GARY — Police officers claim in court documents a “black and metallic looking object' in the hand of Edward M. Strauss is what first drew their attention to the 36-year-old man during an investigation Sept. 1 in Gary.
The object was a phone, which Strauss was using to record the police officers while they were investigating a complaint in his neighborhood. After Strauss ignored orders by officers to stop recording, he ended up filming his own arrest on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement
After a video of Strauss' arrest circulated on YouTube, the Gary Police Department announced an internal investigation was underway into its officers' actions.
“We appreciate the concern shown by the public and are diligently working towards an internal resolution,” the department wrote in a Sept. 14 Facebook post. “We do not condone the violation of any rights given to citizens in our GREAT nation.”
Though the issue of recording law enforcement officers is a hotly debated issue, the courts have affirmed in several cases an individual's constitutional right to film on-duty officers.
In May 2012, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, struck down an Illinois law prohibiting people from making recordings of police officers after determining the law “likely violates” the First Amendment.
Strauss, of Chesterton, was arrested by Gary Cpl. James Nielsen and two police officers, one of them a probationary officer, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The officers were dispatched about 8:30 p.m. Sept. 1 to 4200 E. 11th Place in reference to a disturbance. The officers were speaking with the complainant and another party involved when officers observed Strauss walking in the grass and around a truck.
“The area was dark and the officers observed a black and metallic looking object in Mr. Strauss's hand, that may have been a weapon, along with an object with a flashing light in his other hand,” the affidavit states.
Officers said they were "distracted" from their initial call, so they left the complainant "to see exactly what Mr. Strauss was suspiciously doing," the affidavit states.
They asked Strauss what he was doing, and he responded, “I'm Youtubing Live,” the affidavit states.
The officers noted Strauss walked away from them, and did not provide his name or identification. They said Strauss continued to record them, and yelled, “I know my rights, I'm not committing a crime,” the affidavit states.
The officers said they ordered Strauss to stop shouting and being disorderly, and when he continued, they placed him under arrest.
“After the officers had to use the minimum force needed to restrain Mr. Strauss they finally were able to place him into handcuffs,” the affidavit states.
Strauss was booked into the Gary City Jail for being “so irate, disorderly and aggressive toward officers,” the affidavit states.
Officers claim Strauss committed disorderly conduct by “shouting and yelling continuously.” He resisted law enforcement by “pulling away and interfering with police during an incident,” a criminal complaint states.
Strauss is scheduled for a bench trial Nov. 19, court records state.