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Galveston police ask community to support officer during trial over arrest of activist

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The Galveston Municipal Police Association is asking for support in a plea posted to social media.

In the posting Jan. 13, the association outlined events that landed one of their own, Sergeant Archie Chapman, in hot water.

The Galveston city police sergeant has been indicted by a grand jury on a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge arising from the search of a self-described video activist’s vehicle, according to prosecutors.

Officer Chapman arrested Photography is Not a Crime (PINAC) activist Phillip Turner, who Chapman observed videotaping officers’ personal vehicles and license plates as well as the police headquarter’s exterior.

According to the post on Facebook, “In light of the many recent deadly attacks on law enforcement and concerned for the safety of his fellow officers,” Sergeant Chapman detained and attempted to identify the individual to determine whether or not he posed a threat. The subject refused to identify himself and was subsequently arrested. Only after retrieving the subject’s driver’s license from his vehicle was Chapman able to identify the subject.

In a story published by The Washington Post, Chapman’s attorney, Greg Cagle, said his client was looking in Turner’s car for the man’s driver’s license to book him into jail after detaining him. Cagle said Chapman was worried about the safety of police officers, sheriff’s deputies and jail staff who worked in the nearby building.

In what the Association says is an “utterly shameful and alarming turn of events,” the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office, led by District Attorney Jack Roady, dropped all charges against activist Turner and instead chose to pursue charges against Chapman for Criminal Trespass arising from the alleged ‘search’ of the subject’s vehicle.

According to Turner, he alleges that he was arrested in violation of his First Amendment right to videotape a police station and the activity at the station, and his right to refuse to identify himself when officers from the station asked him to do so.

The Post reports in its story The Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit have not addressed whether or not there is a First Amendment right to videotape police activities.

The Association’s post says Chapman was subsequently indicted by a grand jury and faces up to 180 days in jail, a $2 thousand fine and loss of his peace officer’s license (as well as an end to his 14 year law enforcement career) if convicted.

In a quote to the Houston Chronicle, Chapman’s attorney says his client was doing what he was sworn to do … serve and protect.

“Sgt. Chapman was trying to do his job as a police officer,” Cagle said. “He had no motive other than to protect the public and the officers.”

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Police union supporting this frequently disciplined officer regardless of the overwhelming evidence against him? Wow….what a surprise….zzzz.

  2. Police union supporting this heavily disciplined officer despite the overwhelming evidence against him? Wow…what a surprise. /s

  3. What he was sworn to do was enforce the LAW and the Constitution. If any officer can’t do that, he needs to get a different job with his name on his shirt.

  4. SGT Chapman was arrested for retrieving Turner’s car keys from a jailer long after Turner’s arrest. Chapman, then,according to the charges, drove around the Galveston area with key remote extended out the window looking for Turner’s car. When Chapman did locate Turner’s car he entered per the chargers. Video of Chapman driving around looking for, finding, and entering Turner’s car does exist.

    Can we please stop covering for those cops that make us all look bad.

    • If those of you who care about how you are perceived by the public would SPEAK OUT when injustice is happening right in front of you, then maybe public perception would change. Look at how many officers allowed this to happen. They ALL knew the law and knew that this was illegal so WHY didn’t anyone do or say anything? This makes the supposed 2% of bad cops out there look more like 20%.

  5. The pigs in Galveston realize that Archie, the torturer, is going to jail. That activates them because, dog forbid they be under actual scrutiny. these Gestapo need to learn the law. when one of their own are made to sit in solitary (they won’t put a pig in general population because he will rightly be killed) they will not, even then, learn a lesson. Archie tortured a person by nearly drowning him. Shame this pig should rot in a cell for a while…see what it feels like pig!

  6. Shame on that prosecutor. He’s either a coward or in cahoots with the extreme left. This is the reason departments are having a hard time staffing their departments and it’s putting the community at risk. Just like this prosecutor has done.

    • It wasn’t the prosecutor that made Archie break the law. He decided to do that all on his own. I cannot believe anyone would support a lawless thug like Archie Chapman.

  7. Sorry. As a former officer I agree that the citizens rights were violated. Officer safety does not trump the constitution. Stop the contempt of cop attitude and start remembering law class 101. Lets say it together. Reasonable Articulable Suspicion.

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