A Travis County grand jury has indicted Antonio Buehler on misdemeanor charges following a New Year's Day arrest in 2012 but declined to pursue felony charges against him.
Buehler was arrested around 1:30 a.m. on January 1, 2012 following an argument with Austin Police Officer Patrick Oborski.
Oborski was patrolling downtown that night when he noticed a car being driven without its lights on. He stopped the car at a convenience store at 10th Street and Lamar Boulevard. According to police, the passenger in the car, Norma Pizana, began shouting at the officer and the driver.
The incident with Buehler began when Oborski and another APD officer began arresting Pizana. Buehler had been pumping gas at the convenience store and began talking to the officers about what he believed was the aggressive way they were handling Pizana.
Buehler then got into a heated verbal exchange with Oborski. During this exchange, Oborski said he believed Buehler spit in his face and began trying to arrest Buehler. Buehler and his passenger denied that he had spit in Oborski's face. Buehler later accused Oborski of lying in his arrest affidavit.
A man who was walking on Lamar Boulevard across the street stopped to watch the confrontation. He also videotaped the incident. That video was later shown to the grand jury along with audio and video from the car cameras of both officers.
Additionally, the grand jury heard from 13 witnesses including Buehler and Oborski.
On Tuesday the Travis County District Attorney's Office announced the grand jury returned an indictment against Buehler for failure to obey a lawful order. That charge is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine.
Buehler had been facing a felony charge of harassment of a public official. Oborski had been facing a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record. The grand jury also considered if Oborski committed official oppression. The grand jury failed to return indictments against either man for these charges.
Buehler was also indicted for three more charges of failure to obey a lawful order for incidents that took place on August 24, August 26, and September 21, 2012.
Another person, Sarah Dickerson, was also indicted for failure to obey a lawful order in the September 21 incident.
Municipal Court prosecutors will handle the failure to obey charges against Buehler.
In the months following the New Year's Day incident in 2012, Buehler formed with the help of other activists in the Austin area the Peaceful Streets Project. The group describes its purpose as to "fight back against police abuse, corruption and misconduct." The group has held Know Your Rights Training events, handed out cameras to residents of Austin and documented police actions in the city.
On Wednesday morning the group released a statement regarding the actions of the grand jury.
CLICK HERE to read the full statement from the Peaceful Streets Project
In the statement, the group provides a detailed account of the exchange between Buehler and Oborski. The statement also alleges Oborski confronted Buehler after his arrest using profane language and threatened him.
With regards to that incident the statement says, "despite about a half dozen witnesses that stepped forward willing to swear under oath that Pizana did not assault Snider and that Buehler did not spit in Oborski's face, the cell phone video, the 7-11 surveillance video, audio from both Oborski and Snider, and self-incriminating lies written up in the affidavits of Oborski and Snider, the Austin Police Department and the District Attorney continued to press forward with the charges against Buehler and Pizana. In addition, 11 days after the initial arrests, and after Pizana shared her story of abuse with the media, the Austin Police Department filed two new charges against Pizana for resisting arrest and failure to obey a lawful order."
The Peaceful Streets Project also commented on the charges against Buehler and Dickerson for the incidents on August 24th, August 26th, and September 21st.
"There was no evidence that either Buehler or Dickerson ever obstructed or interfered with an officer engaged in his official duties," the Peaceful Streets Project statement reads. "Further, Austin Police Department policy (p. 106) clearly states that officers are not to ‘[i]n any way threaten, intimidate or otherwise discourage an individual from recording officer's enforcement activities', which is exactly what APD did to Buehler and Dickerson in each one of the instances in which they were charged with ‘failure to obey a lawful order'."
The statement also contends that neither Buehler nor Dickerson were able to provide any testimony for the incidents that took place after New Year's Day.