DeSoto police defend officer who pulled gun on YouTube heckler
- Written by Naheed Rajwani Naheed Rajwani
- Published: 07 February 2018 07 February 2018
DeSoto, TX - A DeSoto police officer is under investigation for pulling his gun on a man whose pastimes include recording police officers at work and posting his "first amendment audits" online.
Charles Dominguez has been arrested at least twice in DeSoto in recent months. On Saturday, he posted a YouTube video showing a DeSoto police officer pointing a gun at him as he followed the officer's SUV on a bicycle.
Police acknowledged in a news release on Tuesday that the encounter was "very serious" and concerning, but cautioned that there is more to the story.
The officer appears to tell Dominguez that if he keeps following him, he'll consider it a threat.
"I'm just riding my bike," Dominguez tells the officer, his video still rolling.
Dominguez has accused the officer of violating his civil rights and his First Amendment right to record. Earlier in the week, he was arrested on a charge of interfering with police.
"I do what I want to on my videos, but I can see I can get in big trouble," Dominguez told WFAA-TV in a recent interview. He's filed a formal complaint against the officer, who is now being investigated by the DeSoto Police Department for his behavior.
Police acknowledged in a news release on Tuesday that the encounter was "very serious" and concerning, but cautioned that there is more to the story. They included links to other videos of their dealings with Dominguez, who they said has had a tendency to make unwelcome comments toward officers while they are interacting with the public.
One video, which Dominguez posted on YouTube, shows him flipping off an officer and telling him, "[Expletive] you." In another video, he tells an officer to throw away some trash he's picked up.
And in a third video, he asks a black officer, "You speak African?" multiple times.
In early January, police said, Dominguez approached an officer conducting a traffic stop and "launched into a profanity laced tirade" against the officer.
Dominguez had been told not to approach the officer in his blind spot, but he did so anyway, police alleged. They said the officer ignored him and warned him about his behavior.
About two weeks later, Dominguez approached a woman trying to file a report with a DeSoto police officer. Police said the woman didn't want to be recorded, but Dominguez continued to film while making "rude, degrading and hateful" comments.
Dominguez, who's pleaded guilty to theft before, was arrested on Jan. 25 on an outstanding warrant from another city.
Four days later, police said, he returned to the DeSoto Police Department and went into an interview room where an officer was meeting a woman filing a complaint. The officer told Dominguez to stop filming and leave, but he refused and was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of interference with public duties, police said.
That officer was the same man who drew his weapon on Dominguez on Saturday. Police have not identified the officer.
DeSoto Police Chief Joe Costa said in a written statement that he respects the First Amendment and the desire that some people have to film officers to make sure they are being professional.
"However, I do have an issue when that behavior interferes with our duties, causes safety concerns and infringes on other citizens rights during a police contact," the chief said. "I also have issue with the fact that our officers have been harassed and belittled by the actions of Mr. Dominguez and that's not right!"
Dominguez's attorney, Corwyn Davis, told WFAA-TV that it doesn't matter if Dominguez was being a nuisance.
"You can try to paint the picture that this is a guy that's being annoying and cussing at cops [on YouTube] and all that stuff, but ultimately it does not matter," Davis told WFAA. "If you or I did that [pointed a gun] we'd get arrested."
Source: Dallas Morning News