Cops arrest Arkansas legislator for taking a video

A video, it turns out, which he was legally entitled to record thanks to legislation passed with the legislator’s help.

We’ve been a longtime supporter of the right of citizens to videotape police officers engaged in confrontations with their fellow citizens.

After all, it’s the citizens themselves who are paying police salaries, and police are engaged in a public function.

But that didn’t stop cops in Little Rock from arresting the 79-year-old black man.

Here’s a lengthy Little Rock police car cam video of the arrest, posted by Ean Bordeaux:

Ark State Rep. John Walker arrested for filming LR police

Program notes [excerpted]:

Arkansas State Representative John Walker was arrested on Monday morning, Sept. 26, 016.

Little Rock police were in the process of arresting a stopped driver for theft of property around 11:30 a.m. at 9th and Commerce streets.

Walker, 79, walked into the scene of the traffic stop and began filming the incident. The arrested driver asked what Walker was doing, to which Walker responded, “I’m making sure they don’t kill you.”

After escorting the driver to the patrol car in handcuffs, police found that the passenger of the stopped call also had an outstanding arrest warrant.

As the police were arresting the passenger, Walker and another individual approached the scene in a “antagonistic and provocative manner.” Officers repeatedly told both individuals to stop and stay away from the scene.

Walker told the police he was not going to leave and instructed the police to arrest him. Police obliged and charged him with interfering with government operations. The other individual was also arrested.

At the station, Walker informed the jailers that he only wanted to file a complaint “against the white officers.”

And the story, from the Intercept:

An Arkansas State representative who helped pass a state law protecting people who film police was arrested Monday while filming Little Rock police as they put a black man in handcuffs after a traffic stop.

The charges against Rep. John Walker have been dropped, but his colleague, fellow civil rights lawyer Omavi Shukur, faces charges for obstruction of government relations.

Officer Jeff Thompson wrote in his police report: “I ordered Walker several times to leave or be arrested. Walker replied ‘arrest me’ at which point I did.”

Police on Wednesday released dashcam video of the incident. “I’m just making sure they don’t kill you,” Walker told the man who had been pulled over, according to the police report.

More from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

In one of the videos, Walker can be heard off-camera talking to officer Jason Roberts, a downtown patrolman who was one of four officers who conducted the traffic stop. Shortly after Walker and Kushukuru arrive and start recording, Roberts asks Walker what he’s doing. Walker identifies himself as a state representative and says Little Rock is his district.

“I’m just here as an observer,” Walker says.

Roberts then tells Walker that he has a right to observe. He explains that four officers were on scene because he and officer Thomas Thompson, both veteran patrolmen, were training two rookie officers.

In the video, Walker can be heard saying that he intends to film every instance in which multiple police officers arrest a black man. He then references the Little Rock police killings of two black men, Eugene Ellison, 67, and Deon Williams, 26. Officers shot Ellison to death inside his apartment in 2010. Williams was carrying a handgun when he fled a traffic stop, and officers fatally shot him in 2013.

“There have been too many killings,” Walker says in the video. “The killings on 12th Street. The killings on Asher Avenue.”

Roberts, who is white, then accuses Walker of trying to provoke the police. He says in the video that officers did not know the race of the men they pulled over when they initiated the stop. In a police report, Walker’s behavior is described as “antagonistic and provocative.

If there was ever evidence for the need of Walker’s legislation, this is it.

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