Tuesday May 21, 2013
Who's Policing the Police?Toni Samanie Salem-News.com
The video camera can be the best friend of the citizen dealing with cops who practice illegal behavior.
(OKLAHOMA CITY) - It was New Year’s Day around 2:00 a.m. when Antonio Buehler, the designated driver, and his friend had stopped for gas on their way home. It was well-lit and on the good side of town; Lamar Street, in Austin, Texas.
They were going about their business when they noticed a young lady, lightly dressed and in high heels being made to walk a line during a field sobriety test. They thought it was odd, as it was freezing cold that night and most people, heels or not, would probably not be able to pass the test.
But, at that point, the two buddies just shook their heads and went about their business. Next, they heard the passenger tell her friend not to submit to the breathalyzer, this seemed to annoy the officer and he told the passenger not to say that again. She feared the unreliability of the breathalyzer and tried to warn her friend again that she could refuse the test.
Then she said it a third time. Even though the passenger was within her rights, apparently this angered the officer. With a violent jerk, Robert Snider, a burly officer wrenched her from her car and threw her on the ground. Then he and another officer by the name of Patrick Oborksi, pulled her arms behind her back into an unnatural angle and proceeded to lift her up by them.
The pain was excruciating and she screamed out loud, obviously in great pain. Notably, it was maneuvers such as these at the hands of North Vietnamese interrogators that left former Presidential Candidate and Vietnam POW, John McCain’s shoulders crippled and deformed. The witnesses, especially Antonio Buehler, a wartime vet, thought these tactics were a form of torture and excessive force.
When you first make Antonio Buehler’s acquaintance you will immediately realize this man is well comported. He’s very well spoken, collected and insightful.
Antonio isn’t just a common variety, hapless army recruit; he was reared by a single parent from a coal mining town in Eastern Pennsylvania. He was the first in his family to graduate high school and went on to West Point. After graduation he found himself in Iraq strategizing critical supply needs. He worked with contractors from around the globe and also, specifically with the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish Iraqis. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service. Next, Antonio went on to obtain his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, which in turn found him in New York working as a successful investment banker.
Presently, as the founder and CEO of Buehler Education, Antonio, helps children and their parents prepare for a successful educational experience including helping children obtain placement in exceptional colleges and universities. While reading his bio, one thing that really jumps out is the fact that this young man is and has been very involved in philanthropy, especially regarding disadvantaged children.
Maybe it was from a sense of protection and illumination, or perhaps it was just pure reflex mode, but whatever his locus of thought, he started taking pictures of the incident. This, apparently, annoyed the officer and he asked Buehler why he was taking pictures. Buehler responded that he was allowed to, “public official, public place”. Then the officer accused Buehler of interfering with the investigation. Buehler disagreed. At this point the officer began pushing Buehler in the chest, and backed him up against his truck in an effort to physically intimidate Buehler. In a show of real self- restraint, Buehler put his arms up in the air as a way to demonstrate to the officer he wasn’t resisting.
What Antonio or the officers didn’t realize was that someone from across the street was filming the incident. Originally, this invisible Good Samaritan was watching what was happening to the female but when he saw Oborski approach Antonio, he grabbed his camera. What he didn’t realize at the time was he was about to film a significant piece of defensive evidence. When Antonio was being taken away to the BAT (Breath Alcohol Test) bus for a breathalyzer the person from across the street yelled out to the cops and asked them why they had arrested three people who seemed to have done nothing wrong (the passenger who was assaulted was charged with public intoxication and the driver with DUI). An officer yelled out that unless he kept walking he’d be the fourth person arrested that night because “it’s 2 a.m. on new Year’s Eve”. Later, but for a miracle, the Samaritan responded to a Craig’s List post that Antonio had set up for anyone to come forward who might serve as a witness to the incident that night. There is so much distrust and paranoia regarding the police in Austin that the Samaritan wouldn’t reveal himself or the tape until he was sure that he was speaking with Antonio.
The results of the breathalyzer showed that Antonio had not been drinking. This must have been a shock to the officers as they were certainly expecting some kind of reading, especially since it was early New Year’s Day. They couldn’t charge him with DUI so they arrested him for “harassment of a public servant”– a third degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The arresting officer claimed that Antonio spit on him. He was also charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.
If you dare to get involved, you run the risk of being branded for the rest of your life. This charge will be forever etched into cyberspace, even if all charges are dropped. Unfortunately, in our country it seems one is guilty until proven innocent. Since Antonio’s livelihood is working with young people this is no small matter. In our crazy, fast-paced world, who is going to take the time to really dig deep and see the injustice of this incident? Likewise, the female passenger who was assaulted that night now has two mug shots posted on line because of two out of control cops. The first was for public intoxication, and then 11 days later they charged her again with disobeying a public official and resisting arrest.
Asked if he would do this again Antonio said, that night while sitting in the cold cell; freezing, hungry and alone, he wondered what he had gotten himself into. A felony conviction equals loss of reputation, loss of right to vote, loss of his right to possess a hand gun, besides the financial loss. As he was being released that next night he encountered the young woman for which he had interceded. She gave him a big hug and told him how much she appreciated him. He knew then he had made the right decision.
Antonio says, “If every single person in this country would stand up to abuse and call out criminals when they engage in criminal activity, and not just the cops but government officials, politicians or generals even; if people would do that we would live in a much better society.”
Antonio considers himself fortunate for a lot of reasons; the area of town, the well-lit environment, the Good Samaritan filming. There is a sad history in Austin that most minorities know too well; Byron Carter, Jr., Nathaniel Sanders II, Kevin Brown, Jesse Lee Owens, to name a few. Many terrible things have happened to people on the “bad” side of town and some have not lived to tell the tale. There are several stories of people who would probably win a criminal and/or civil suit but in Austin if you are a minority you know all too well to keep quiet. In Austin it appears there are clear examples of police brutality, even murder, and an administration that seems more interested in protecting their image than protecting the rights of the citizens.
There is a story of a Mexican man who was arrested on 6th street, not that long ago. He had no physical injuries before he was apprehended by police. For several hours he was missing while in custody. When his sister was called to come and get him he was a physical wreck; bloody, swollen and disfigured, with his jaw wired shut. The family does not want to come forward to press charges for fear of retaliation. What becomes of a community where significant abuses by the very people who are sworn to protect and serve go unchecked?
Antonio is currently waiting for the grand jury to convene. He has his own outstanding reputation, three unbiased witnesses, his friend, and the two females who were also arrested that night, along with the most powerful of all, the film. Antonio feels confident of the verdict if he is faced with a trial by a jury of his peers. It would be preferable, however, if the charges were to be dropped altogether.
Officer Oborski, the arresting officer, has apparently been recognized several years in a row as the #1 cash generating cop for writing DUI tickets. It appears he wanted to start out January 1, 2012 with zeal. He didn’t plan on tangling with a decorated war veteran. He has been caught changing his story several times. One of the complaints against Antonio is that he spat on the officer but the tape clearly demonstrates that didn’t happen. When the charge was assessed at the time officer Oborski didn’t realize there was a video camera recording the incident. Interesting enough, the Austin police have yet to release the cruiser’s dash cam video to Antonio’s attorney.
Why should we continue to get involved you may ask if we are to be faced with this sort of brutality? Because as Pastor Niemoller said after the Nazi rise to power:
"First They Came for the Jews"
First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Once you are aware and knowledgeable it is impossible to go back to sleep. So, it is imperative that we all as citizens document, film and otherwise capture the truth. Facts and truth win cases. They also make it difficult for the malevolent to succeed. As our individual freedoms are quickly disappearing we must stand up to the censorship. We should never disallow a citizen to document and film what is being done to us in the name of justice.
If a police officer is there to protect and serve and his agenda is pure then he shouldn’t have any problem with anyone filming the process. This article is not an article that wishes to convey a sense of cop-bashing. There are many, many honor bound police officers who dutifully and justly perform their duties to protect and serve. We all owe a debt of gratitude to these courageous civil servants. But what happens when one of their own or a particular group decides to go rogue? There are special times that call for secrecy, such as national security, but when events land in the arena of public events, corporate misdeeds, government agendas, then there should be transparency. Corruption fears illumination.
Good Samaritan’s video of Antonio Buehler
To donate to or get involved in Antonio’s effort to combat police abuse through the Peaceful Streets Project:
To keep apprised of Antonio Buehler’s case and to lend support you can join him on Facebook at “Free Antonio Buehler”-(like his page and share your story regarding police abuse):
If you want to get involved call the following people and DEMAND justice for Antonio Buehler and to investigate Officers Oborski and Snider:
Mayor Leffingwell: 512-974-2250
Police Chief Acevedo: 512-974-5000
City Council Members:
Chris Riley: 512-974-2260
Mike Martinez: 512-974-2264
Kathie Tovo: 512-974-2255
Laura Morrison: 512-974-2258
Bill Spelman: 512-974-2256
City of Austin Officials:
Office of the Police Monitor:
Until last year Toni Samanie was a standard-issue grandmother and mother. She lived life like most ordinary citizens. She worked in a successful sales environment and brought enthusiasm and a win/win attitude to the customers she helped. Then tragedy struck her most regular of families and she lost her 38 year-old son-in-law due to poly-pharmacy. She also has an orphan disease which has enabled her to see the fallacy behind the idea that doctors and pharmaceutical companies are straining day and night to "cure" people like her. Once married to a physician she has had a special view of the medical fraternity from within.
Always an avid reader especially with regard to American History. Having been reared near Manassas' Bull-Run and Fredericksburg, VA she has a fondness for Civil War History and West Point War Strategy. Coincidentally, she is the daughter and step-daughter of two Marines who fought in the Korean War. She grew up in the small civilian town of Quantico, Virginia surrounded by the Marine military base and Navy hospital. She has always viewed the soldiers in her family, as well as other soldiers, with high regard. As a teenager in the late 60's-early 70s she grew up in a time of civil unrest. "Question authority was de rigueur by most all American youth. Occupy Wall Street is very reminiscent of those formative, yet troubled years.
So, now that the rose-colored glasses have been crushed she is coming to write about the criminal activity of the pharmaceutical industry and to help others be enlightened before it is too late for them. She does not have any formal education in writing but comes with the strength and passion of a soldier.
Her web blog is: www.prescriptiondrugsarekillingus.blogspot.com
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