APD officers accused of abuse during New Year's arrest



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Posted on January 4, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 5 at 11:39 AM

AUSTIN -- The Austin Police Department faces allegations of abuse stemming from a New Year's Day arrest. 

Like most cases of alleged police abuse, the accuser has his story and police have another. However there is video which may help determine which side is telling the truth.

Cell phone video shot across the street from a gas and convenience store on Lamar Boulevard and 10th Street shows police taking down Antonio Buehler, 34, early Sunday morning.

Buehler was returning home from a New Year's Eve party. While stopped for gas, he noticed police performing a DWI stop on a woman.

"We hear a loud scream, and we look over, and we see the cop violently yanking the female out of the car onto the ground," said Buehler. "She is screaming. The other cop ran up, and they both sort of grabbed her arms. Her hands were behind her back straight out, and they lifted her up by her arms. It just looked extremely painful."

Buehler and his friend began taking pictures. He said one of the officers then marched toward him and asked, "'What the hell are you taking pictures for,' or something along those lines," said Buehler. "My response was, 'I am allowed to. Public official in a public place.'"

Buehler says the officer accused him of  interfering with the investigation. 

"I said, 'I never got in the way of the investigation,'" said Buehler. "At some point, he pushed me into the truck by the chest. Once he had me pinned up against the back of the truck, he kept leaning in. He kept pushing me."

The officer accused Buehler of spitting in his face. Buehler denies it. Buehler put an ad out on Craigslist for anyone who may have witnessed the incident. Someone responded and provided video which appears to support Buehler's version of events. 

Austin police disagree.  

"Buehler was in the officer's face," said APD spokesman Corp. Anthony Hipolito. "The officer kind of put his hand on his shoulder and tried to back him up, and at that time was when Buehler spit in the face of Officer Oborski. At that time he was placed under arrest for harassment of a public servant, which is a third degree felony."

Actually before that charge, Buehler was taken to the BAT bus and asked to take a breathalyzer.

"I was really interested to see what mine was going to be since I had not been drinking," said Buehler.

"He was probably taken down to the BAT bus so that Oborski could complete his paperwork on the other DWI arrest," said Hipolito. 

So then why was Buehler asked to blow into a breathalyzer?  "I don't know," said Hipolito.

Buehler is a West Point graduate, an Army Ranger and an Iraq War veteran. He says he knows what it means to serve and has great respect for police, but he says these two officers crossed the line.

"I want to see both cops reprimanded, disciplined, maybe even fired," said Buehler. "I saw a woman getting assaulted by the police. It looked like police abuse, and I decided to speak up and take pictures. I think that is every person's right."

Buehler says he may consider legal action but at the moment is concentrating on getting the charges dismissed. APD says he must first file a complaint with its Internal Affairs Department.

Buehler says there was a female who witnessed the altercation and offered to give Buehler's friend her card. Buehler says police prevented her from doing so. Buehler says he would like for that woman to come forward as well.