Press Release from the Office of State Senator Craig Estes, District 30

For Immediate Release
April 17, 2013
Contact: Liz White

Texas veteran releases video documenting his illegal arrest
Freedom to Film Act by Estes confirms the legality of filming the police

Austin — Army Master Sergeant. C.J. Grisham, a decorated war veteran, was recently arrested in Temple, Texas while on a hike with his 15-year old son trying to help him earn a Boy Scout merit badge. Yesterday, Grisham released a video of the incident, which shows police mistreating Grisham and accusing him of "rudely displaying" a weapon. Sgt. Grisham was eventually charged with resisting arrest.

The video was taken by Grisham's son and clearly shows that Grisham did not resist arrest. Police later reduced the charges to "interfering with a peace officer while performing a duty", which is a Class B misdemeanor.

"Stories like these are why I have filed SB 897, which makes it clear that Texans have a right to film police in the performance of their duties," Estes said. "Fortunately in this case, Sgt. Grisham was able to document the incident and the proof is on his side."

As the use of smartphones has proliferated in recent years, there has been a disturbing trend of Texas citizens being harassed by law enforcement for filming, photographing, and recording law enforcement officers, even though doing so is perfectly legal.

SB 897 seeks to clarify that a citizen is not acting unlawfully by filming police officers during the course of their normal duties. Under the bill, if a citizen is charged with a crime for filming the police, such as interference with public duties, failure to obey the police, or assaulting an officer, and is subsequently acquitted, the citizen may recover the costs of defending the frivolous charges.

"My hope is that this bill will cause Texas law enforcement to think twice before arresting and charging a person who is doing nothing more than filming the police," Estes said. "The police are public servants, so they should not be doing anything that they would not want caught on film."

Watch the video here:

Estes serves nearly 820,000 constituents across Senate District 30 which includes all of Archer, Clay, Cooke, Erath, Grayson, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wichita, Wise, and Young counties and parts of Collin and Denton counties.