Appeals court rejects lawsuit by activist who filmed Austin police

A lawsuit from Antonio Buehler, who claimed his three arrests while filming Austin police in 2012 violated his civil rights, was properly dismissed by a trial court judge, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Buehler, who helped found the Peaceful Streets Project to encourage bystanders to film officers if they believe they are witnessing abuse by police, argued that police lacked cause to arrest him and that the arrests were an attempt to silence him in violation of his free-speech and equal-protection rights.

READ: How Antonio Buehler sparked a national debate over the right to film the police.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, ruled that Buehler’s lawsuit against the city of Austin and the Police Department should be dismissed because he failed to show that the Travis County grand jury’s decision to indict him on three counts of failing to obey a lawful order was based on misleading information from Austin police officers.

The appeals court said it wasn’t persuaded by evidence that Buehler submitted showing alleged inconsistencies between reports and affidavits from police officers and videotapes of the arrests supplemented by accounts from other witnesses.

“Much of Buehler’s evidence simply shows that his actions and those of the arresting officers were subject to different interpretations,” Judge Stephen Higginson wrote for the court’s three-judge panel.

“Such evidence is especially unpersuasive here because the grand jury heard testimony from Buehler and several witnesses who testified in Buehler’s favor at his criminal trial … but still returned indictments,” Higginson wrote.

The ruling upheld a lower-court decision in February 2015 to dismiss the lawsuit.

Buehler has gone to trial for only one of the misdemeanor charges, the appeals court said, adding that a jury found him not guilty in October 2014.

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