Back in June, Sanders was conducting a First Amendment audit of the Addison Police Department in Texas. Standing across the street from the police station with his cell phone in hand recording video, Sanders was approached by officer T. Bagley, who asked “Can I help you?”
Instead of helping, officer Bagley’s became clear as he immediately ordered Sanders to, “Move on then. You don’t need to be over here videoing the police department for any reason unless you have a reason to be videoing.”
Officer Bagley apparently did not know that there is not a list of approved reasons to exercise the First Amendment right to record in public, nor is any reason necessary. Bagley demanded Sanders identification, and when Sanders pressed for what law he was breaking, Bagley invented this gem – “What you’re doing is violating a policy that you should not be doing this.”
Bagley then grabbed for Sanders identification, and told him, “You’re not using your phone because I don’t know if you’re calling somebody to come over here to do something to me. For officer safety, I’m going to ask you one more time.”
Sanders’s video loses the action after this, as according to Sanders, “Bagley grabbed my hand and twisted it behind my back while pinning my leg with his and took me to the ground. I was promptly handcuffed, detained and disarmed.”
Sanders had also been carrying a pre-1899 black powder pistol, legal to open carry in the state of Texas, but the cop wasn’t worried about that. He was only concerned about the camera.
Sanders was let go without being arrested or charged with a crime, as Texas law does not require Texans to identify themselves unless they are under arrest.
Sanders’ suit against officers T. Bagley, Mike Vincent, B. Jones – the other officers who arrived on the scene – and the Town of Addison is below, and contends that they violated Sanders’ First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Sanders seeks punitive damages against the officers for their intentional, willful and wanton acts completely ignoring “clearly established statutory and constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”
A reasonable officer – such as the police officer that did not disturb Sanders’ earlier recording of a Plano police station – would have just walked away.