle,” which would mean the videographer would be fighting back.
Most seemed to downplay the sheer physical aggression Etheridge displayed in the video.
The truth is, Etheridge committed battery which is a criminal offense.
Since posting the video Monday, I wrote to three Photography is Not a Crime readers who have extensive law enforcement experience.
One is an active police officer in South Florida (who is also a personal friend of mine), one is a former police officer in Maine who also worked as a cop in South Florida and another is a retired police officer living in New Mexico.
They all agreed that Etheridge committed battery.
But they also said that the videographer would have to come forward to make the complaint in order to follow through on criminal charges.
As it is now, the videographer is remaining anonymous, which is one reason why most of the news sites are being so soft on Etheridge.
They seem to believe that because the pair of videographers have refused to come forward and because one’s face was blurred in the video, that they were nothing but republican political operatives looking to sabotage Etheridge.
I’m as liberal as they come and I will tell you that it doesn’t matter if that was the case. Whomever they may have been and whatever their intentions may have been, the only person who did any sabotaging was Etheridge himself.
This is what the active police officer had to say when I asked if Etheridge committed battery and what needed to be done to pursue charges against the Congressman:
Absent some unknown information, like them doing something physical to him that we can’t see, ABSOLUTELY. He could claim a defense like self-defense if there was some behavior by the videographer(s), but this is very likely a battery.
Usually, for a misdemeanor (or simple) battery, the victim needs to take the report to the District Attorney or State Attorney and file charges. In this scenario there is no police involvement on scene, so the cops wouldn’t even have the option.
This is what the retired officer in New Mexico had to say:
It requires a complainant.
It is necessary to prove each and every element of the crime and the one element in the video that is not established is the “unlawful” touching or application of force. The question is, did the victim consider the touching unlawful or unwanted.
Examples, Sports; by the nature of the game there will be physical contact: Boxing, wrestling, football, soccer, and hockey; there are other sports that are not supposed to be physical, but are: basketball, auto racing such “incidental” contact is with “consent.”
Then there are the contacts that humans engage in the we all know are physical, but not unlawful: handshakes, congratulatory slap on the back, or the hug.
So the victim is necessary to establish that the contact was not consensual, thereby unlawful.
And this is what the former officer living in Maine had to say.
Hell yes, it’s battery. He had absolutely no right to lay a hand on that guy.
To charge someone, you have to have a willing victim. No victim, no crime. The video is plenty of evidence to use in court if the victim wants to press charges.
So the obvious question is, why isn’t the videographer coming forward?
I would imagine if it were true that the videographer was a republican plant, then he would step up and file charges to further bury the knife into Etheridge.
Because as it is now, Etheridge has already been left off the hook.