A U.S. Army serviceman was arrested by Georgia police for “obstruction of law enforcement” despite the fact that his crime amounted to nothing more than asking questions while filming cops during a traffic stop.
19-year-old Andrew Ogiba, a two year member of the U.S. Army, was charged, arrested and hauled off to jail for little more than narrating into his camera and asking a police officer questions during the incident in Mcrae, Georgia, which began when Ogiba was stopped and given a citation for loud music.
The video of the incident shows Ogiba talking to his camera about how he had already been fined for loud music after a previous citation, but that he believed the noise citation was unconstitutional after speaking with the ACLU.
After Ogiba pulled into the empty parking lot of a church, an officer wrote up the citation before approaching Ogiba’s vehicle.
Conducting himself with the officer politely, Ogiba asks the cop, officer B. Wyatt, if he was able to determine if the noise violation had broken the law by using a measuring device. Wyatt refuses to answer, merely claiming that the music could be heard from 200-300 yards away.
Ogiba continues to co-operate with Wyatt, signs the citation and then indicates that he will fight the issue in court.
Wyatt is clearly aware that Ogiba is recording the exchange and makes no issue of the fact. Wyatt then says “have a nice day,” to which Ogiba responds “OK, you too,” and the officer begins to walk away from his car as Ogiba continues to narrate to his camera, pointing out that Wyatt refused to answer his questions about the noise citation.
Wyatt then stops suddenly and states, “Excuse me, sir,” before walking back towards Ogiba’s car.
“I was talking to my camera,” Ogiba responds. “I said you refused to answer any of my questions and you can do that, that’s fine.”
Wyatt orders Ogiba to leave the car park. Ogiba complies, putting on his seatbelt and begins to start up his car and leave. However, when Ogiba asks whether the church car park is open to the public as well as politely asking for the officer’s name, Wyatt orders Ogiba to exit the vehicle and tells him that, “It’s time to lock you up for obstruction of law enforcement.”
Apparently, asking questions of a police officer and/or filming them now amounts to “obstruction of law enforcement” and is an arrestable offense.
Ogiba spent the next 2 and a half hours in jail and was forced to pay a $498 bail charge on top of a $150 car impound charge. Ogiba plans to file a lawsuit against the state of Georgia for unreasonable arrest.
“I’ve already emailed the ACLU and will be talking to a lawyer tomorrow,” he said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
The incident in Georgia follows the arrest of Californian Daniel J. Saulmon, who was jailed for four days for attempting to record police officers on a public street during a traffic stop. Saulmon was arrested for failing to identify himself despite the fact that there is no law in California that requires citizens to produce identification.
Despite the fact that the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that “The filming of government officials while on duty is protected by the First Amendment,” police continue to wrongly arrest citizens for doing so.
Despite innumerable cases where charges have been dropped against citizens arrested for filming police, and in some cases authorities being forced to pay out cash settlements, the myth that it is illegal to film police officers still continues to proliferate, including apparently amongst police officers themselves who continue to arrest people for crimes that don’t exist.