Officers arrested Austin activist Antonio Buehler because they say his act of filming an arrest interfered with the officers’ ability to do their jobs, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Buehler, 35, was charged with interference with public duties, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail, after he and two others were filming a man’s arrest about 1:10 a.m. Sunday. The man objected to being filmed and threatened Buehler.
Commander Troy Gay said police support the public’s right to film in public but asks them to give them space when necessary to conduct official duties. Buehler runs the Peaceful Streets Project, which focuses on police accountability, including filming police encounters and posting them online. He said that he has found citizens who take exception to being filmed. “We can’t expect people to understand why we’re doing it, but people are safer when the police are being filmed,” he said. Gay said he would like people filming the police to stay 50 to 60 feet away. This is not a police policy, but Gay said department officials are working on guidelines for officers to follow.