Updated 07/03/2012 08:20 AM
Citizen Review Panel to investigate Buehler case
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On January 1, Antonio Buehler's life changed.
Early New Year's Day, Buehler said he saw a male police officer "manhandling" a woman and began taking pictures. Austin police say he interfered with their work during a routine traffic stop and claimed he spit on an officer. Now, Buehler is facing charges of harassment of a public servant and resisting arrest.
"This has opened the eyes to a lot of people who previously thought that police abuse wasn't a problem," Buehler said. "If I wasn't a West Point, Stanford graduate, war veteran who had never been arrested, never had a drug offense, never done anything wrong or was black or Hispanic on that night, my life would have been destroyed."
Monday, Buehler took his case to the Citizen Review Panel. The group of volunteers is tasked with reviewing APD's internal investigation. Buehler said he wants to see the officers fired and charged. He also said he wants to see a new, independent investigation conducted.
Austin Police Association President Wayne Vincent wouldn't comment on the specifics of the case, but did say there is nothing wrong with taking pictures of police.
"No police officer has a problem with being filmed. We film ourselves all the time. The real question is when does it start becoming an interference? If you become part of what an officer is filming, then you are not just standing back and filming," Vincent said.
The Citizen Review Panel will ultimately make a recommendation to the Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. In the meantime, however, Buehler is preparing for his own legal battle.
"We know that we have been trying to get the Grand Jury to convene for a while, because it is a felony, it has to go to grand jury for an indictment. We look forward to it," Buehler said.
Buehler is expected to attend Wednesday's ''Occupy Your Capitol'' event at the State Capitol to discuss his ''Peaceful Streets Project." His project includes handing out video cameras to trained activists for the purposes of recording police activity. Buehler says the project has already raised more than $10,000 for the cameras.