Patrick Roth is part of a group of people who call themselves “First Amendment auditors” who say that their mission is to hold police accountable by taking video of them in action.
Roth, with video camera in hand, has spent about a year approaching hundreds of police officers across Texas with the hopes of “exposing them” for violating the law.
On Saturday, the 20-year-old Roth walked up to the Southlake Department of Public Safety station and tried to go inside.
An officer Roth identified as Craig D’Amico pushed him as he tried to enter, a video on Roth’s YouTube website, NewsNowPatrick, showed. The video has been viewed nearly 40,000 times.
Roth, of Dallas, filed a complaint against D’Amico.
“A lot of these guys don’t know what they are doing and don’t know the law,” Roth said. “I’m exposing them.”
Roth’s complaint was ruled to be unsubstantiated, according to police.
“We have reviewed the video footage of the incident and determined that there was no violation of law or policy,” said James Brandon, Southlake DPS chief, in an email. “The individuals involved in this incident intentionally created a difficult situation for the purposes of filming a police reaction. The officers involved behaved appropriately and professionally.”
Roth said a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision handed down in February 2017 that arose from a Fort Worth case, Turner v. Driver, supported his actions. The court ruled that filming the police in public is legal and protected by the Constitution.
“Filming the police contributes to the public’s ability to hold the police accountable, ensure that police officers are not abusing their power, and make informed decisions about police policy,” Justice Jacques Wiener wrote. “Protecting the right to film the police promotes First Amendment principles.”
“Cop watch” groups have also targeted Arlington police in recent years.
Roth said he had filmed as many as 300 police stations in the past year and often gets mixed responses from officers. Roth, who records show does not have a criminal record in Tarrant or Dallas counties, said he is filming officers to protect the rights of the people.
“Some officers know it’s legal but they still want to check you out,” Roth said. “Typically, they are initially suspicious but most times once they start talking to me to let me do what I have come there to do.”