Army veteran and West Point graduate Antonio Buehler became a hero when he stepped forward peacefully to keep America the land of the free.
When Buehler saw Austin police officers assaulting a woman on New Year’s Day 2012, he started videotaping the incident without interfering with the arrest.
The woman that attracted Buehler’s attention was Norma Pizana, a passenger in a car stopped for a routine DWI check.
As police officer Robert Snider pulled the female passenger out of the vehicle and threw her to the ground, Buehler loudly asked the police why they were assaulting her.
After twisting the passenger’s arms behind her back, Snider arrested her and another police officer, Patrick Oborski, approached Buehler, pushed him forcefully several times, and arrested him.
Buehler, an Army veteran, was charged with spitting on the officer, a crime that could have landed him ten years in prison, but a grand jury refused to indict him after more video evidence emerged showing the allegation was unfounded.
Still, Buehler, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point; Stanford University; Harvard University, had to face trial in municipal court where a jury found him not guilty of failing to comply with the order of an officer on New Year’s Day 2012.
This week’s verdict came after a five-day trial followed by more than five hours of jury deliberations.
“I saw two Austin cops assaulting a woman who had not committed a crime. When I tried to take pictures and question the cops, I was assaulted and charged with a felony crime of spitting in a cop’s face,” said Buehler. “Fortunately, numerous witnesses came forward, including one who took video of the incident. Every witness said the cop lied and the video proves it.”
Buehler is not just playing defense. He filed a federal lawsuit against police and the government officials who violated his civil rights to cover up the crimes they perpetrated against innocent Americans.
On June 2, 2014 the National Press Photographers Association filed an Amicus Brief supporting Buehler’s civil lawsuit.
Federal Judge Mark Lane denied motions by the City of Austin to dismiss the case, ruling on July 24, 2014, that private citizens have the right to record officers in public places as they perform their official duties.
Lane also said the officers were not personally immune from allegations that they had arrested and searched him without probable cause.
While fueling up at a 7-11, Buehler and his passenger observed officers using excessive force, pulling one woman out of a vehicle and throwing her to the ground.
The driver of the car, Ashley Nicole Hill, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, and her passenger, Norma Pizana, was arrested .
Officers Pat Oborski and Robert Snider faced no discipline after an internal affairs investigation, Assistant Police Chief Sean Mannix said.
Buehler and others formed the Peaceful Streets Project to get more people involved with activism related to police accountability and explain to residents how to film or photograph police.
Raised in a single-parent household in an Eastern Pennsylvania coal mining town, Buehler was the first in his family to graduate from high school. As a U.S. Army officer, he led two 27-soldier Airborne Ranger platoons in Kosovo and Germany.
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