The Kelleys Island Police Department has taken a lot of heat for its arrest of Shaun Bickley, a local businessman who attempted to film a video of a police incident.
I was planning to pile on with this blog posting, invoking Thomas Jefferson, the First Amendment, the sacrifices of the brave Founding Fathers, blah blah blah.
However, I have just read eight pages of police reports. The documents suggest there is more to the story. If the reports can be taken at face value — they were turned in by four different officers — what happened to the Bickleys was a rather ordinary disorderly conduct arrest.
Arrests for disorderly conduct follow a format as rigid as a Shakespearian sonnet. I have read literally thousands of police reports in Ohio and Oklahoma. It's a four step process:
1. Police are called to a scene to defuse a situation with drunken, loud people.
2. The police officer asks a person who is shouting loudly and getting in the way to be quiet and get out of the way.
3. The person in question shouts a variation of the F-word at the police officer, gets in his face, and usually adds whatever insult comes to mind: The officer is a racist, the officer is a Nazi, the officer owns a complete collection of Barry Manilow records -- you get the idea.
4. The police officer decides he has had enough. The person is arrested, handcuffed, placed in the back of the police car. Often he spends the night in a cell.
Here is an extract from a police offense report filed by Officer Capperes of the Kelleys Island Police Department. The parts I quote are slightly redacted, as you'll see:
"On above date and time [Sept. 2] I noticed Officer Wade talking with a female who was walking around with an open container. I then noticed a white male later identified as Shaun Bickley trying to film Officer Wade and telling people that all we do [is] harass people and were a bunch of drunks that cover things up. I then informed Mr. Bickley to step away from the officer and not get involved. He then stated I will do what I want. I informed him again he was too close to the officers investigating the open container and advised him again to please step away from incident. He stepped a few feet back and continued to instigate telling people we are just a bunch of rent a cops that harass people.
"A white female later identified as Janice Bickley then started to yell you are just a bunch of [adjective deleted] rent a cops in front of people walking on the streets. She was told to calm down and she said '[verb deleted] you, you [adjective deleted] rent a cops' and repeated this statement a few times. Officers then approached her and asked for her identification and she became irate screaming and yelling and attempted to walk away. Mrs. Bickley was stopped and escorted to the police cruiser (please see Officer Ciachhi Report 11-189).
"While Mrs. Bickley was being escorted to police cruiser Mr. Bickley started to yell '[adjective deleted] rent a cops, leave my wife alone' and came toward the officers in an aggressive way clinching his fists. Officer Woods then asked Mr. Bickley to put his hands behind his back and he took an aggressive stance clinching his fists while backing away from the officer stating 'you're not going to [modifying word deleted] arrest me'."
Etc. (They arrested him.)
Now, for all I know, the Bickleys may have had a good reason to be angry. I don't know what the original incident was that set them off. I've had good experiences with the Bickleys. They are nice people and they've always been helpful to me.
I have no opinion on whether the police deleted Shawn Bickley's video, as he alleges and as the police deny.
Before I looked at the reports, I had understood that Mr. Bickley began filming the cops, they asked him not to, and then arrested him when he refused. It appears there may be more to it than that.