When a man fires a gun in the woods on video, CNN doesn’t come calling.
But when a flying robot fires a gun in the woods on video, the police chief, CNN and the FAA all come calling.
After much media attention, it was determined that Austin Haughwout of Clinton, Connecticut, broke no local laws by firing a gun with his remote-controlled quadcopter, then posting a video on it on Youtube.
But that didn’t stop the local police chief from arresting him anyway on a contempt-of-cop charge, a teen you may remember from our story last year when he was attacked by a woman for flying a drone on the beach.
On Wednesday, Haughwout, was ordered by police to turn himself in on a warrant for an incident that took place July 19 when they pulled up to him in the public library parking lot and he pulled away after telling them he was just using the library’s wi-fi and confirming he was not suspected of committing a crime.
But they knew who he was and knew he flew drones with guns, so they called for backup, fearing for their lives.
So more cops arrived and had him surrounded with him keeping his window up, not speaking to them, before they allowed him to go, knowing they could just file an arrest warrant on him.
It caught up to him Wednesday when they called him and told him to turn himself in. But when he arrived to the station, he changed his mind and tried to leave.
That was when they became aggressive, resulting in him facing two counts of assault on a police officer in addition to the interfering charge from the day they interfered with him at the library, the video of that posted below.
He came to the department at about 8 p.m. and began arguing with the officer who was trying to arrest him, according to the report, and another officer saw Haughwout trying to leave but being blocked.
Haughwout was yelling and flailing while attempting to get to the door, and when officers attempted to take Haughwout to the ground, one saw that he was clutching a GoPro camera in his left hand, the report said. He continued to yell and was trying to hit his head into the floor and nearby door, refused to stand up and was yelling “help me,” the report says. Several officers had to carry him to the booking area past the front lobby, the report said.
He was taken to the Middlesex Hospital Shoreline clinic after he vomited in the booking area of the police department, the report said. While there, staff found a cellphone hidden in his underwear, according to the police report.
On July 19, Clinton police say they found Haughwout parked in the Henry Carter Hull Library around 9:15 p.m., according to the arrest warrant obtained by the Register. An officer approached his car to ask what he was doing in the lot after hours and Haughwout immediately put his car in reverse and drove toward the exit, police say.
When officers attempted to speak with Haughwout, police say he repeatedly yelled, “Do you suspect me of a crime? Do you suspect me of an infraction?”
Haughwaut told officers he was in the lot to use the library’s Wi-Fi.
When a second officer arrived at the scene, Haughwout continued to scream and then sped out of the lot onto Killingworth Turnpike. He was stopped by officers in the north bound lane about 300 yards away from the initial stop, police say.
When officers told Haughwout that he was being stopped for an investigative detention, he yelled, “That’s illegal without a crime or infraction you cannot detain a person, I do not consent to this unlawful detention! You know perfectly well who I am, you know perfectly well where I live because I’m always at the police station asking questions,” according to the arrest warrant.
Haughwout refused to put his car in park and rolled up his window and refused to lower it to answer questions.
Sgt. Dunn told officers to pursue charges via an arrest warrant and advised them to let Haughwout go in fear that he would ram a police cruiser, strike an officer or engage in a pursuit and put the public in danger, according to the warrant.
Haughwout sated the following on Youtube:
As some of you may have heard, I was arrested on July 22nd for interfering with an officer, assault and a slew of other charges. On Sunday night, July 19th, I had parked outside my town’s public library to upload a homework assignment for my summer class over the free wi-fi available there. As I was leaving, I noticed an officer of Clinton Police Department pull in. After confirming with the officer that I was not currently suspected of a crime, I proceeded to attempt to leave, but the officer then came up behind me, and reactivated his emergency lights. I inquired as to whether I was suspected of a crime, and received no response, however I had previously been told that I wasn’t. After giving a lengthy time, I proceed on my way and the officer then drove out behind me signalling that he wanted me to stop and I complied. Late Wednesday, July 22nd, I was informed that a warrant had been issued for my arrest and that I should report to the police station. I promptly reported to the police station and brought a GoPro camera with me. I was told in the lobby that I could not bring it inside, and that either police would seize it, or to leave it in the lobby where they won’t accept responsibility if it is stolen. I then informed the officer that I would return it to my vehicle at which point I was thrown to the ground and had my head bashed against the wall and floor until I vomited and passed out. I woke up 45 minutes later in the hospital stripped naked and after being released, I was booked into jail on charges of assault of an officer and interfering with an officer.
I will post the video taken inside the police station by the GoPro, assuming that it has not been deleted or destroyed. This is not the first time that the Clinton Police Department has harassed me and my family and I suspect that this incident is in reaction to my recent video about my multirotor project and also in response to litigation I currently have pending against them on unrelated matters.
Relevant Case Law:
C.A.2 (Conn.) 2007. An individual approached by an officer who has no reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing may ignore the officer and go about his business, and his refusal to cooperate may not form the basis for his detention. U.S.C.A Const.Amend 4.-U.S. Baldwin, 496 F.3d 215 certiorari denied 128 S.Ct. 1324, 552 U.S. 1222, 170 L.Ed.2d 135.
D.Conn. 2010. The Fourth Amendment requires at least a minimal level of objective justification for making a Terry stop; the officer must be able to articulate more than an inchoate and particularized suspicion or hunch of criminal activity. U.S.C.A Const-Amend 4.-U.S. v. Dorlette, 706 F. Supp.2d 290.
Refusal to cooperate with a police officer’s command, without more, does not furnish the minimal level of objective justification needed for a detention or seizure, because a person has a right to ignore the police and go about his business. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 4.-Id.
C.A.2 (Conn.) 2005. An individual’s presence in an area of expected criminal activity, standing alone, is not enough to support a reasonable, particularized suspicion that the person is committing a crime, as would support an investigative stop, but officers are not required to ignore the relevant characteristics of a location in determining whether the circumstances are sufficiently suspicious to warrant further investigation. U.S.C.A Const.Amend 4.-Holeman v. City of New London, 425 F.3d 184.
While Haughwout is innocent until proven guilty, many will take his arrest as proof that he has committed a crime. From Haughwout’s previous video, it seems unlikely he would start a fight with police, and as the headlines of the past few years can attest, police officers are not incapable of lying on a police report. Additionally, the report that the officers did not require medical attention, while Haughwout needed to be taken to the hospital, suggests the police report may not be completely reliable.
The FAA is also investigating whether they can charge the teenager with a crime, stating they are investigating “to determine if there were any violations of criminal statutes.” Spoiler alert – the FAA does not have the right to curtail the 2nd Amendment.
Haughwout’s father stated that his son made the handgun drone with his professor at Central Connecticut State University as part of a project.
Below are his videos from the beach attack last year as well as the police encounter that led to the warrant.
Carlos Miller contributed to this report.