Does Duane Chapman aka Dog The Bounty Hunter Agree It Should Be Illegal To Film Police

On the evening of April 12, I was assaulted by a member of reality star Duane Chapman aka Dog the Bounty Hunter’s security team. Soon after, I was assaulted again, and had my First Amendment rights violated, by a member of the Maui Police Department.

It began around 9pm, when I exited my Wailuku office. As I was crossing the parking lot, I noticed a number of large SUVs directly adjacent to my vehicle, and heard a woman asking for an autograph. Naturally curious, I pulled out my camera and started shooting video. Immediately, Chapman’s security guards began pushing me away. I informed them I was a member of the press and I had the right to film on public property.

This did nothing to dissuade them, and after a security guard who I later identified as Sonny Westbrook shoved me particularly hard I announced I was calling 911. The security guard then snatched my phone out of my hands and jabbed me in the mouth with his open palm, making direct contact with my upper front teeth and knocking my head back. At this point I began yelling for help.

After repeated demands, the security guard finally threw my phone down on the hood of a car; I grabbed it and called 911. While I was making the call, another member of Dog’s entourage who I recognized as his wife, Beth Chapman, began yelling at me, making it difficult for the operator to hear me. While I was still on the phone with 911, MPD officers arrived at the scene.

I explained what happened, and while one of the officers took my statement I continued recording with my phone. The Dog crew moved behind a van and I moved slightly to get a better vantage point. It was then that Officer Johnson of MPD told me I was “antagonizing” Dog’s gang. I panned the camera over to Officer Johnson and he charged me and hit me in the face opened-handed as he violently yanked the phone from me. I demanded he return it and he did, at which point I began filming again.

He then charged me a second time, and as I turned away from him and shoved my phone in my pants he grabbed me and twisted my left arm behind my back, wrenching it painfully. I pleaded with him to stop, telling him he was hurting me. That only made him wrench harder.

This went on for at least three minutes. I was screaming for help. The more I screamed in pain, the more Officer Johnson wrenched my arm. The video clearly shows I remained calm; I was doing nothing more than filming the incident, and for that I was assaulted by a public servant on public property. I repeatedly explained to him that I was a member of the press and cited my First Amendment right. Officer Johnson erroneously claimed my press rights didn’t include filming him against his wishes.

After the assault, Johnson fabricated a story that I charged him with the camera, but the video evidence (which can be viewed on our news blog, mauifeed.com) clearly refutes that.

Soon a higher-ranking officer arrived on scene. As I was explaining the incident to him, I watched in the background as Officer Johnson got his chance to go meet the TV star Chapman, and they shook hands and laughed together.

I challenge Dog and his crew to release their video footage of the events.

Bottom line: because I attempted the completely legal act of recording on public property I was shoved, hit, had my property taken and was prevented from accessing emergency services. Once “help” arrived, I was further assaulted and had my Constitutional rights violated.

This type of injustice cannot, and should not stand. The police are supposed to serve and protect. When they fail in that duty, they must be held accountable.

Comments

comments

  • http://twitter.com/KanojoNoCarrera Reina Todoroki

    So I noticed not even a peep from you guys about the Dog the Bounty Hunter Episode filmed on Maui that aired recently. Whats up? Hell, even this weeks episode seems to do a “time skip” across the events on Maui.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5GVCX6DGNMRKKPAECJHUFV74QQ AF Colonel

    So you ran into that white trash piece of crap. Amazing that in Hawaii of all places, nobody has taken him out yet!

  • Mauiwisper

    What can we do to help you Tommy ?? 

  • Gtcable

    I have a whole new view of HPD after my experience with them yesterday. There are more than a few roid raging hate mongers abusing the power of the badge to get their beat down. I’m not going to say why or who they choose to hate. I can’t read their minds. But it’s clear that this is accepted behavior within the force.

    I now know what it must have been like for a black man to be pulled over in Alabama, 40 years ago. For the first time in my life I’m going to be fearful of the Police going forward.

    I wish someone would have recorded video of the cops that day.

  • Jeanne d’Arc

    We all deserve respect even if Russo was not at the right place at the time, since his business is to “not be at the right place” or “at the right place and the right time” then the Police should have been more courteous towards him by telling him to stay in the limits allowed. The tone of a voice can also trigger frustration. Communication seems to have been the issue once again. We all need to learn to communicate to each other in order to avoid friction. As for the Dog…. If he needs to conduct his reality show, he needs to make sure that they stay within the rules and not violate people’s rights as well….. Being a Bounty Hunter does not give him the right to “infringe” on people’s property

  • Anonymous

    So lemme get this straight according to this weeks rag…..

    Your “incident” has been reported “far and wide,” yet all i’ve seen after a few cursory searches is some no-name blogs and…..apparently, a simple search for “Dog Chapman maui” goes to something about Leeland’s divorce from a girl named Maui.

    For something so shocking, i’d expect at least TMZ or ET or The Insider to pick up such a story. Y’know, NATIONAL outlets?

  • KJ6969

    If you don’t sue, you -are- a pussy.

  • Pamela_abel

    The so called Maui police force has sadly become a laughing stock. They decide which law to make or break without punitive actions taken against them. They even will lie. What a joke you have become and a very sad one at that.
    I hope you get sued

  • Weatherho

    Tommy Russo, you sound like a huge whining puss to me. I think your self righteous behavior got you exactly what you deserved.

  • EggzOverEazy

    aren’t you going to press charges? you need to if you want to stand up against this type of thing.

  • Anonymous

    In the state of Hawaii recording of citizens and police is permitted in public with or without their permision. It is refered as a One Party state in the privacy statute. If the officer had known of this right he could have asked Mr. Russo to remain at a distance so as not to interfere with the Shit Heel crew filming their segment. Mr Russo has every right to record the officer durring the open and free exchange.

    As to Mr Russo being papparazzi like in his behavior or tactics, that is also his right distasteful though it may be. As it is Mr Chapman and his families’ right to be Shit Heels. =)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QX5S6OFLXGI67ZYSHWBLWOR2SU Matt

    I’m trying to figure out just how braindead some of you putzes are. Did you even see some of the pictures poor Tommy posted that proved he was just another annoying paparazzi? One pictur is of him sneaking a cellphone around a corner filming Chapman. Another is of him sticking his cell phone in the window of an SUV. If this clown Tommy ran up to you while you were parked and waiting on a friend what would you do? Clown got what he deserved.

    • Rationalranger

      Where are these pics you refer to? Are you saying someone filmed Tommy using his camera? Without photos of this, how can you know that he sneaked a cellphone around a corner, whatever that means? In any case, this is not an illegal act. And how do you know Tommy stuck his phone in the window of an SUV? And what does this mean? Did he actually put the camera into the SUV? Or did he film through the window?

      No one has a right to privacy in a public area. And certainly no one has a right to assault someone simply because his behavior is annoying but legal. Matt is so star-struck he believes that celebrities are above the law.

  • Rationalranger

    what happened to the video?

  • BATRES_RICHARD

    DUDE ALLTHOUGH THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR VIOLENCE.. YOU THINK YOU HAVE SOME RIGHT TO JUST WALK UP TO PPL AND FILM THEM?? HOWABOUT LEAVING PPL THE FUCK ALONE??

    • Dale

      Yes in public…..DOG !!

    • Anonymous

      In public you are fare game. Anyone. Fake local talkin’ bounty hunters(nice paintball guns
      -pfft-) included. Go back to the Springs trailer folk.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CZIHDU633NBTIJ5SUJVVV3D6CU howie h

      your an asswipe! and never will be anything else!       SO STFU!!!

  • Beth’s Boobs
  • Syloio

    Let’s give Maui’s Finest a big hand for displaying such care and concern for the public. I hope that if I ever need police assistance in the future, that they send someone who actually serve and protect the public. Maui County does not need cops like Nelson Johnson (as I’m sure that there are many of them).