AUSTIN, TEXAS – A man arrested New Year’s Day after filming a traffic stop was taken into custody a second time early Sunday while he was videotaping officers detaining an intoxicated man downtown, his attorney told reporters outside the Travis County Jail.
Antonio Buehler, 35, organizer of the Peaceful Streets Project, is facing a charge of interference with public duty, his attorney Joe James Sawyer said Sunday afternoon. The lawyer said his client was detained at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday on Sixth Street.
Austin police officials confirmed that officers had arrested Buehler but did not release further information, saying they were reviewing the facts of the case. An arrest warrant affidavit had not been released as of late Sunday.
Sawyer called Buehler’s arrest a “deliberate action and part of a calculated effort to protect the officer who arrested him New Year’s Day.”
Buehler, an Army veteran, was arrested at about 1:15 a.m. Jan. 1 and charged with harassment of a public servant after he stopped to take photographs of a drunken driving arrest at a Central Austin gas station, according to court records. Austin police said Buehler interfered with the arrest of a woman involved in a traffic stop. The arrest affidavit said Buehler became aggressive and spat in the face of one officer, which Buehler denies.
He filed a complaint against the arresting officers, who were cleared by an internal affairs investigation in July. Buehler said that charges filed against him in that incident are still pending and accused police of stretching out the case.
After that arrest, he founded the Peaceful Streets Project, which focuses on police accountability, including filming police encounters and posting them online. He was awarded the Activist of the Year award Saturday night by Texans for Accountable Government.
About a dozen activists, including some with Buehler’s organization, waited for him Sunday outside of the Travis County Jail. They cheered and clapped when he walked out of the complex Sunday afternoon.
Buehler told the crowd he was arrested on “fabricated facts” while out filming arrests on Sixth Street and that his video camera was confiscated. A video of Buehler’s arrest posted Sunday by a fellow activist shows a police officer asking Buehler to step back several times. Buehler refused to do so, and he calmly allowed himself to be arrested.
Wayne Vincent, president of the Austin Police Association, said the watchdog group “has created a very dangerous situation.”
“In our opinion, it was just inevitable that he was going to be arrested,” Vincent said of Buehler. “This group is not about filming police officers. It is a group that has shown that it actually wants to provoke officers and interject themselves into the scene where officers are working.”