Weatherford Democrat

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April 18, 2013

Estes says veteran’s video supports his ‘Freedom to Film’ legislation

AUSTIN – Army Master Sergeant. C.J. Grisham, a decorated war veteran, was recently arrested in Temple while on a hike with his 15-year old son trying to help him earn a Boy Scout merit badge.

On Tuesday, Grisham released a video of the incident, showing police mistreating Grisham and accusing him of “rudely displaying” a weapon. Grisham was initially charged with resisting arrest.

The video was taken by Grisham’s son and shows Grisham did not resist arrest. Police later reduced the charges to “interfering with a peace officer while performing a duty,” a Class B misdemeanor.

“Stories like these are why I have filed SB 897, which makes it clear that Texans have a right to film police in the performance of their duties,” said State Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls. “Fortunately in this case, Sgt. Grisham was able to document the incident and the proof is on his side.”

Estes, whose district includes Parker County, said SB 897 seeks to clarify that a citizen is not acting unlawfully by filming police officers during the course of their normal duties. Under the bill, if a citizen is charged with a crime for filming the police, such as interference with public duties, failure to obey the police or assaulting an officer, and is subsequently acquitted, the citizen may recover the costs of defending the frivolous charges.

“My hope is that this bill will cause Texas law enforcement to think twice before arresting and charging a person who is doing nothing more than filming the police. The police are public servants, so they should not be doing anything that they would not want caught on film,” he said.

Grisham’s video can be viewed online at www.nationalreview.com/corner/345714/free-cj-grisham.

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