Texas Cop Watcher Convicted of Watching Cops Too Closely
A Texas cop watcher was found guilty Wednesday for not moving away while he was video recording a cop on a public street last winter.
John Bush was charged with failure to comply with a lawful order when a cop ordered him to stand behind a street sign to continue recording.
Austin police officer Jason Mistric claimed he was “interfering,” even though the video shows he was merely standing on a sidewalk, several feet from where officers were making an arrest.
He did not mutter a word while other citizens walked on the same sidewalk as well as on the street behind the officers.
In fact, Mistric walked up to him to make his point, which shows Bush was not even in his personal space.
However, he had the misfortune of being tried before a bootlicking, badge-pandering, cop-fearing jury.
Bush wrote the following message to Photography is Not a Crime:
“During voir dire, it was revealed that most of the jury thought officers has the authority to order someone to close their eyes, to sit on the floor, or to stop holding hands with their lovers. We really have our work cut out for us if this is what constitutes our ‘peers.’
On the brighter side, I told the judge I have a moral objection to paying the state of Texas and I would rather do community service. He told me he will respect my conscientious objection and gave me 27 hours of community service. I know a liberty non profit in Austin, maybe I’ll do 27 hours of jury nullification outreach!!!
Before the arrest, Bush had video recorded Mistric flirting with some college girls on Austin’s famed Sixth Street, which prompted the cop to confront Bush, grab him by his arm and accuse of violating his space.
So he followed Mistric as he continued working the beat that night to ensure he would not confront any more citizens. But naturally, that prompted Mistric to confront him again, which lead to his arrest when he didn’t immediately scamper behind the sign.
Bush’s friend Matthew Medina was also arrested but has yet to go to trial.
So the main question, which may or may not have been answered in a trial, is: what constitutes a “lawful order.”
According to Texas Transportation Code, section 542.501:
A person may not wilfully fail or refuse to comply with a lawful order or direction of: (1) a police officer;
It doesn’t sound very lawful when an officer singles out a pair of citizens on the basis that they are video recording.
Mistric surely argued that he ordered the two men away because he believed they were standing too close. But he was saying nothing to the other citizens wandering up and down the sidewalk at that time.
And it wasn’t as if Bush and Medina were yelling at the officer or at the suspect they was being detained, which might make a stronger case for interfering. They were just standing there video recording.
But this is the same police department that called a press conference last month and announced it would start enforcing a 50-foot rule for citizens recording them in public, which shows their definition of “lawful” is whatever they want it to be.
It took them three weeks to realize there would never be able to enforce such a rule.
According to the Austin Statesmen:
Austin police officials now say they won’t ask members of the public who film officers to stay 50 to 60 feet away from them as indicated in an August news conference after the arrest of a local activist.
Assistant Police Chief Sean Mannix said he believes it would be “arbitrary” to assign a certain distance between officers and people who might be filming them, as well as difficult to enforce.
“I don’t think there’s a practical way of doing that,” Mannix said. “There is no magic number of feet. The officer is going to make a determination of how much of a buffer zone they’re going to need to keep themselves safe, and they’ll communicate that to folks at the time.”
Mannix’s statements represent a change in direction from comments police officials made last month, after Austin activist Antonio Buehler was charged with interference with public duties when police said his actions compromised an arrest they were making downtown.
Clearly, Austin police have issues with citizens who record them, especially the growing activism group called Peaceful Streets that has distributed more than 100 cameras to citizens to record police on the streets.
They consider these activists such a threat that Mistric created a fake identity on Facebook where he attempted to infiltrate their cop watch group by acting like a newcomer in town.
Thus, Mistric became Max Rock, who couldn’t resist the urge to talk about that bald cop named “Mistrick,” intentionally misspelling his real name so as not to give himself away.
But he outed himself as a cop a few weeks later by just coming across completely creepy and weird as you can read in this one Facebook conversation he had with Catherine Bleish, who is Bush’s fiancee.
A few months later, Mistric confronted her in a courtroom and tossed several printouts of their Facebook pages on the bench next to her before storming off, which happened to have come from the account of Max Rock.
Bleish describes the incident in the above video as well as in a blog post.
When I looked closer at the printouts I realized the account he was logged into when he took the screenshots was an account I had conversed with a few weeks back. In fact the account, “Max Rock”, was an account many of us thought was a cop because it was only commenting on recent Austin arrest videos and asking obvious questions, so of course, I had chatted him up trying to get info. The conversation was WEIRD and ended with him saying he has many gigs of “screenshots”.
After Mistric tossed the Facebook pages at them, Bleish followed him into the hallway with her camera recording, which prompted a pair of employees to order her to stop recording.
But you really don’t want to turn your cameras off around Mistric because you just never know when he’ll snap.