A 34-year-old Iraqi War veteran is facing ten years behind bars after photographing police officers in Austin, Texas that he says were mistreating a woman during a routine arrest on New Year’s Eve.
Antonio Buehler was pumping gas on December 31, 2011 when he witnessed officers with the Austin Police Department attempt to detain a woman under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol at a fueling station. By the end of the evening, though, Buehler also found himself being apprehended by authorities.
“I saw a woman getting assaulted by the police. It looked like police abuse, and I decided to speak up and take pictures. I think that is every person’s right,” Buehler told Austin’s KVUE News earlier this year.
The authorities, however, see things differently. According to the officers, Buehler was interfering with their investigation. Buehler says he was simply exercising his First Amendment rights from afar, but the police department begs to differ.
Buehler was “in my face,” Officer Pat Oborski writes in the official police report. The officer also claims that Buehler spit at him, an allegation that Buehler rejects.
“The officer kind of put his hand on his shoulder and tried to back him up and at that time was when Buehler spit in the face of Officer Oborski,” Corp. Anthony Hipolito, an APD spokesman, told KVUE News earlier this year. “At that time he was placed under arrest for harassment of a public servant which is a third degree felony.”
When all was said and done on January 1, Buehler was released from a holding cell after 16 hours behind bars. In the six months since the incident, the defendant has been trying to get to the bottom of things. Unfortunately for him, however, it’s been a fight that Austin officials have seemingly been all too unwilling to help with — a late January complained filed with the Austin internal affairs department was essentially ignored, and a letter he received last week informs him that he is forbidden to “view, possess or receive copies of the Internal Affairs Division’s investigation,”forcing him to face his felony charge hearing without little for him or his attorney to work with.