Police Caught Framing Open Carry Activist at DUI Checkpoint
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As America discusses yet another deadly police shooting, the name Terence Crutcher becomes a “viral” hashtag. And as many argue that yet another hashtag won’t make a dent in helping to put an end to the systemic violence associated with law enforcement, Washington Post’s Radley Balko continues to report on all kinds of police abuse cases, bringing certain stories to light that seldom get any air time due to their less than dramatic developments.
According to Balko, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Connecticut filed a lawsuit against the local police on behalf of Michael Picard, an open carry gun rights activist.
Picard was targeted by the local police while he was protesting a DUI checkpoint in September of 2015. He positioned himself ahead of the checkpoint, holding up a sign that read “cops ahead, remain silent.”
ACLU of Connecticut Legal Director Dan Barrett explained that, as soon as the police was made aware of Picard’s silent and legal protest, state officers working the checkpoint approached the protester and proceeded to slap the camera out of his hand. As the officer carries on, believing the camera had been broken, Picard is searched.
As an open carry activist, Picard had been carrying a gun in plain sight all along, making it easy for officers to find it immediately. Nevertheless, the officer in question announces he found a gun as loud as possible. As the officers check his permit and run a check on his records, Picard picks up his camera, prompting the officer to say “taking my picture is illegal.”
Nonsense, Barett says.
As Picard debates the officer over his constitutional rights, the officer “snatches” the camera from Picard’s hands and places it on top of the police cruiser.
Thankfully, the camera was still recording.
What happens next is why Picard is now suing the Connecticut police.
According to the footage, three troopers are caught talking about what they should do next. As they see Picard’s permit is valid, they say “oh crap. … we gotta punch a number on this guy.” Meaning they should “open an investigation in the police database.” The officer then says, “we really gotta cover our a*ses.”
They proceed, discussing what to do about Picard without facts to back their story. During at least eight minutes, they attempt to get to a conclusion as to how better they will “cover their” butts.
At no time, Balko explains, did the cops think of giving Picard his camera back and telling him he was free to go.
Toward the end of this ordeal, the officers get to the conclusion of charging Picard with two criminal infractions: “reckless use of a highway by a pedestrian,” and “creating a public disturbance.”
Thanks to Picard’s camera, we know the officers discuss how to support the public disturbance charge until a supervisor comes up with a plan.
“What we say,” he tells the other officers, “is that multiple motorists stopped to complain about a guy waving a gun around, but none of them wanted to stop and make a statement.”
After filing a complaint that led to nowhere, the ACLU took on the case.
Regardless of where Americans stand on gun rights or law enforcement, Picard’s right to protest the checkpoint in peace while carrying a weapon should always be upheld.
The same way pulling over and reaching out to the police with your arms raised should not give officers an excuse to practice target shooting over your helpless body.