Ryan Seaman, 18, and his friends were on a field in Radcliff tagging themselves with airsoft rifles similar to a game of paintball when a neighbor decided to report them to authorities despite the fact that there were no audible gun shots.
“I didn’t hear no weapons fire or anything like that,” the neighbor said to the 911 operator. “They may have been paintball rifles, I don’t know but it seemed odd.”
Yet this somehow prompted police to show up to the field heavily armed to confront the teenagers.
“The officers came out of the trees with their assault rifles,” one of the teens, Jeremy Anderson, said to Wave 3.
One officer noticed that Anderson was recording the confrontation with his GoPro camera and told him to shut it off.
“You don’t have to,” Seaman told Anderson.
Seaman was soon arrested.
After reviewing the incident, Jon Fleischaker, an expert attorney on First Amendment issues, said that the arrest appears to be “possible retaliation by police” for recording the encounter.
“Retaliation is a strong word, but that’s what it is,” he said. “I know of no, nothing in the law that says I can’t record a conversation or an encounter with a police officer, period.”
Seaman, who does not have a criminal record, indicated that he will fight the charges.
This incident is notable because it combines two authoritarian trends now occurring in America: the increasing militarization of small town cops and the increasing attacks on the First Amendment.
The neighbor who reported the teenagers to police indicated that they may have just been playing paintball but that didn’t stop the cops from gearing up like a domestic army. Then they attempted to deny the teenagers their right to film the encounter.