A YouTube video showing the arrest of a man filming the FBI building in Pocatello has caused quite a stir in recent days, but questions still remain.
One of the biggest issues being debated is whether he had to show his I.D. to the officer. It turns out there is a clear legal answer.
“We got a report that you are recording the FBI building, so, I need to see your identification…"
"for what crime?”
This is how the tense exchange between Sean Johnson and a Pocatello Police officer began. It later escalated into Johnson being arrested for resisting and obstructing an officer. But Bron Rammell, an attorney, says that the officer had no right to ask for Johnson’s I.D. in the first place.
Bron Rammell/Pocatello Attorney, “Unless the officer had reasonable suspicion that he could articulate that Mr. Johnson was engaged in some sort of criminal activity, he did not have a right to ask for his I.D.”
The key is this: reasonable articulable suspicion. In other words, in a court of law, officers must be able to say out loud the crime suspected of a person before they can make any commands. As charging someone with resisting and obstructing.
Bron Rammell/Pocatello Attorney, “To resist an officer, there first of all has to be a lawful command, something that gives the officer a right to ask for the I.D. to begin with, which starts with reasonable articulable suspicion. After that, it may be in the best interest of a citizen to give that I.D., but really, legally, they are not obligated to do so.”
In a press conference Monday, the Pocatello Police Chief explained the department’s side.
Scott Marchand/PPD Chief, “Our officers owe it to the community to check on these situations. So we are going to respond to them, we’re going to find out what’s going on.”
In the end, Rammell agrees that while what Johnson did was lawful, community members should not necessarily mirror his behavior:
Bron Rammell/Pocatello Attorney, “I think that people should try to cooperate with police that are trying to do their job in an honest and straightforward way.”
Johnson is due in court on August 10.