Antonio Buehler of Austin was pumping gas just after midnight on New Year’s Day when he saw police conducting a DUI investigation. It was when he saw them pull a female passenger out of the vehicle they were stopped, “manhandling” her, that he decided to start taking pictures. It was this that would ultimately end up getting him charged with several crimes and facing 10 years in prison.
Buehler says he didn’t interfere with the investigation he was photographing, that he was standing far enough away. The police officer disputes that claim, however, saying Buehler was in his face and even spit on him.
Several videos of the incident, from the police dash cam, the convenience store surveillance, and another citizen recording, have all surfaced, and Buehler says they all support his version of events.
None of the videos show Buehler spitting on the cop, though in one you can hear audio of the officer chuckle before he says, “You spit in my face,” a statement that Buehler alleges was made to justify his subsequent arrest, because, “if someone spits in your face, do you chuckle?”
The videos show the officer pinning Buehler against his own truck and show the officer approaching Buehler, not the other way around. In the police report, the officer claims that Buehler was in his face and that’s why he had to use force to push him away. The officer also claims he wiped his face after being spat on, something that none of the cameras caught.
Buehler has been charged with resisting arrest and felony harassment on a public servant. He faces more than 10 years in prison if convicted on both charges.
He filed an internal affairs complaint after his arrest, but the department did not substantiate any of his complaints against the officers. Adhering to their union contract, the police did not hand over any details of their investigation, only being required to when complaints are substantiated.
He will have his case heard by the Austin Citizen Review Panel, a board that cannot dole out discipline but can make recommendations to the department.
As for his criminal charges, they are still pending.
It’s not completely unheard of for police reports to differ from the accounts of the accused. How you remember something happening might not be at all what’s found in the police report. In situations like this, when you are charged with a crime, having a defense attorney on your side can help you understand your rights in the matter and what options you have. Call us today for a free consultation.
Update: more at Reason.com.