A man was crossing a street with his camera on Christmas, apparently to record some police activity, when he was arrested for refusing to provide identification immediately upon demand.
The Topeka cops approached him as soon as he stepped onto the sidewalk, demanding his identification.
The man, Addison Mikkelson, asked if he needed to present his identification, considering he didn’t appear to have been committing a crime.
But the cops accused him of crossing the street against the crosswalk, which may or may not be true because the cop was referring to the signal after he had already crossed.
“It looks to me like that says ‘no crossing,'” one of the cops said, more than ten seconds after he had crossed, meaning the signal could have easily changed during that time.
Nevertheless, the man said he would provide his identification, but wanted to put his camera down first.
However, the pair of cops began crowding him in typical bully fashion until they arrested him.
“I don’t sit here and wait for you to give me ID when it’s convenient for you,” cop said.
I counted less than 15 seconds from the first time the man said he would provide his identification until they arrested him.
It was clear he was trying to cooperate. But it was also clear they were intent on arresting him from the onset, not because he crossed a barren street against a crosswalk, but because he wanted to document their activities.
The cops are named Schulz and C. Wilson. Call Chief Ronald Miller at 785-368-9551 and Deputy Chief Tony Kirk at 785-368-9427.
Call Mayor Larry Wolgast at 785-368-3895.
And to call the Topeka Chamber of Commerce, who might not take too kindly to their city officers unlawfully arresting teenagers participating in Constitutionally protected activities: 785-234-2644.
UPDATE: Jeff Gray and I spoke at length tonight with Mikkelson, who is a 17-year-old high school graduate planning on studying criminal justice in college, which is why he is interested in video recording cops.
He wants to be a private investigator, not a cop. Especially after his arrest.
However, he is not a cop hater. On Christmas Eve, he had a positive experience with an officer and even wrote a message to Topeka Police Chief Ronald Miller to commend the officer as well as an email to the officer himself, both which are posted below:
Dear Officer McCoy,
I would like to take the time to personally thank you for your professionalism the other day at the mall. You were very kind,calm, and very educational and I respect that, you’re the kind of police officer we should have in our community.
Thank you again for doing what you do, and keep up the good work! I’ll be looking forward to be seeing you again in the future.
P.S Merry Christmas to you and your family, be safe.
And to the chief, he wrote the following, from a contact form on the police department’s website:
I’m an activist in the community, a person who likes to take documentary of everything I find interesting. I feel the need to make this compliment to one of the Topeka police officers. It was on the 24th of December 2013 when I was in the West ridge mall, and I had come in contact with Officer McCoy and he was very educational, professional and very respectful to me. Shane McCoy is a very professional Officer who takes his duties of being a police officer very seriously..
Ot around 7:30 p.m. on Christmas Day, he drove by a bunch of cops surrounding a house, so he pulled over, parked his car and walked up to the house with his camera, standing on
the sidewalk as cops walked past him without saying a word.
“They were looking for somebody but I don’t think he was there,” Mikkelson said.
At one point, he overheard them saying they were all going to meet up at the convenience store down the block, so he walked down there to head them off. In the video, you can see police lights behind him.
Given that it was a holiday, there was hardly any traffic, so he crossed the street when he saw no cars coming and stepped out on the sidewalk on the other side, which is when he saw the two cops come storming at him demanding identification.
That was when he turned the camera on, capturing the two bully cops, Sergeant Kevin Schultz and C. Wilson, who were clearly way too immature to wear the badge, especially the way they mocked him on the drive to juvenile hall.
And they were clearly not representative of the rest of the Topeka Police Department from what Mikkelson told us.And they were very hypocritical.
For them being so meticulous about the pedestrian signal, they didn’t even bother using their turn signals as they drove him handcuffed in the back of the patrol card, laughing at him the way bullies do when they pick on someone younger and more powerless than them.
But Mikkelson, who could easily be their boss one day, simply for the fact that he plans to obtain the education they seemed to have missed, has a very strong message for them.
“The biggest thing about being young is the cops think I’m going to be afraid of them,” he said. “I want them to know that I’m not going to be afraid.”
So I guess we should expect a younger HONORYOUROATH to emerge from Kansas in 2014.
UPDATE II: Mikkelson sent me a video from before his arrest when he walked into the Topeka Police Department with his camera requesting footage from a police officers’s helmet cam regarding an incident from a shopping mall where he was banned by a security guard, the same incident where he commended McCoy in the above messages.
The cop at the desk told him he would need a court order to obtain footage from the helmet cam, which may or may not be true as I have not researched Kansas public records laws, but I’m betting it’s not true. And I’m sure one of you guys will quickly come up with the actual law on this.
They also told him he was not allowed to video record in the station after he had told them he was working on a “documentary.” I advised him to just tell them he was working on a journalistic report because a documentary can be construed to mean commercial videography, which would require a license in a public building.
At 17, Mikkelson handles himself extremely professional and assertive and I hope it’s not too late to see if he is interested in changing career plans from criminal justice to journalism because we need more people like him in the industry.
Or as I’ve already told him in Facebook messages, to figure out a way to combine the two.