For the first seven minutes of the video, Jason Morrison comes across as a nerdy engineer, obsessed with a set of traffic lights at a city intersection in Ohio, ensuring every car abides by every law, while counting the seconds it takes each light to change.
But that was before he was confronted by an off-duty cop in uniform, who shined a flashlight into his lens, demanding to know why he was video recording from a public sidewalk.
That was when Morrison turned into a sharp Constitutionalist, maintaining a professionalism demeanor while refusing to succumb to the cop’s intimidation tactics.
He was also sure not to break any petty law as he left the area, remaining on a public sidewalk until he was stopped by a pair of uniformed cops, who demanded his identification.
The first cop who stopped him was from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, insisting he received “a call” about Morrison, which was why Morrison was required to hand over his identification.
Another trooper arrived and began peppering him with personal questions, which Morrison refused to answer. Morrison also refused to share his identification with that trooper.
But then Austintown police officer Adam Hess entered the scene and arrested Morrison for refusing to provide identification, despite the fact that all he was doing was video recording from a public sidewalk.
And that “call” they received was obviously from the off-duty cop, whose name we are still trying to obtain, but is believed to work at the Austintown Police Department.
Morrison almost caved when he announced he was providing his identification “under duress,” but then he changed his mind when the Hess told him the call was about video recording from public.
Morrison ended up spending two nights in jail on a charge of failure to disclose one’s personal information.
But the landmark 1968 Terry vs. Ohio case, which should be common knowledge for every cop in that state, made it clear that citizens do not have to provide their identification unless the officer has reasonable suspicion that they are involved with a crime. If a person does not have identification, then that person must identify themselves.
Video recording traffic lights from a public sidewalk does not meet those standards as many court cases since then have ruled that photography is protected by the First Amendment.
“I wasn’t out there looking for trouble,” Morrison said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime. “I was just filming the traffic lights. Sometimes there are a lot of drivers who run the red lights.”
Although he didn’t plan to interact with cops, he was prepared for the worst, which was why he was live streaming.
He is now looking for an attorney to help him beat this case. Read the arrest report below. An edited video is below.
Call the Austintown Police Department at 330-799-9721 or leave a review on their Facebook page.
Click here to see the full-length video of Jason Morrison’s arrest.