- Margaret Moore
- Travis County District Attorney
Indict Austin, TX Officer O'Neill and Two Fellow LEO's On Official Oppression Charges
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On Tuesday the 13th of December 2016 at approximately 1:15pm Kristopher Cody King was the victim of a motorcycle profiling stop in Austin, Texas. Cody, who is a member of a motorcycle club in Texas, was stopped under the pretext of failing to properly signal while riding his motorcycle. But the real intent was to illegally detain Cody so they could violate his privacy without justification by taking pictures of tattoos all over his body.
The stop was initiated by three APD officers, two of which's identity is only known to the Internal Affairs Division of the Austin Police Department, the other officer being Dane O'Neil. Officer O'Neill and the other officers intentionally violated King's First and Fourth Amendment rights:
They claimed to stop King because he failed to signal a turn. The officers ran Mr. King for warrants - he was clear. The officers informed Mr. King that he would not receive a ticket for failing to signal. Mr. King then requested to leave.
The three officers told Mr. King that he was not free to leave. They told him that they were going to photograph his body. They told Mr. King that he could submit to their photograph on the side of the road, or they would arrest him and photograph him at the jail. This is in direct violation of APD standard operating procedures.
Official APD procedures make it clear that Cody’s stop was impermissible and reaffirms Supreme Court precedent. The APD Policy Manual reads:
318.6.2 FIELD PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN WITHOUT CONSENT
Field photographs may be taken without consent only if taken during a detention that is based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and the photograph serves a legitimate law enforcement purpose related to the detention.
(a) The officer must be able to articulate facts that reasonably indicate that the subject was involved in, or was about to become involved in, criminal conduct.
(b) Mere knowledge or suspicion of gang membership or affiliation is not a sufficient justification for taking a photograph without consent.
(c) If, prior to taking a photograph, the officer’s reasonable suspicion of criminal activity has been dispelled, the detention must cease and the photograph should not be taken.
Mr. King initially refused to submit to the photography. When he was told that the officers intended to arrest him so that they could take pictures of his body, he submitted to them.
Officer Dane O'Neill proceeded and ordered King to take off his helmet. King was ordered to unzip his vest. Officer O'Neill - without asking permission - and without permission - put his hands on King. Officer O'Neill lifted up King's shirt sleeve to expose skin that was not already exposed. Officer O'Neill lifted up King's shirt in the back to expose his naked back for photography.
The officers forced King to submit to showing his naked skin in public, in broad daylight, on the side of the road - under the threat of an unlawful arrest.
Officer O'Neill and the other two officers violated Mr. King's right to be free from an unreasonably prolonged detention when they continued to hold Mr. King on the side of the road after they completed the purpose of the traffic stop.
Officer O'Neill and the other two officers violated Mr. King's First Amendment right to associate when they held him solely because they believed he was a member of a motorcycle club.
Officer O'Neill and the other two officers violated Mr. King's Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search when they forced him to expose his naked skin - that King chose to cover with clothing - in public.
Officer O'Neill violated Mr. King's Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search when Officer O'Neill placed his hands on Mr. King and lifted up his clothing without Mr. King's permission.
These Officers Committed the Offense of Official Oppression:
These Austin Police officers acted intentionally. Their conduct violated clearly established, fundamental, Constitutionally protected rights.
Texas Penal Code Section 39.03 provides that:
A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he:
(1) intentionally subjects another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment, or lien that he knows is unlawful;
(2) intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing his conduct is unlawful; or
(3) intentionally subjects another to sexual harassment.
These three Austin Police Department officers violated both the first and second subsections of the official oppression statute by intentionally subjecting King to an unlawful seizure, and intentionally denying King his privilege to go about his business as they held him on the side of the road.
These officers have a duty to know and comply with the law. The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land. These officers knew what they were doing was wrong.
Please keep the streets of Austin, and Travis County, safe for motorcyclists. Ensure all those who ride a motorcycle that they are welcome in your county. Ensure all motorcycle club members you will not tolerate the police violating people's Constitutional rights just because they ride a motorcycle or belong to a motorcycle club.
DA Margaret Moore, indict Officer O'Neill and his two colleagues. You can contact Detective R. Parker in the Special Investigative Unit of APD for their names and badge numbers: email@example.com.
- Margaret Moore
- Travis County District Attorney
Indict Austin, TX officer O'Neill and two fellow LEO's on official oppression charges
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