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ACLU Files Amicus Brief on Right to Videotape Police – Cites My Case in Briefing

Today the Hawaii ACLU filed amicus brief on the right to videotape police and in the brief they mentioned the case of me being falsely arrested for filming police here on the Big Island:

Today, the ACLU of Hawaii submitted an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the case of Kahle v. Villaflor in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.

In April 2010, Mitch Kahle was ejected from the Hawaii Senate Chambers after objecting to an unconstitutional prayer at the opening of Senate business.  Kevin Hughes was filming the objection, and when Kahle was ejected from the Senate Chambers, Hughes followed him outside.

Hughes continued to film the incident, and was assaulted by State officials.  As seen in Hughes’ video of the incident, Ben Villafor (the Sergeant at Arms) approached Hughes and punched Hughes’ video camera.  He then said something like, “Get that camera,” after which State officials surrounded and attacked Hughes (damaging his camera, sending him to the hospital, and trampling his First Amendment rights).

This is, unfortunately, part of a disturbing trend in Hawaii and nationwide, whereby law enforcement officers assault those who are exercising their First Amendment rights to videotape law enforcement officers.  You can read more about these incidents in our Amicus Brief, and you can learn more about your right to videotape law enforcement in our First Amendment Toolkit. If you have experienced threats or intimidation as a result of documenting law enforcement encounters in Hawaii, please contact us.

I snipped the following from the brief:

On August 6, 2011, blogger Damon Tucker (“Tucker”) had a similar encounter with Hawaii County Police Department officers.  Tucker claims that he was filming the officers’ arrest of other individuals, when an officer slammed him to the ground and confiscated his camera/phone. Tucker was arrested for obstructing government operations, though charges were dropped shortly thereafter.

You can view the complete brief here: Amicus Brief on the Rights to Film Police Officers on Duty

I’ll be ramping things up in the next few days… more to come.

Photography Is Not a Crime – Posting Pictures of Kids in Public Places on Your Website is Legal

Well the 2011 Pahoa Parade is now long over.  I posted 145 pictures of the parade on my blog and now it appears that I have upset a parent because in one of those pictures their child is in it.

My son getting dragged by a hot dog at the 2011 Pahoa Parade

I received the following email and when I tried to reply to the sender the email bounced so I guess this person was using a fake account or something to bother me.

Please remove the picture of my child from your website from todays Pahoa Parade

I really had no clue which picture they were talking about so I responded like this although now I realize they never got this:

“Your crazy… A) which picture are you talking about… B) when you show me the picture… I may feature it now that you attempting to suppress my freedom of the press and taking pictures in a public place!

I’ve been thinking about this on and off all day and I just can’t believe how ridiculous some folks maybe at times.  I wonder if this parent also requested that the Hawaii Tribune remove any pictures that may have posted of their child if the Tribune captured them in their pictures of the parade.

I know that Hawaii24/7 has a whole 5 minute video featuring nothing but folks in the parade.  Will this parent insist that Hawaii24/7 edits out the picture of their child in it if they happen to see this video?

I’ve had an ongoing discussion with some folks on my facebook page and I can’t believe some of the comments I have received. However, one of the responses I respect the most comes from a pre-school teahcer:

…I think many schools have FB (Facebook) pages these days as an alternative to costly web sites. It’s much easier to portray the fun things that go on, the beauty of an environment, and the joy of learning form a smile on a child’s face…from a picture, than a verbal description. A picture used to simply “speak a thousand words”. But now, a picture has become a tool for child endangerment. Wow! What is this world coming to???

Many folks think it’s straight up illegal at times!  Others say you could be harming a child by placing pictures of them on the internet.

Do folks realize that most schools now a days are putting their childrens pictures on the internet?  My son’s school is a private school and considered one of the best schools in the State… Kamehameha Schools and even all of their teachers from Kindergarten on up have very public blogs where they post pictures of the kids doing school functions.

When parents are afraid of the internet or the tools available for kids to use on the internet… It’s kind of scary to me.  I myself would rather have my kid surfing the internet and looking at pictures of his friends and classmates…. then walking down to the local store by himself!

Parenting and education is crucial in the development of children.  My son has a very public website and he is only 7 years old.  Is some “Bully Parent” going to tell my son that he can’t post pictures of his friends on his site?

And just so folks know… I probably would have removed that particular picture… had the email not come anonymously nor with the “DEMAND” that came with it.  Still to this day… I don’t know what picture it is… however I do know what organization they belong to.

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Obstruction of Government Operation Charges Dismissed Against Me – Pictures Released From the Night I Got Arrested at Pahoa Village Cafe

The State of Hawaii, through the undersigned deputy prosecuting attorney, and Damon Tucker, through his counsel Gerard Lee Loy, Esq., hereby stipulate to entry of a nolle prosequi without prejudice in this case in the interests of justice.  Any bail or release conditions should properly be cancelled and bail returned to the poster. 

I always knew I would be vindicated when a government official, interested in honesty and integrity in the prosecution process, would review the evidence contained in my video camera and in my iPhone’s motherboard, and would know that certain police fabricated the claim of my misconduct.

I am hopeful that the prosecutor’s review of the police officers’ conduct in fabricating
claims of my misconduct will lead to better training in the police department about honesty and integrity in preparing police reports, and in selecting honest people to become police.

False reporting is a crime. And so is beating up a 150 pound citizen by a 260 plus pound police officer.

I’d like to apologize to my wife for having to go through some of the stress that I have dealt with in dealing with.

I’d also like to apologize to my son for not being able to show up at many school and extra-curricular functions while I’ve had this legal gorilla on my back.

I’d like to thank those folks that have supported me from the get go… you know who you are.

While my body is healing and the wounds are fading… the memories of that fateful night have haunted me nightly since it happened and I hope now I can move past some of the nightmares and visions I’ve been having of getting slammed onto the ground by a huge police officer for no reason at all.

To the three folks that have investigated my name “Damon Shane Tucker” online and anonymously called the prosecutors office reporting that I was the Sex Offender currently incarcerated in ArizonaI am not that person and I would appreciate it if those rumors stopped immediately. That person is incarcerated until 2062.

The "Damon Shane Tucker" that is incarcerated in Arizona

I value my name and I value my employment with the Federal Government and I value my service to our community. I will continue to do my best to serve our community and my country in the capacity that I have been doing.

Press Conference Tomorrow in Regards to My Obstruction of Government Operations Arrest

*UPDATE 11/8 12:28* The PRESS CONFERENCE HAS BEEN POSTPONED
My attorney Gerard Lee Loy and I will be holding a press conference tomorrow, at 2:00 pm in front of the Hawaii County Courthouse regarding my “Obstruction of Government Operations” charge that I was assaulted, arrested and thrown in jail for.

My iPhone as it was returned to me from the evidence room

I will be unavailable for comments after that as I’m leaving for Oahu to attend the APEC Summit until Sunday.

Broken Nikon L110 Camera

Maui Police Rough Up MauiTime Publisher Over Dog The Bounty Hunter Incident

Tommy Russo, the publisher of the MauiTime, has stated that he was assaulted by the Maui Police Department while he was trying to film Dog the Bounty Hunter in action on a public street.

Dog the Bounty Hunter

The MauiTimes Challenges the Dog to Release Footage of the incident

On the evening of April 12, I was assaulted by a member of reality star Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman‘s security team. Soon after, I was assaulted again, and had my First Amendment rights violated, by a member of the Maui Police Department

You can see video of the incident here:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBcO2CXldyA]

Russo has also now challenged “Dog the Bounty Hunter” to release his footage of the incident:

I challenge Dog and his crew to release their video footage of the events.

Bottom line: because I attempted the completely legal act of recording on public property I was shoved, hit, had my property taken and was prevented from accessing emergency services. Once “help” arrived, I was further assaulted and had my Constitutional rights violated.

You can view the full article here: MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo Assaulted by MPD.

I still don’t understand why police don’t think we can photograph them in public?